Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Seeing Double and the future of vintage.

Seeing triple actually.
vintage KNIT cape AMAZING hearts and UNIQUE pattern
If you, like myself, ever coveted this crazy 70s cape from the amazing Anja Verdugo's etsy shop, you're in luck. As I'm writing this, there are three available on etsy.

folk heart cape. peachypipes.
peachypipes on etsy.

Amazing vintage BOHO cape hearts one size plus size
27ogle on etsy.

Mariesvintage on etsy.

(In addition to these guys, I also found one here, for a low, low price.)

The cape has popped up in a 70s search on etsy, at various times and this inspired me to look further into how many of these were floating around.

In spite the fact that all ebay sellers urge us to "Bid now! This item is one of a kind vintage!" there are in fact, starting from about the late 60s, a few vintage duplicates, items that somehow appear to be more prominent than others.

From that time onward ateliers and boutiques gave away (sadly, America, sadly) to big box stores and mass-manufacturing. (Amber of Violet Folklore did an excellent post on big box vintage a while back, trough which we discovered that we'd both thrifted the same 70s REI jacket.) Though department store and mass labels had first come to existence in the beginning of the last century, they often came in the form of patterns, or outfits that were fitted and tailored for, or by, the buyer. The population explosion of baby-boomers coming-of-teen-age in the 60s however, as well as the emergence of youth culture, created the market for mass-manufactured uniqueness as we know it today.

What is interesting about duplicate vintage is, not only the delight of the oxymoron that Amber's Kmart folk sweater is, but how accurately this 70s creation predicts the shape of things things to come. In the 2000s we have, after all, entered an era that will leave a very mixed vintage legacy.
(Sure these vintage-imitation pieces from a certain over-priced mass retailer are pretty, but will they themselves be vintage in 2047? Methinks not.)

How long do we think those H(heedless consumption) & M (mass manufacture madness) rags, that already fill the Value Villages and Buffalo Exchanges of these United States, are going to be around? As garbage and carbon spent: aeons. As desirable pieces of clothing: no more than a decade.

Will the relics of our era in the vintage stores of the future be the luxury labels of (according to their own hype) higher quality, the ubiquitous plastic wear that is outdoor clothing (I now hail from the Pacific Northwest), or those pieces of mass-fashion that were all the rage, but got seldom worn? That, I think, might be the case with the cape mentioned above still being in a condition that merits re-sale, solely by the virtue of not being worn that much.

I know that most of you prefer vintage shopping anyway, and mean no insult to those who shop big box, but I also think that this is a riveting topic. To me the legacy of our clothing choices is not only environmental, something that very few style-y blogs acknowledge, but also stylistic. Are the nubbly sweater dress, and the leather-imitation flats, the statement we want to leave for future vintage lovers?
(These lovely ladies are Japanese-Americans in a"relocation camp" during WW2. Talk about positive attitude.)
As a life-long thrift shopper (my mother dressed me in vintage 30s, 40s and 50s clothing back when thrift-shopping was still called flea-marketing and almost exclusive to poor people) I have past generations of women to thank for my wardrobe. These women (And I do believe that they were mostly female folks.) took good care of their clothing, as well as that of their children's and husband's. They were always mending and amending garments, making from scratch the pieces they couldn't afford to buy from stores, and storing them in a way that made them last trough decades of changing seasonal follies.
While I hope to do the same, it has certainly become increasingly difficult to leave a lasting clothes-legacy in this topsy-turvy world of ours. The vintage pieces I try to take care of so lovingly, are already 30 to 40-years old, so by the time our kids generation will be trying them on, they'll be closer to 60, or 70, becoming more antique and less wearable vintage.
There's hope though; the current revival of craftiness and DIY, may indeed yield pieces that can be enjoyed for more than one generation. I have always loved the home-made versions of 60s and 70s fashions that often crop up in thrift-stores and hope that our era will leave behind beautiful, durable and even unique clothing. Yet another reason to invest in etsy-pieces.
That was my two bits, now what do you think?

In a related note, I also feel that I owe my wardrobe largely to wonderful women, not only for maintaining the pieces I've bought, but for gifting me with them. Starting with my mama, I have always been blessed to be surrounded by ladies with impeccable taste, as well as seemingly limitless generosity.

This was evidenced when I received my birthday girl item of choice from Violet Folklore. After some liberation I picked this beautiful top, but the package that I received contained not only the top, but my two other choices and two gorgeous hippie-vestlets to boot!

Thank you so much Amber!
Can you tell that the weather has turned, and it's all grey and rainy again. I care not. I love the rain. I'm off to make Finnish pan-bread and nettle pesto. Recipes may be included in a future blog post. I almost never post about food even though I eat and make a lot of it. What do you think?

(All the vintage women are from the Flickr commons)


  1. what a thoughtful and interesting post!
    thank you!

  2. I was thinking about this just yesterday. It makes me want to stop selling and start hoarding. So sad, but vintage clothing as we know it, may go extinct!

  3. It's perfect on you, you darling girl! Perfect perfect!

    And dude Violet Folklore once had that folksy cape but the background was brown. I kept it for myself for a while first ;-)

  4. those are some very pretty clothes you recieved for your birthday! great post, sure got me a thinkin' :) recipe/food posts would be fantastic!

  5. I would love, love, love to see a recipe for nettle anything, I have a huge patch of them by my house and would love to find a use for them. I do like reading about vintage clothes as well :)

  6. what a truly thought provoking post!!!
    what are we leaving behind? i will be pondering this question.

    the sweater is gorgeous! i was just looking at that prairie-ish top not too long ago. lucky you for getting it! what wonderful gifts.
    any food/recipe posts would be much welcomed :D

  7. What a great post! The clothes and the images.

    I totally agree with your sentiments about vintage and particularly the environmental factor, which I agree doesn't get mentioned enough.

    It's about recycling, the styles and also those connections to the past.

    I like to think about what will be vintage in the future too, so that's why when it comes to new stuff I buy from some New Zealand designers who have a similar ethic.

    They are not about creating things that are ridiculously expensive, but about creating things that are beautiful and made with care.

    I've also joined Etsy as a seller recently - not to make heaps of money, but to pass things on to deserving homes.

    And the recipe would be awesome too!

  8. i think of this very issue so much myself. what will i have to pass on to my children apart from very old vintage pieces. so your point about aiming to have as many hand-made pieces is critical i feel. thanks so much for this, you intelligent and lovely lady

  9. a lovely lovely way to start my morning! Thanks Milla :)

    I agree and often ponder this as most of my favorite pieces worth saving are already pretty old. I can't think of a single modern piece I've bought that is unique enough to hold on to and that will stand the test of time? But, I have spied etsy DIY lovelies that fit that bill, maybe one day when I'm big I can afford some. At the same time, I can't see us in our tight low cut jeans ever looking as striking as these ladies?

    Also, what beautiful pieces gifted to you :) I think its great how you have started this wonderful chain of thrift gifting and passing it on!

    Now I must go work on my bonnet/beehive hairdo :)

  10. Haha, I just spent way too long composing a comment that ended up turning into a super long rant on the subject. So, instead of leaving the world’s longest comment, I think I’ll turn it into a post of some sort. You raise some very thought provoking issues my friend : )

    Also, I love the ethnic, cultural, socioeconomic, not-to-mention stylistic diversity in the images you chose, nicely done!

    That Amber, she's a sweetie, so many lovely gifts!

  11. Great post!!! I really like the idea of considering what kind of legacy we will leave behind for the future of fashion, both from an environmental perspective (H&M just smells like toxic, sorry) and an aesthetic perspective. I've only ever considered it on a smaller scale before, like if I ever have daughters I hope I leave some special treasures for them. The best (and biggest) part of my wardrobe are all of the awesome, totally original pieces my mom made for herself in the 70s. Thanks for sharing! xx

  12. Oh Girl.
    You floor me.
    This is a really good one.
    My younger siblings and I handed down one red wool coat in our toddler years, one red wool coat that was already much older than us. Remember when you could go to the thrift stores and the clothing there was actually vintage (or "old" or "retro" as I called it before I learned the cool term, "vintage") instead of what there is on the thrift racks now--trendy, flimsy, big-box cast-offs. Made of petroleum by invisible children and shippped here. Worn once. Thrown away--I guess it's lucky that some of that sheer mass stops over at the thrift stores before making its way to the inevitable pile of trendy castaways at the dump.
    What happened to wool? Cotton? Knitting? Sewing? Mending? Passing on clothing, not just in terms of heirloom-worth, but in terms of practical use?
    We need to stop engaging with disposable objects!
    And beautiful photographs.
    High-five, sister!

  13. What a thought-provoking post. I often think of the future of vintage. UFF and Fida in Helsinki are packed with cheap-ass H&M jersey and KappAhl garbage already, and the same phenomenon is certainly visible here in Binghamton, except that I don't know the brands. Cheap lycra and horrid acrylic "knits" are everywhere, and in time it will only get worse.

    You are right; when the second-hand treasures of our generation are handed over to our daughters and grandaughters, they are pretty much antiques. I try to hold onto the good stuff as well as I can, and try to create some pieces myself that I can leave behind one day. As for the ready-made "new" clothes I have, just like Andrea said, I can't think of too many that would be worth saving for the next generations.

  14. Okay...I'm off to sew some of my own clothing now. For future generations...of course!

    Also, that sweater is one of the best things I've seen in a while. Very very nice.

  15. This was such a great post, Milla, thank you.

    A xx

  16. please please
    yay for recipes!

    nettle pesto seems amazing..

  17. This is a great post! I'm not sure if you've ever seen it, but we at Threadbared (http://threadbared.blogspot.com) have been discussing the politics of vintage a lot in the last few months -- you might be interested in checking out these posts!

  18. Hey I really love the vintage style, I see each photo and I think that the clothes are so cute and classy, this style is awesome, I want go to the mall for search clothes that look like the photos!

    Izzy Mayok
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