Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Cost of Vintage-Is it Getting Too Expensive?

When I first started out selling vintage online, the most difficult aspect of this business was how to price the garments. It's no secret that vintage has gone up in price - basic economic law of supply and demand. The demand is there, but the supply is dwindling, so the price has gone up.

Many years ago, while I was working late into the night, I received an email from someone claiming that my prices were too high. I responded politely, but she kept coming at me claiming she could not understand why these dresses were so expensive. Suffice to say, we had an email argument - the only one I have ever, and hope to ever have!

True vintage in my opinion, is pre -1970s. These garments are now 30+ years old and as can be expected, are more fragile and delicate, requiring more attention and care in order to be worn again. The pricing of a garment lies not only in the prosperity of the designer label, but rather in how it came to be in a store once again.

Marge, from Born too Late Vintage wrote a great little article on the Vintage Bulletin recently regarding this issue. There is a great amount of time spent on each item to bring it back to a wearable state. It is not a matter of putting something in a store. Items are chosen, washed and/or dry-cleaned, inspected for flaws, repaired when possible, photographed, measured, descriptions written, historical research done if needed, and finally uploaded to a website. All these steps can take days, sometimes weeks, each step contributing to pricing an item.

Loss of inventory happens all the time too. After a careful cleaning (or two), and due to the fragility of older fabric, sometimes the garment just falls apart. Sometimes the color runs, stains are not removable, odors remain - a variety of mishaps may occur and we vintage sellers are the owners of many unwearable and un-sellable items. Again, these must all be taken into consideration of the price of a piece.

If one wants a cheap vintage dress, there are many bargains to be had in the charity shops. The buyer however runs the risk of not knowing what they may have and damaging it with a basic cleaning - a loss to the buyer and the rest of us who may have known how to deal with the garment. The bonus of a qualified vintage dealer is that they know what they are doing. A purchase from one of us will guarantee a wearable garment, a clean garment, a garment free of extra repairs - in other words, what I like to call 'move-in' condition.

So if a price seems high to you in that vintage store, think of everything that has gone into getting it ready. And do not be shy in haggling - just be fair. I certainly have no problem haggling or offering further discounts in my store, I want people to be happy and have what they desire.

On the flip side however, there are dealers who will price something outrageously high just because they think they can. Collectible labels such as Chanel can command incredibly high prices and rightly so. However, the basic cotton 50s swing dress with no label and perhaps a flaw or two should not be hundreds of dollars. This is just my opinion.

What do you think of the cost of vintage?

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