The hipster stole my shoes

4 October 2013

Written by: Louise Bianco

I want your old bag, but I don’t want to pay a week’s rent for it.

Like art and wine, some clothes become more valuable and appreciated with age.

What’s not appreciated, however, is the skyrocketing cost of things that are not vintage but just plain old.

A World War One bomber jacket – that’s almost antique; an Audrey Hepburn-style LBD from the ’60s – that’s vintage; a floral peplum Laura Ashley dress from the ’80s – that’s retro; old Target boots from five years ago – that’s just rubbish.

Apparently nothing is old anymore. It goes straight from outdated to vintage. As it is, everything is vintage and it’s making things really expensive.

For some, op shopping is a way to spend free time and save a couple of bucks. Others see it as a way to furnish a new share house. For a certain few, it’s like the irresistible call of the wild.

Unfortunately, the prices in some op shops and markets are unbelievable.

Second-hand stalls at Camberwell Market now charge more than shop price for most ‘vintage’ items. And they get away with it, because it is now fashionable to wear clothes that look old.

The unique grungy, street-style of the hipster subculture is now in demand.

Hipsters have been haunting the inner-city for a decade, but now their influence is being absorbed into the mainstream culture.

Currently there are more hipster-style shops popping up in trendy areas around Fitzroy and Collingwood than ever before.

Cultural researcher at Sydney’s Notre Dame University, Sam Egan says these shops are hugely profiting from the vintage craze.

“They’re really selling at a premium price… $40 to $50 just for a T-Shirt. In a lot of cases that’s much more expensive than it would be to go to a normal shop and buy a new T-Shirt,” says Egan.

People are now willing to spend huge amounts on clothes that have already been to worn to bits.

The time has come to start investing in clothes to sell as vintage later. They could be sealed and stored to ensure the best quality and superior price. At the going rate, vintage clothes could become an alternative to shares.

Last year Ralph Lauren started hand-picking second-hand items from their old collections to sell on their new site, RL Vintage.

While prices are not disclosed, the customer who offers the highest bid gets the item. And given a brand new leather jacket costs around $800 to $900, a one-off jacket of the same quality will surely hold a hefty price tag.

Historic brand, Levi Strauss also now have a Vintage Clothing line that sells exact replicas of their 19th and 20th Century designs. Jeans that were once sold at $1.95 now retail at $110. Some online vintage boutiques are even selling the original 1890 jeans for as much as $444.

A little bit closer to home, online shopping site, ASOS now has its own Marketplace section, inviting anyone to sell their second-hand items at vintage prices. And Australian brand Sportsgirl have introduced a ‘Finders Keepers’ collection that consists of reconstructed clothing and accessories sold well above what the owner originally paid.

Sportsgirl’s public-relations and events manager, Prue Willsher says, “it’s like having a vintage market slap bang in the middle of the store and is driven by an ever-increasing demand for unique and individual vintage fashion.”

It’s incredible that threadbare dresses and sole-less shoes can still be sold at premium prices when hours of TLC from the sewing basket are needed to make them even remotely wearable.

Some things are not vintage they are just old and desperately need to be thrown out. A line needs to draw between vintage and junk.

And while I’m pleased the revival of second-hand fashion means it is no longer sneered at, I’m not too happy with its price. I’m still waiting for the day when vintage and second-hand are no longer interchangeable.

However, in the meantime I can join those profiting out of this trend. I might just relabel my old clothes ‘vintage’ and sell them at a high price. At least then I can fund my next trip to the op shop.


Hannah RabeTHUMBHannah Rabe is a third-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University. Find her on Twitter: @hannahrabe1. Read more of her work on her blog: