Lately I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend. We have been getting more and more emails from gals who have been searching for vintage dresses online and discovered an authentic vintage dress of ours that is no longer available , then emailing us to ask when we are going to restock it. Of course this is impossible, since authentic vintage dresses are not replaceable. This used to be an isolated incident. Now it is a daily occurrence. At first I couldn’t figure out why so many people would keep asking us this, even though our product descriptions clearly state whether it’s a true vintage or vintage STYLE or Inspired piece. Basically when we call something a 1950s dress it is an honest to goodness, vintage dress from back in that era! And our new clothing is also clearly described as vintage inspired, retro, vintage style, 50s style dress, 1920s reproduction dress, etc, etc……You get the picture! We’ve been selling this product mix for years and have never had the amount of inquires like this until recently.
So I started doing some research to try and figure out why. And it didn’t take very long!
Just do a search on Google, Bing, Yahoo or search any of the social/fashion bookmarking sites for any of the above phrases and you’ll see gazillions of results, many of which will never take you to authentic vintage clothing of any kind . You know, the one of a kind, unique pieces that were actually made back in the day. This is causing a serious amount of confusion for consumers, as more and more women are making purchases and don’t even know what they are buying! And, believe me, it is happening a lot. We actually have had customers buy authentic vintage dresses from us who thought they were new! Then they email us afterwards about how much they like the dress , but wish they could exchange it for another size because it didn’t fit!
Why is this a problem? Because real vintage clothing is a often a collectible commodity that is scarce and potentially increases or at least retains its value over time. That is not necessarily the case with new vintage looking clothing. Just like furniture, you can buy a real antique piece or a new reproduction that looks like the old style. The original is usually quite different from the modern in terms of rarity, construction techniques, textiles used and value.
So you can see what I mean, here are a couple of examples I found on a recent Google search for 50s dress and vintage dresses . The first one is described as a 50s dress, but in no way looks anything like one and it is new from a very well known department store. The second is described as a “vintage dress. “ Though very cute, it is obvious from the very short skirt that it is not authentic. Hmmmmm.
And here is one of the main reasons why this is happening. Because the “vintage look” has become more popular, many companies vying for top search engine results want to optimize their websites for popular search terms to drive customers to their sites. I mean, heck, that’s what everyone with an ecommerce site needs to do and there is nothing inherently wrong with that. But if you’re driving traffic to your site based on misleading search terms that don’t accurately describe your products, then that just makes the online shopping experience for the consumer more confusing!
And let’s face it, the bigger companies, with bigger budgets, usually rise to the top of the search results. Consumers, of course, trust the brand name companies and assume their products are being described accurately. But that’s not necessarily the case. And the search engines, themselves, certainly can’t distinguish between which terms are being accurately used to describe products. So this creates a problem when you’re trying to find the right product, in this case, genuine vintage clothing. I know I have ended up wading through pages and pages of results, that lead to nothing that was even remotely close to the authentic vintage item I was searching for. It can get pretty frustrating.
So here are some helpful tips for those ladies who are searching for the real deal!
•If it available in multiple sizes, then it is NOT an authentic vintage garment.
•If the description states Made in China, it is NOT authentic vintage, though some would argue China made clothing from the 1990s is now vintage. But that’s a whole other issue that I won’t get into right now.
•If the garment has an invisible zipper, it most likely is NOT an authentic vintage piece, especially if you found it through a search for 50s dresses, or 40s dresses. They did not use invisible zippers back then.
•If the skirt is very short, it most likely isn’t a true vintage dress, unless you’re looking for an authentic 60s minidress!
•If searching for flapper dresses, be aware, authentic ones are extremely rare and not form fitting. So most of what you see online listed as a flapper dress or 20s dress is most likely a new “modernized” version of dresses from that era.
•And finally, if you’re looking for real, one of a kind, vintage clothing, try searching using more specific terms like authentic, true, one of a kind, or genuine in front of the item you’re searching for. You’ll probably have better luck that way, since online search for vintage clothing these days has become a minefield of misinformation. It is definitely buyer beware!
Has anyone else had a similar experience when trying to shop online recently for vintage clothes? Do you even care how companies describe their clothing, as long as you like it?