Friday, June 25, 2010
OMG, it really IS vintage!
1. No contemporary tags. I know some of you girls have not been around as long as I have but please try to familiarize yourself with brands. If something has a Merona tag (Target), Nine West, Old Navy or so forth, it is NOT vintage! These brands have only been around for the past ten to 15 years.
2. Where is it made? These are not hard and fast rules, but, if a bag has a "Made in China" tag it likely dates to the past ten years. Made in Sri Lanka or Malaysia, likely 10 - 15 years. Made in Hong Kong?; likely dates to the 1970's. Made in Japan?; likely dates post-second World War to the 1950's and 1960's. Items made in the USA vary. If it is handmade or by a specialty company it could be new. If mass-produced, items made in the USA likely date to the 1960's or earlier.
3. Hardware. Hardware is a really good clue to age of bags. If something needs to buckle with a metal buckle, zip with a metal zipper or clasp with a metal clasp it always gets my attention. These are signs of quality construction and are also often indicators of a vintage bag. Yes, contemporary bags do buckle and some have metal zippers, but, most are designed for ease of use and even if they have these details there are usually hidden modern details to clue you in to the fact that they are more recently made.
4. Materials. Early handbags were most often fabric, beaded or leather. Into the 1940's and 1950's they were also mostly fabric or leather with some hard plastics like lucite for bodies and handles. It really is not until you get into the 1960's that you start to see soft synthetics used for handbags. And unfortunately, many of these early synthetics were still new to the market and unstable. Always check to make sure a faux leather 1960's bag is not "sticky" feeling or it may be an indication of deterioration. Likewise, if the interior lining is "dusting" (breaking down and creating "dust" when touched or moved) think long and hard about the investment. Once in a while these bags are still too great to pass up, but, if they are falling apart, literally, at the seams, be wary. In the 1970's synthetics were often used, and were more stable, but not nearly as convincing as those used in later years. Once you are looking at a synthetic bag that really looks and feels like leather, you are usually into the 1980's and later.
So, how did I know this was vintage? First of all, there is NO tag. A vintage tag would be useful for sure, but, the absence of a "Made in China" or similar tag on a bag in this good condition is a clue in itself. Second, the hardware used to close it. It is metal and requires twisting to clasp. It is riveted through and visible on the inside as well. You just don't see hardware used on bags like this anymore. Anything made in the past 20 - 30 years would have either a plastic twist style clasp, or, more commonly now, a magnetic or large flat snap type clasp at the closure. Third, the great oval shaped pads where the handles are attached. You just don't see this type of attention to detail on contemporary, unmarked bags. Finally, the feel of the materials. This is hard to convey via the web, but, the construction of the bag, with solid inserts that can be felt beneath the vinyl surface, and, even the texture and color of the vinyl is a clue. The bag is older, for sure.
is already for sale in my shop. I had to put it with the other mod items right away.
Oh, and that mod dress you saw peeking into one of the photos above? I found this one-piece number today too. The tag is long gone, but again, clearly (to me!) vintage. I will post this one later in the summer with some other fab color-block mod dresses for the office...