Tuesday, June 3, 2014

"Rare" and "Unique"

Vintage can be a funny beast sometimes. I often run across items that I think have to be one-of-a-kind because they are either so incredible and interesting, or they lack an all-important label of some sort. The thing is though, that most vintage pieces are probably not handmade or one-of-a-kind. In sorting through the deadstock or "new old stock" pieces I have I noticed that while they all have hang-tags, some do not have a label inside. 
Some dresses have no identifier except for a mysterious "Lot" tag. A lot of clothing items probably had these at some point, but I have a feeling some women might have removed these because they bothered them or they merely fell off from age.

By the time a lot of it reaches re-sellers or a new owner, it has an air of: 

"This is totally handmade because
A. It's unlined.
B. It doesn't seem that well sewn (i.e. loose threads hanging from seams inside)
C. There's not a tag in sight.
D. All of the above.
E. All of the above plus plenty of other reasons that I can't think of right now but do definitely exist."

You discover this as you casually stroll through Etsy or Ebay looking for a new blouse or dress or something and spot a look-a-like, as has happened to me many times...

I sold this Lee Wentley novelty print dress many moons ago and just saw it's sister pop up on Ebay (I didn't think this was handmade, but I found it funny spotting another one). I wanted to purchase it as I loved the one I had, but it didn't fit. Alas, I missed out, but maybe another one will appear again!

This dress came from The Shop Lady and there was a brief moment when I thought it could have been handmade as there was no label, it was unlined, and there were a lot of loose threads inside. Plus, it kind of just had that vibe, you know? 

However, there was something about it that made me believe it wasn't one-of-a-kind. And then this confirmed it:

Source (this is actually still available to buy!)
Is it weird that I got super possessive and briefly enraged about it?


moving on.

And then there's this dress that I've had for ages and have never listed:

Going by the craftsmanship and detail, you would think this was a one-time custom made deal or by some rare designer.
"There's no way they made more than one!"

Well, actually...

Still Available Here and Here

Sourced Here and Here

Granted, these are a tad different from one another, but they are variations of a theme and I could make a gorgeous beaded cocktail dress army from all that I've seen.

Then there are more that I knew flat-out weren't handmade, but I just got a kick out of finding their twin.

                                   Still Available Here!

                                     Still Available Here

It's actually a good thing that there are duplicates out there because if you're devastated that you missed something you adored, there's always the chance that you'll find another one some day!

I write this because I find it fun to spot something I had at one point and it's useful for when you want to figure out the value of an item, but knowing that just because something is vintage doesn't make it one-of-a-kind causes me to hesitate putting "rare" or "unique" in my listings. Technically, I guess vintage pieces are "rare" and "unique" because they are so difficult to find, but with so much out there already, how many things are actually the last of their kind?

Of course, this doesn't take away from their beauty or appeal, nor does it make these vintage pieces any less desirable. I would never consider not wearing a vintage dress just because someone else has the same one. That's silly. Plus, the odds of that actually occurring are slim.
However, as a person who loves the uniqueness and individuality vintage clothing brings, I sometimes forget that a lot of it was mass-produced, especially the items sold through catalogs or in department stores. And when you look at the big picture, the production of clothing back in the day pales in comparison with the way clothing is pumped out today.

With all that said I sometimes need to remind myself that while there may not be thousands or even hundreds of these items left floating around, the odds are that there is more than one out in the universe, in a closet or attic somewhere.

The goal then is to find them.


(Kudos if you got through all of that- apparently I like to ramble.)


  1. What a fascinating post! We do often forget that many of these dresses were mass-produced, but they were. Still, I imagine it's strange to find the same dress twice! I haven't had that happen to me yet. I gotta say, too, that I love that blue dress up top. Gorgeous!


  2. I love finding vintage twins! Especially if it's something I already own (I even get tempted to buy it again!) It always makes me chuckle when some sellers use the term 'one of a kind' purely because it is vintage! It's also great if you miss out on an item, only for it to make its way back to you months/ years down the line (especially if it's cheaper than the original price!) :)