Sorting Out the Clothing Terms: Vintage, Used, Secondhand, & Retro

vintage clothing retail

Used clothing. Vintage style. Retro fashion.

Are these three entire different things, or one in the same kind of couture?

Before we get into the terminology of clothes, we need to understand what clothes are and how style evolves. Style is one of the fastest evolving things in the universe. What’s hot today can be mild tomorrow, and ultra-hot in a year or two.

You might have an absolute gold mine in your grandma’s clothing dresser. Understanding the key difference between terms can help you determine what’s hot or not, or even if you can make some money on the side.

Why is Second-Hand Clothing Terminology Important?

women wearing retro fashionTerminology is extremely important when it comes to clothing.

It sets different styles, types, and trends apart. While you might think two things mean the same thing, they might mean something completely different. Different styles, trends, and types of clothing carry vastly different price tags, so you also need to know what you’re dealing with before you attempt to buy or sell anything.

Vintage Clothing

Vintage clothing is, simply put, clothing from another era. Depending on its origin, brand, and current trends, vintage clothing can be extremely valuable. Its condition is also an enormous factor. If it is in mint condition, bought but never worn, it could be of extreme value. Subpar condition, on the other hand, is unlikely to fetch much.

couple shopping in vintage clothing storeUsed clothing can also affect the price tag on vintage clothing, and it’s better to be worn than sold. Vintage clothing has almost always been in style and will likely remain in style. There is a huge difference between vintage looking clothing and outdated looking clothing, as old, rugged, and plain, unstylish clothing was never, and never will be a trend.

If you’re going to purchase some vintage used clothing, you really need to pay attention to the measurements. Since vintage clothing is from another era, you really need to check the measurements of that era and where the piece of clothing comes from. An American ‘S’ small size is far different from a European S, and even more different than an older American S size.

There is a difference between vintage clothing and vintage style clothing, which you also need to keep in mind when you’re browsing. The two can be exactly alike, but the price tag on one can be extremely high, and extremely low on the other one.

How come? The vintage style is a style very similar to retro that is inspired by vintage clothing and is produced in the newer ages using modern ways. Therefore, it can be brand new, high quality, at a fraction of the cost. So, if you’re looking to look trendy and vintage but don’t want your wallet to suffer, this might be the stylish choice for you!

Used Clothing / Second-Hand Clothing

used clothing on rackUsed or second-hand clothing is just that. It can be anything from the biggest brands from last year or the last 10 years, and it can be a plain old white tee. In turn, the value of this clothing choice can vary significantly.

If you bought a Gucci sweater last year for an arm and a leg, it’s still very likely to hold a lot of value. You can buy the greatest hits of last year at second-hand stores, garage sales, flea markets for an absolute fraction of the price. But a plain white tee is going to be a plain white tee, used clothing or new. It’s going to be inexpensive to buy new, and even cheaper to buy pre-owned.

The difference between second-hand clothing and used clothing is fairly simple. Used clothing is always second hand, but second-hand clothing is not always used. Remember that pair of jeans you got for your birthday that was just a bit too tight around the waist? You’ve decided on selling it? It was pre-owned, but not used.

Used and Second-Hand clothing is generally a good and stylish choice and is pretty cheap to get. If you get lucky, you might be able to find something extremely valuable and cute for absolutely nothing.

Retro Fashion

To the untrained eye, retro clothing might appear to be the same as vintage clothing, but that’s not really the case. Retro clothing vintage styled clothes might draw inspiration from similar waters, but are far different when it comes to manufacturing and thought.

recycling clothingWhereas vintage styled clothes mostly deal with reproduction, retro-styled clothing tries to make a blend of the older style and newer style, into an interesting and trendy blend.

Retro clothes are also drawing inspiration from a newer age than vintage, as it only takes 10-15 years something to be considered retro, while for a piece of clothing to become Vintage or Antique, the process might take 30+ years.

To further the picture of what retro clothing is, look at the most modern brands and what they’re doing with their latest styles. Versace, Gucci, and Carlo Colluci are all releasing clothing lines based on the clothes they have released in the past, with a newer and more modern twist to them.

Styling your clothes in this retro fashion has made an extremely big comeback in recent years since most big brands are striving to recreate their once glorious clothing line.

The price of these clothes can sometimes be surprising. If you have a new reproduction inspired by a retro style, since it’s most likely very modern and trendy, you can sell it at a steep price.

But boy, oh boy, if you have an original the new trendy, stylish article is based on, you have a literal gold mine on your hands. Original retro clothing can cost you a fortune, with basic t-shirts reaching up to several thousand dollars. So if you remember that ugly branded sweater you got as a gift ages ago, you might be able to sell it for a huge profit.

Bank & Vogue and Our Role in Used Clothing, Vintage and Retro

At Bank & Vogue, we’re proud to be leaders in the wholesale used clothing business, contributing to a Circular Economy by keeping clothing out of landfill and recycled into second and third lives. We also play a role in Retro, Vintage and Recycled Fashion with our sister company, Beyond Retro, a retail line in the UK and Europe. 

If you’re a buyer or seller of wholesale used clothing, purses, belts, toys or other household goods, contact us today to find out how Bank & Vogue can help. 

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