If you go by the common definition that vintage describes clothing which is at least twenty years old, the early Nineties are now officially vintage. Festival curator Wayne Hemmingway has been making the news this week by including the Nineties in his line-up for the Vintage Festival this summer, prompting a lot of discussion among long time vintage wearers as to what constitutes vintage.

What do you think, is the very distinct early Nineties look – think Salt N Pepa, Friends or The Fresh Prince – vintage? Is there a difference between teenagers in the Nineties buying Seventies to teenagers today buying early Nineties clothing? How do you define vintage?

13 Responses

  1. Vintage Smart

    These days everyone seems to understand and use the term ‘Vintage’ differently and no-one can stop them. Using the expression ” common definition” is part of the problem. Just because one group of people ‘understand’ the term to mean one thing does not make it so! The dictionary definition is the only exact one and that may change as expressions frequently evolve in common usage. The dictionary definition is suitably wooly that it can be interpreted variously almost to suit anyone’s demands. It is clearly a debate that rouses strong emotions amongst Vintage sellers and officianados. In my experience the buying public is similarly confused but cares little as long as they like what they are buying and are not misled about the period from which it originated.

    • Lena

      Yes that’s a very good point. Personally I don’t mind the various interpretations of vintage but when it comes to listing last summer’s Primark on eBay as ’40s vintage tea dress’ things become an issue.

  2. Perdita

    I was one of those 60s-70s wearing teens in the 90s. It connected in to a lot of the political, historical and, yes, fashionable research I have done over the years to become my vintage self!

    So whilst I’m not sure I’d call 90s vintage *yet*, I don’t think we should get into high dudgeon about it. It will come to pass.

    Personally I find the ‘Cath Kidston effect’ has resulted in a backlash against post 60s vintage recently. Sometimes from real experts… sadly more often from people who just like the romance of wearing repro 50s stuff. I’m more than willing to debate with people who are like antiques-experts-but-with-pre-60s-clothing however I give the cupcake brigade who simply regurgitate ’50s good, 70s bad’ like the sheep in Animal Farm short shrift.

    • Lena

      You know how I feel about the 60s and 70s so I completely agree! I am genuinely intrigued to know how the hardcore 50s group feels about the beatnik look for example, so unwashed jeans and white T-shirt or black skin-tight pants with a black polo shirt. Utterly 50s but not following the cliches.

  3. Paul Hayward

    I never would think in the 1990s as a vintage era, simply, because they can’t be compared with the real vintage decades like the 1960s or the 1940s. Despite time runs fast, time is no reason to call recent decades vintage only for it, because compared with another decades they were anodyne, bad fashioned, empty of charm and glamour, empty of this ‘soul’ that characterized other decades; they are too contemporany already, with her computers, her mad marketing, etc, to think in them like a vintage. It’s like this decade, I won’t call her ‘vintage’ 10 years ahead, nor 20 or 30, because it hasn’t the qualities that made us remind and love past decades we call vintage.

  4. Jeannine

    I totally agree with you Lena – that is so irritating to me! When people list things as vintage and those of us who actually know our eras can tell they just bought it last year for crying out loud. Personally, I don’t consider the 90s vintage yet. Just seems way too recent to me – of course I can hardly believe it’s 2012 soooooo Jen

  5. kSto

    I was a 40s-50s wearing teen in the ’70s, so I was very irritated to see ’90s teens wearing my high school clothes! It is human nature to romanticize times we missed. I didn’t care much for ’70s styles at the time. Now I wear pieces from that era that wouldn’t have fit into a teenager’s lifestyle, but work great for a “grown person.” That being said, the 90s are my least favorite fashion era–too minimalist and too many recycled ideas. I suppose the parameters of vintage can’t help but keep shifting. To me, mid-20th century design (30s-70s) will always be the Golden Age of Vintage.

  6. Penny Dreadful Vintage

    The further times move on the more we can appreciate the good parts of each era. If you look at what ‘real’ people wore in the depression era 30s it sometimes wasn’t very pretty, but of course we watch old films with glamorous stars and start to see that decade through rose-tinted glasses. I think there are certainly styles of the 90s which are starting to stand out as being iconic of that era – think Moschino’s quirky designs, Versace prints, Tom Ford era Gucci satin blouses etc. And from the street, grunge and hip hop, and latterly the Manchester Brit Pop look were all very distinct styles. I think it is silly to be snobby about these things – fashion is a type of art. There is good art and bad art, and good fashion and bad fashion, from every era.

  7. VintageAgent

    I’m in a tizzy about it. Retro followed vintage. Retro is 1960s-1980s/90s. Vintage 1920s-1950s. …That’s how I would define it 🙂

    When dealing in 20th century furniture during the early 90s, retro was being adopted for the organic plastic 60s items, then tubular metal design and so on.

    The Acid baggy culture and social fashion along with haute couture is a fine era, but I don’t believe you can sell with the ‘vintage’ label, such a hallmark requires discernment. The 90s is pushing into the retro era and out of the modern.

    Cheers, Howard.

  8. meg

    all I know is that in 1996 I was 16 and wore brown lipliner with a pale matte lipstick in the middle. I can remember my father when I went out one night said ” it looks like you have a sphincter on your” lol. sor y that is crude but it was kinda true. I can remember some of my girlfriends SUPER overlining with the brown and in retrospect it looked so terrible.

    • Lena

      Oh yes…Although I was more into grunge, which required lots of eye liner.

  9. sally

    I sell vintage on etsy and do include a bunch of early 90s items. Some of the clothes are so great, it would be a shame not to include them!

    I do understand that early 90s has very recently reached vintage status, but I don’t believe that its newness makes it any less legitimate or valuable.

    Whether we like it or not, the 90s is nostalgized now. 90s is in. And for today’s teenagers especially, this particular decade holds a mystique. Not so far away that it is unrelatable, but just far enough that it is mysterious and romantic.

    Perhaps it makes some feel old that a decade which they remember so well is now considered vintage? This could account for the aversion to including 90s clothes in our vintage wardrobes.