Rhiannon Harries: 'Can we stop calling clothes you'd lost in your wardrobe 'vintage''

Share
Related Topics

In the great tradition of all female travellers experiencing a sartorial crisis at a UK transport hub, I found myself last month in the Heathrow branch of Accessorize. The strap on my handbag, I explained superfluously to the shop assistant, had broken, which had come as no surprise, as it was vintage. She asked if it had been very expensive. Not really, I told her, as I hoisted the defunct gold 1980s number on to the counter (although, considering the craftsmanship, a tenner was indeed quite pricey). Upon sight, she laughed like a drain and said, "Oh right, it's just old."

Indignation aside, she was right. These days, to describe something as vintage – "vint-ah-ge" if you're a member of the Grazia generation – means only that it has not hung on the rails at "Primark Jacobs" within the past week. Clothes you found in charity shops or the back of your mother's wardrobe are vintage. So are clothes found at the back of your own wardrobe. Anything you have bought from somewhere slightly dodgy will, if at all possible, be passed off as vintage should anyone ask. On several occasions I've clocked hipsters on street-style blogs claiming as vintage pieces that I recognise as two-seasons-old Zara. OK, close call on who's the more tragic there.

Vintage has exploded in the nine years since I bought a 1980s dress for my university ball, then instantly regretted it as I walked into a sea of Identikit strapless Monsoon numbers. Now there are vintage concessions everywhere from Topshop to Harvey Nicks, and popstrels such as Paloma Faith (below) come ready-made in thrift-store chic. Next month there is even a festival at Goodwood dedicated to music and fashion from the 1940s to the 1980s. At least they drew the line at the 1990s.

Handily, chucking on a few bits of vintage clobber atones for all sorts of sins. You might be carrying a £700 bag, but you can't be that shallow if you're willing to wear stuff that's been worn by a stranger. Ethical, too: it also takes the edge off that sweatshop bargain you're sporting.

But what once seemed aesthetically daring now looks depressingly unimaginative. There's plenty of stuff out there that it would be criminal to bin, but embracing wholesale anything that predates your last dental check-up is ridiculous. I'm in favour of an appellation contrôlée system where vintage really does mean the best of what an era had to offer. Stephen Bayley can oversee it. And if he can stage interventions for people buying gold handbags at inflated prices from trendy shops in Brick Lane, I for one would be grateful.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Sales Account Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Client Services Account Co-ordinator

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Police officers attempt to stop illegal migrants from jumping onto trucks headed for Britain in the northeastern French port of Calais on October 29, 2014  

Tighter security in Calais won’t solve the problem

Nigel Morris
 

Football needs its Martin Luther moment, and soon

Boyd Tonkin
US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines