Anyone who has spent time shopping for vintage clothing and accessories knows that it can be very hit-or-miss. Of course, you need to go into the whole thing with the understanding that these clothes are old (or at least they should be), which means they’ve likely been worn, and may not be the most perfect, spotless, completely-intact garments.
But are they actually authentic? Well, that depends on a lot of things, including what you consider “authentic” in this context—like whether it’s actually old or a new vintage-style item trying to pass.
And then there’s the matter of fakes. While this probably wouldn’t be an issue with a Basic Editions T-shirt circa the mid-1990s, it is something that happens when you’re dealing with bigger-name luxury brands and designers. So, how do you know if a piece of vintage apparel is the real deal, or an attempt to get you to overpay? Here’s what to know.
Make sure the pieces are worth the price tag
Just to clarify: we’re not talking about items in thrift stores, where prices are kept relatively low, and sometimes they’re attached to a nonprofit organization. We’re talking about actual vintage shops and websites, with curated collections of clothing and significantly higher prices. Because you’re paying a premium for these pieces, you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth and not getting scammed.
How to tell if a vintage item is a fake
OK, so how do you spot a fake? According to Jillian Clark, a costume designer in Los Angeles, that all depends on how good the fake is. Here are three tips from an interview she did with Real Simple:
Check the logo
“Most fakes are easy to spot based on whichever logo or design they are mimicking,” Clark told Real Simple. “Most often, the design will be altered ever-so-slightly, so it can go almost entirely unnoticed by an unconcerned consumer.”
Check the label
When it comes to vintage designer clothing, Clark says that most items will have some sort of “label of authenticity” or its original labels sewn in—which are not easy to replicate.
Shop with a trusted vintage retailer
Finally, Clark advises sticking to vintage clothing dealers you know and trust—and wouldn’t try to sell you fakes in the first place.