Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Warning: Retail Giants are on to us! Vintage Reproductions, your thoughts?

In the photo above we even have some owl string art! Wow! Photo sneakily snapped with a smart phone.

Squint your eyes, there's blinding light from 1,000 lamps in this exotic territory. We're not in the thrift stores we're familiar with, we're in Earth Bound Trading Company, a retail titan not unlike Urban Outfitters or Anthropologie. You'd be lying if you said they didn't appeal to you, with their diverse array of colors and texture, impeccable branding, and perfectly staged merchandise. This is just one vignette of many revealing they're on to us!

Exact Made-in-China reproductions fill the shelves of stores across the world. The trend of seeking unique items from vintage shops, thrift stores, and online has been replicated effectively by retail shops, they're hitting us where it hurts! You can't even walk down the aisles of Walmart or Target without seeing a "treasure" that looks like what we seek in the thrifts. And sometimes you'll want it! Or buy it, fess up!

Some resellers and thrifters love it, some hate it. As for me, I'm ready to compete. There's no substitute for real vintage items made in the past, and people will pay to have it over a Made in China copy. In the meantime, I love browsing these stores for inspiration. They're borrowing from us, but it can go both ways! Bring it, Retail Man!

How do you feel about the vintage reproduction trend? Is it directly hurting our business? Do you love, hate it?
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29 comments:

  1. If people can't find vintage, they'll pay top dollar for something that looks like vintage. It's nothing new, but it's something I've always disliked. I don't shop at thrift stores to find the cutest/coolest thing, I shop there because it's affordable and reasonable and I can find things I enjoy.

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    1. Same for me, except now I shop at thrifts for work, too.

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  2. Manufacturers have been making reproductions for years. Always have. Always will. Yet there is still an even larger market for authentic vintage and it always will be.

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    1. Yes indeed. It's interesting to see reproductions of retro 60s to 90s stuff these days versus reproductions of more "traditional" antiques I saw growing up.

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  3. Meh. It's not a new thing at all. Some people like to go out and hunt for authentic stuff or for deals and some don't. Some people just want to go somewhere to find everything easily. Thrifting and antiquing are hobbies that some people don't engage in. Whatever floats your boat. I like that my bedroom has nothing new in it ('cept a mattress and art), but some people don't want that.

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    1. It is new to me to see a particular 60s-90s retro groovy style in reproduction, but that makes sense since enough time has passed to make it all trendy and desirable again. I like slowly building a home of secondhand items because it's inexpensive. The side affect of it making my home unique, fun, and quirky isn't bad, either.

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  4. Well, I have to say that I do buy things from places like this...and it hurts when i finally see something like it at a thrift store, garage sale, antique mall, etc. But Birdilicious is right, if I can't find it & I want it NOW I go to those stores.

    But...I think it's all about education. I used to do a lot of blog stuff (or tried to rather) about what I've found for $5 bucks that looks like it could've come from a place for $50. If info is out there that you can get the same high end look for like 95% off, then more people will want to do it. Also education out there that if you buy from thrifts or antique malls, flea markets, etc you're stimulating local economy. That $$ doesn't pass through like300 hoops.....it directly helps out the person running the shop, the community, etc.

    Great post!

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    1. With interior design people want to make a statement no matter the cost sometimes. When I worked full time and didn't thrift as much I'd sometimes get impatient and get the retail option. Now that I have to thrift for my work I can be patient knowing I'll find the right thing eventually. No shame in the game, especially when things marked down on clearance can cost less than thrift store prices at times.

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  5. Dont mind it at all. All it does is raise interest and awareness of what I do. I have experienced a great upswing in selling vintage as a new generation of women are looking to collect and decorate. My main issue is with that damn Cookie Lee. I sell lots of rhinestone brooches.Every now and then she pops up.

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    1. Good to know that it can help us sell the real deal. Reproductions can be trickier to weed out when we're thrifting, though...

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  6. My customers often ask me if my things are really old or just look that way. It pleases me to no end to tell them that it is the real deal from a barn on the German countryside. Seems to me that they appreciate the authenticity too, well except for one lady who asked if I had one that hadn't rusted.

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    1. Most people who want antiques want that patina, history, and story. There will always be a market for it. I have encountered people that want prestine, fresh "antiques", an oxymoron! They might have been trained by the reproduction market? ;)

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  7. Personally I prefer the real thing, real vintage items are so much better made than the new reproduction crap out there, back in the day housewares were made to last, that's why we can fill our homes with gorgeous retro stuff that's still in fantastic condition, this new style of reproduction is just to set a trend that will die out and the stuff is only made to last as long as the trend, we live in a throw-away society unfortunately and the quality of products being made these days reflects that!

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    1. Agreed, I appreciate the quality that goes into the real thing.

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  8. I agree with you that these can not compete with original vintage items. people who are into those are pretty die hard. I would think these objects are more in mind for the consumer who would not set foot in a flea market but wants to feel kitschy and creative. what I do like about vintage repro is that some vintage items you just feel too nervous to use all the time (daily plates, kids' toys, something that would get handled a lot). these items let you keep the general home style without worrying about if your nephew breaks an irreplaceable ___

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    1. I don't like to use precious, rare, vintage or designer items for everyday use because I'm clumsy. I decided to go ahead and start using gorgeous mod cups- two are broken now. Bad idea! I like to thrift for pretty ones of any era- just not so pretty that my heart shatters along with them when they break.

      My thoughts exactly, retail stores aren't just selling repo items, they're selling manufactured kitschy creative "bohemian chic," a little like we do, it's going to the thrift stores and antique stores to find quirk items "for them".

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  9. They can try, but if someone is really into the vintage stuff, they aren't going to be easily sold on the mass produced items. Real vintage is always going to be better quality and character.

    And don't get me wrong, I love owls as much as the next chick (haha), but I think that Target and whoever are going to overkill the sweet little bird. They find something and beat it to the ground. I can't be the only one who gets sick of the repetition. I also personally don't like supporting these giant stores and would rather shop small.

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    1. I'm glad people are still willing to shop small even though it costs more- we need more people who want to do this. Agreed, I love owls but it's everywhere. They're killing it.

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  10. Some of the wear on my a few items make the item a little more enjoyable. Like all of us, I prefer the real deal. I go into Urban Outfitters, don't have the others in Toronto, to look around. I like to gawk at the prices of the items that are so overpriced & also check out what reproductions are now on the market. I do love their discount section, sometimes there are some gems in there. I've only bought one thing from there, besides some glasses that the BF wanted, that wasn't on sale - a dog figurine that looked like a miniature of my dog. I don't shop retail much, but my boyfriend is a retail whore. I got duped by a repro not to long ago, all my common sense went out the window... dunno how it happened.

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    1. Some of those repos can be really tricky! I do like to buy repo vintage nostalgic t-shirts because I love the graphic designs on them and they do sell in the shops. Urban Outfitters fills me with several feelings: awe over good marketing and display, inspiration, want for the pretty sparkling things, and hate for the big corporate machine producing it all ;) Retail is inspiration-only for me unless something I need is on clearance.

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  11. Yea, I noticed some of the reproductions on the market. But I also believe the true lovers of vintage will settle for nothing but the real thing. It's not only a look, but a the quality and feel of originals that make a differance.

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    1. Yep, there will always be a market for the real deal.

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  12. My refusal to buy the "vintage look" from major retails boils down to more of an ethical standpoint that a disdain for major retails in general.

    I like the "look" of Urban Outfitters, but they have been accused of stealing artists' designs in the past for their cheap, Made in China goods without any credit (or payment) to the artist. I refuse to give a penny of my money to a company that would participate in that. I'm not an artist myself, but I can only imagine the pain of stumbling across *my* design being sold by a mass retailer and not getting paid for it.

    Furthermore, I'm trying to only buy from ethical sources. It's so hard when the line between what is ethical and what is not is so often blurred. But I know buying from a thrift store to support local jobs and charities is closer to ethical than supporting mega-bajillion dollar companies that source their goods from what boils down to sweatshops. I know that there is unethical activity in all levels of retail, but I try to do what I can to not support it. I think if we all make a concerted effort to limit the amount of big retail purchases we make, we can make a big enough dent in their profits that they'll soon think twice about how they source their merch.

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    1. I have witnessed their theft of indie artist's designs. The ones I saw they stole from where generic designs that the artist's themselves didn't come up with on their own (like the infamous heart-in-state designs they got bad PR for stealing) but the evidence is there. They also help some designers by carrying canvas prints of their work. I like to visit the stores for the genius displays and designs. I even ran into my former art professor there twice, they know how to get us arty types to visit! But I don't buy anything there anymore. I did buy the stuff on deep clearance before.

      Thinking about the lack of ethics that go into giving us the lowest prices possible on merchandise is another thing that keeps me from giving money to conventional retail sources.

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  13. It's a testament to the popularity of what I(we)know is an important part of present times. An old man back in the 70's when I was a teenager told me "In twenty years these'll be the good ole days" and he was right. What is gonna fill the shelves of our Thrift/Antique stores in 30, 40 or 50 years and will Made in China replace Made in Occupied Japan? I feel we are bringing a piece if history to folks that connect to a particular item and you just can't get that in a big box store. My opinion is the people that do go there are really and truly missing the whole point of being (or going) Vintage.

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    1. Agreed, TC. Many collect vintage for the history, it's a piece with a story to tell.

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  14. Mock vintage is an occasional guilty pleasure of mine. Target has launched a limited line of goods dubbed in-store as "The Curiosity Shoppe," which features muted 70s tones, vintage style font, owls, faux vintage dinger mugs, etc. All cute and relatively affordable (when compared to an Urban Outfitters, for example). But it's nothing compared to finding the real thing...dirt cheap...at the thrift.

    But here's an enigma....don't you love when the leftover mock vintage from Target that was already reduced to clearance...gets donated to the thrift? It happens to Goodwills near me ALL THE TIME.

    I'll just play the waiting game if I want it that badly... It might just show up!

    <3 Jackie @ Let's Go Thrifting!
    http://LetsGoThrifting.blogspot.com

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    1. I've seen the reproductions at the thrifts, like you said, sometimes patience is the game to play. I do eye-hump the pretty reproductions in the stores.

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  15. Not new at all, think of all the Coke and Pepsi repros that abound. Even Kewpie dolls had a repro resurgence at one point. Those of us who like the real thing won't buy, its for the rubes who want a "look'. XXX Jet

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