Musty, was the first thought while I was entering every vintage store I visited today, even though I had my mask, the smell forced its way into my nose. Other than that, I love vintage stores, is it the prices, the unique and individual product, or the nostalgia? Or maybe is it all of them together? As I’m speaking right now, I am wandering at the end of my day in Brussels. I just finished off my last store I will all tell you about. There is this one question that has been stuck in my head all day, “What reasons do people buy vintage clothing for?” I of course enjoy it for my own personal reasons, but I was very curious about other responses and went to ask and look around.
Vintage clothing: What is it? Who buys it? And why do people buy it? A typical what, why, who question that after today might be answered all. How I see it, the word ‘vintage’ refers to clothing that is between 20 and 100 years old and clearly represents the period in which it was made. To be considered vintage, a piece must closely represent the styles and patterns of the time period in question. As for the who question I started the day thinking it’s the teenagers/students/adolescences that enjoy finding some clothing that may have descended from a very expensive price to a very cheap one. I believe that students don’t always have a big budget and it can always be nice to shop some stuff for a much cheaper price. But as I visited all the stores, I also came across to some adults seeking for vintage clothes because they liked finding stuff from their younger time. For my last question I got a lot more answers than expected which I want to enlighten you in a couple of bullets.
“It is soooo much cheaper and I love it” a lovely girl told me with a smile, I am located in the first store; Episode on the 28th of the Violetstraat. Episode is by far my favorite vintage store, I am more of a vintage branded clothing seeker such as Nike, Adidas, Champion, Tommy Hilfiger, Levi’s and so much more. And that’s why this store is perfect for me, I have found many clothing and paid a bit over 100 euros and got to enjoy more pieces than I would have if I bought in a retail store for full price. This girl I was talking to told me she was in the store for already over an hour and had her store basket full of things like a pair of shoes, a top with a funky writing on which I couldn’t fully read properly, some baggy jeans etc. She explained to me that she’d rather have a larger wardrobe of vintage clothing customized in various styles and fabrics than having a small wardrobe of expensive new designer clothes. She also added that vintage clothes are not only less expensive, but it has a higher long-term value. As a result, if you wish to resell your vintage apparel, you can rest assured that you will receive the full value of your investment.
“It makes me look so unique!” this guy before me waiting in line spoke to me. Now I relocated myself in the second store, which is the Melting Pot Kilo on the 2nd of the Visverkopersstraat. This store has such a nice system which is why I like visiting it. As the name says it for itself where you pay per kilo. There are no prices on the clothing pieces, you basically pick some things out that you want to buy and if you collected a kilo, you pay 15 euros. You are not obligated to get a kilo, if you have less you pay less of course. The guy I was talking to told me he almost only shops at vintage stores because he simply likes to be unique, and I could feel the enthusiasm in his voice while he was talking about it. He explained to me that when you buy a vintage item, you can be certain that you will never step into a room and see someone wearing the same thing as you. The most special vintage is completely one-of-a-kind and full of amusing nuances that can’t be replicated; the prints, pintucks, buttons… there’s nothing quite like them. Then he concluded with; This is a big reason why so many celebrities are big fans of vintage clothing: they know they’ll stand out from the crowd on the red carpet and won’t end up in a “Who Wore it Best” column. There’s something to be said about having and wearing something that almost no one else on the planet has or can wear.
“Trends of the past are always coming back” The cashier said to me, whilst arriving at the last store I visited called Bison 4 on the 4th of Verversstraat. I don’t know if many remember but January 2021 was THE month where everybody had that The North Face puffer jacket. While these coats already existed for years and it’s because it’s a trend that everybody wants them now. The coats are almost everywhere sold out or people sell them for a much higher price since everybody wants them so bad. So, around the end of January Bison 4 got some of these coats and called it ‘The North Face Drop’ and I was the lucky one to be there. Not only do they sell coats but also vintage football shirts, sweatpants and anything another vintage store would sell. Since this vintage store is very known in Brussels, they also created their own merchandise. As the cashier was explaining she told me that fashion trends reappear on a regular basis. Her mom used to tell her that she would never throw away any of her clothing because fashions would always come back around. From leggings, which were common in the 1980s, to high-waisted shorts, which were fashionable in the 1950s. These products, which are now staples in the modern wardrobe, were created decades ago. Now that I realize it is true because even, I have found some denim jeans, blouses or sweatshirts from my mom’s old closet and I really appreciate wearing them now, while my mom wears the classy stuff now. It’s basically called recycling.
During my day I have tried interviewing some people and most of them were very enthusiastic about it but of course not everybody speaks as passionate about it so this one guy I asked replied with “Buying vintage clothing isn’t really my thing, I am kind of disgusted by the fact that people before you wore it, and you never know what happened with it.” As I indeed expected some people are weirded out that it’s already been worn by God knows who and what happened to it. Now a days the vintage shopping has been changed over the years, I feel like years ago a lot more people weren’t really into it, but as clothing styles develop more and more people like to extend their style from others and try different things and combinations, just not to dress the same as everybody on this world.
Is it good quality though? As I was checking out three stores today, I can confirm you and I think that others know this Dutch saying too: “wie zoekt die vindt.” Which means “who seeks who finds.” You really shouldn’t have any expectations while walking in a vintage store because unlike retail stores they don’t have a site with multiple pieces of the same clothing with different sizes, you find what they have so you really have to seek some good stuff. But what is good quality for you? Some might say something not ripped, others might say the opposite. Then other people can say they want something original while others may they want vintage designer clothes that are a fraction of what you would buy for something new. I myself can even find a cloth or whatever and make something out of it if I want to. It’s really how you see yourself wearing it. Finding something of ‘good quality’ in this kind of stores is difficult to say because everybody has a different look on what they want or of what they like.