What Does Vintage Mean? How to Buy Real Vintage

Stylish beige armchair and pouf on the cozy carpet in classy living room interior with grey settee and vintage furniture

From art and clothing to furniture and home decor, the rise of vintage has been nothing short of meteoric. As TeenVogue so eloquently puts it:

“Secondhand shopping has helped define this decade”.

We are obsessed with buying things with history or a story behind them. Shoppers might enjoy a bargain on something practical, but what really sets our hearts alight is finding that one-of-a-kind item that nobody else has.

Vintage items turn bland consumer experiences into personal journeys. They resonate in a way that few other purchases can. With that in mind, you may be asking “what does vintage mean?”

What Does Vintage Mean?

There is no set definition of the word vintage as it relates to items like furniture, decor and clothing. Vintage is simply used to describe a type of item from a bygone era. As we move forward in time, these eras change.

For example, 90s products are now considered vintage, but those of the noughties are still too modern to be categorised as such.

You may notice we’ve used the phrase “type of item”. This is because the word vintage doesn’t just mean something old. The most important aspects of vintage items are:

  • Generally speaking, a vintage item is around 20 years old or more. After about 100 years, it usually becomes something different (which we’ll explore later).
  • Vintage pieces are one of a kind or rarities. You can’t just buy them in any old shop.
  • Vintage items are not usually branded by major retailers unless they are a special edition. For example, most mass-produced smartphones will never be vintage, but the original iPhone will be, as it was a defining part of a generation. The same can be said for Nintendo’s iconic GameBoy which, for many, is already considered vintage. Their later models? Not so much.
  • Vintage items must be befitting of the era in which they were made and represent the style, trends and culture of the time. A 70s dial-up phone is considered vintage because it encapsulates the technology of the era. A white-shirt printed in the 70s does not have the same impact and is therefore not vintage.

To help you understand how real vintage works, there’s a common definition of vintage that includes the following phrase:

“Recognised for enduring interest and importance.”

This is a key distinction between something aged and something vintage. There must be a significance to the vintage item — an enduring interest or importance. This is why items from the industrial era, colonial India or the US prohibition era find specifical significance. In contrast, a set of wardrobes built by a budget hardware store for a home in a 1970s council flat are not considered vintage. If there is nothing about the item that gives it significance based on the history, the culture or the impact of the piece, then it’s not vintage.

A drinking flask, for example, is a fun gift, but mass-produced versions are a-dime-a-dozen online, even if they’re 30 years old. There isn’t a spark involved in this purchase. However, introduce a bit of genuine history to the flask — say an officer in the Indian Army once owned it during WWII — and suddenly it comes alive.

What Isn’t Vintage?

Put simply, the term vintage describes anything that falls under the above definitions. If it doesn't meet these definitions, it is not vintage.

What we really mean is that the term vintage is not something that can just be added to an item produced by a designer or retailer. You’ll often find that fashion brands call their items vintage when they’re actually mass-produced modern clothing.

Now, there is nothing wrong with buying vintage-style items, but just be aware of the difference. True vintage is special; it’s a one of a kind. True vintage is exciting and evocative with a story to tell. Vintage-style looks the part but lacks fire behind the eyes and soul beneath the surface.

Enjoy the things you love and buy what makes you happy. Just know that, if you want real vintage, you have to find real vintage.

How to Find Real Vintage Gifts and Products

Vintage items aren't sold in your normal shop. They’re sold by vintage purveyors that work hard to source genuine vintage items. Myles From Home specialises in interesting finds and unique gifts. We sell a hand-picked range of vintage gifts. Our vintage items are truly one of a kind. We scour the country and the world for the best vintage items and when they’re gone, they’re gone. You won’t find these items anywhere else because they are genuine vintage.

Explore our fantastic range of vintage gifts. Be sure to always keep an eye on our collection as new vintage products are added as we find them! 

What's the Difference between Vintage and Antique?

What is vintage will eventually become antique.

An antique is something that’s over 100 years old. Once it reaches this age, it becomes something quite historic. Antiques, as a rule, follow the same principles as vintage — they are unique, aged and are befitting of the era in which they were made.

An antique item can be vintage, but not all vintage items are antiques.

Most vintage items lose their vintage status when they get too old as they become less about revitalised fashion or trends and more about historical significance. But there is room for overlap. For example, items from the 1920s can still be considered vintage despite starting to fall into the antique category, too.

Why Buy Vintage?

Vintage purchases aren't about practicalities.

Instead, they’re fun purchases that allow you to indulge in your passions and display your personality through your possessions. Often quirky with unique twists, vintage items can be a powerful display of who you are as an individual; a statement piece that holds a personal meaning to you or your lifestyle.

One-of-a-kind vintage pieces for the home are fantastic for impressing guests and giving your environment an added layer that nobody else has. If you want to live like your home belongs on the cover of a magazine, vintage is the way to go.

Find vintage gifts that make a statement. Shop through Myles From Home to discover our unique collection of vintage items available nowhere else.

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