With Michela Zedda, creator of the site and profile Cadute di stile, we recorded an episode some time ago to tell about the passion in finding the right pieces for class slips. We meet this time to discover the differences between vintage and retrò in this new live episode of Audio-à-porter.
Hi Michela, nice to see you again! Here we are, after the previous fun episode recorded when we met in Villa Borghese. This time we are in the setting of Piazza Vittorio in Rome. There is a little bit more traffic than last time.
“I’m very happy to see you here Arianna and let’s talk about vintage together again”.
Yes, vintage, always in a very funny way, because the last time the episode of the podcast together was a success. We have enlivened someone’s evenings and we hope so again this time. Among other things, there is a small background that we will then reveal at the end we have already started well, in the sense that we have also begun to involve the people who pass here in the park!
“Not voluntarily but that’s okay!”.
Last time we talked about style falls, about clothes that have a long history, about vintage clothes. We haven’t seen each other in a while so the first thing I ask is’ How’s it going? And how is it going with Cadute di stile?
“That’s good enough. Unfortunately, with Covid, the opportunities to make markets have been very limited. The main part of the Cadute di stile business has failed a little. But I could be able to sell something through apps, especially De Pop and Vinted. So yes, it’s a bit slow but that’s okay ”.
And how is the research going? Because apart from the sale… are you able to find pieces even in times of pandemics and therefore without the markets?
“Unfortunately, the search for pieces has also slowed down a bit. The only positive thing is that I still had a fair number of items to sell that I had accumulated during that period, in which I could easily go and refuel. So I live a little of what I had accumulated in other periods “.
Luckily you had this stock, in order to be able to sell even in this period! Today we are here because I was intrigued by your last post you published on Cadute di stile blog. I have read it and I must tell you that I am among those who groped in the dark in front of the term retro and that, by dint of blunders as you say, I arrived on your blog looking for this term. Let’s shed some light on the meaning of vintage and retro.
“Yes, they often get confused, they are used distinctly with each other and vice versa. But vintage is, as we may have already said last time, everything that was produced at least 20 years ago and that to some extent has become iconic, therefore very recognizable even after some time. For example, the Nay Oleari folders from the 1980s”.
Gorgeous! I always tell you, when you get one let me know!
“Sure! Or the 90s Invicta backpacks, the ones with bright colors, let’s say. Or even the Swatch. These are examples that are also relatively close to us. So vintage is what was produced at least 20 years ago and that has an iconic quality to some extent. Instead retrò is something that has been recently produced with a line that recalls lines of past periods, styles, colors of past periods. They may be similar from the point of view of how they appear to the eye, but they are very different in the sense that they were produced in two different eras, and also in different ways to a good extent. We will go into more detail”.
So is retrò a copy of vintage? Is it a sort of ‘I would like but I can’t find what I’m looking for, so I buy something that looks like it’?
“Yes, it depends on the type of retrò. In the sense that there is a retrò specialized in reproductions that are historically also very accurate, while instead there is the back of H&M, when it brings out a collection that has lines and colors that refer to the 80s or the 90s, with particular patterns. So retrò is an atmosphere, a mood and, yes, retrò is actually as if it were a vintage that is more at hand. In the sense that you have that atmosphere that refers to a bygone era, but you don’t have the actual provenance, you don’t have the original. And you can play hard not to have the original because maybe they are pieces inspired by historical periods of which there is not much left. Because for example 20s or 30s dresses, especially in silk for example or that have sequins attached. They were much more perishable garments than in other historical periods, which preferred other fabrics or other processes. So in some cases the retrò is the only solution that one has to be able to dress with pieces that refer to that period”.
Now, because we mentioned also fast fashion, I get a straightforward question in relation to this, but are vintage clothing and accessories more expensive than retrò ones? The fact that they are used by some retailers but not only. Is vintage more expensive than retrò?
“We say yes in general, but this is also a simplification, because you can also find vintage on the market stall, at that point it is not expensive at all”.
For a few euros it will happen to you too, maybe you will find some very affordable pieces of the past!
“Yes, vice versa, for example, you were talking about swing before, those who dance swing very often dress with a whole series of garments that refer to periods such as the 40s, with shoes that have the shape similar to that of the shoes of the years 40 and also have a feature that allows you to dance. They are such a specialized product that it is very difficult to think of finding them for a few euros”.
Yes, let’s explain that the hint for swing dance is because I told you, Michela, that I did a swing dance course, now obviously interrupted also due to the pandemic. I tried it for the passion I have for vintage, for what is of the past. So I understand that there is not only fast fashion that takes the lines of the past, but there is also a whole other type of production, like the one you mentioned, of clothing accessories for example that are used for the swing. Another type of producers than large companies.
“Yes, among other things, for those who, for example, are part of some subcultures for whom it is very important to dress in a style that is faithful to that of a particular era, it may also happen that you buy vintage pieces because they resemble those that they refer to their own historical epoch. For example, those who dress with the style of the 40s. Often not finding in abundance clothes actually dating back to the 40s, they turn to those of the 80s, in which there are the so-called fantastic powersuite also for women, the jackets with very padded shoulder pads , structured”.
It makes me remind of the one I wore last time!
“The one with all the glitter!”
That’s right, this makes me think of another question I wanted to ask you. What is the profile of the person who chooses vintage? Who choeses the retrò? Now you are actually describing to me who has both: when someone perhaps chooses to have a style of a particular reference period, he tries to draw a little from one type of piece, a little from another.
Or have you identified particular profiles of people who buy both?
“You know, I think not, in the sense that it is precisely because they are very close in terms of availability and also in meaning that it is also difficult to say ‘there is someone who only dresses vintage or only dresses retrò’. They are two worlds that often meet and the problem arises when maybe a retrò piece is passed off as vintage”.
Indeed! People who are listening will be wondering ‘Why do these two find themselves one day in Rome in a square, in a park, talking about the differentiation between vintage and retrò? Mental lucubrations? Don’t know they how to spend the time?’ No, because there is actually a reason why we ask ourselves this question! Why ask the difference between the two terms? Michela let’s explain why it is important.
“Because, for example, it has often happened to me lately on the apps I use to sell and buy vintage and second-hand garments, I have often read descriptions where retrò garments were considered vintage. Where vintage simply means something that has a look of the past. So this is above all a misconception that must be dispelled. Because it may happen that you are buying a piece of H&M and maybe you pay even more for it than if you had bought it in the store, because someone called it vintage. Because it seemed plausible to you that it was vintage. I say ‘you’, but also ‘me’, in general”.
This makes me think that you have to keep your eyes open, because honestly buying something that you later discover is from H&M and instead you had the idea of buying vintage, especially if you are attentive to sustainability you get even more nervous. Because if this choice, on the other hand, is dictated by a slightly more responsible approach to buying clothes, and maybe you want to avoid having a certain brand, you think you are taking something from the past, that’s a great rip off. That’s why we’re here to talk about it.
“Then above all because it is very difficult to understand from the photos. It is one thing if you are in the shop. You can’t see all the details you need to understand where the garment comes from. If you have to rely on the photos you see then it is more difficult to understand”.
So when we talk about the vintage garment, that remains the sustainable choice. When instead we take H&M or any other fast fashion brand (because we don’t necessarily want to put this brand in a bad light), when we choose instead a piece of a retrò fast fashion collection, the choice is not so sustainable. Because we always talk about fashion.
“Of course, because we find ourselves with a garment that cost the environment a lot, it cost a lot to those who physically produced it, it will cost us a lot because we will find it in tatters after wearing it 3-4 times, so it’s not a very responsible choice”.
Does it happen that someone asks you this difference, that they turn to you just to ask you for help in understanding if something is retrò or vintage? Was the article born because requests were received or because you yourself got burned on the subject?
“Definitely the second you said, in the sense that it was I who wanted to talk about this. Because in my opinion it is a big misstep that we are always there to do”.
Yes, it is a misstep that is easy to take, it can happen to any of us to be misled. On the Cadute di stile website, in the blog, I saw that you explain in detail how to understand if a garment is vintage or retrò, since the two types of clothing can be confused. But, Michela, apart from going deeper into the article you wrote, can you give us a couple of suggestions? For example, are there any differences in the labels?
“Yes, the differences in the labels are perhaps the easiest thing to control. A vintage label carries much more fragmentary information than a contemporary label, which we know well for being a papyrus. First of all, vintage labels have fewer colors, slightly more antiquated fonts, there are usually very different sizes from the sizes that show current garments. This may already be something to look at”.
Of course it’s more difficult online as you said, because maybe you don’t see the label well in a photo, but we can ask to take a photo of the label right?
“Yes, the label is one of those elements that it is certainly very feasible to ask to be photographed. Or, for example, zips, zippers: those that have metal teeth are much more likely vintage than those of nylon, which are much more recent production, let’s say from the 1980s. Before this period they had metal teeth”.
From the photos it is always a bit difficult to be able to figure out the zip, so you should ask for more information. I generally find that it is not wrong, especially when shopping online. Then maybe in the role of a seller like you is a bit of a nuisance when people ask questions. However, it is always better before buying these pieces and perhaps finding yourself with something of the fast fashion, which you wanted instead vintage. Perhaps it is better to bother a little more.
“But I would like people to ask me things like that! Because it would mean that he/she is already aware of something that could happen!”.
I smile because in the other episode we talked about customers, you have made an article on how to defend ourself from somewhat strange customers! I smile for that (for those who haven’t listened to the other episode). Because they actually ask you a completely different kind of question!
“The most popular of which is ‘can you go down 60%?'”.
That’s a classic! 60% … really with great courage. It is not that it asks you to make a discount, but 60%! Among other things, on Cadute di stile we are not talking about prices of thousands of euros, the prices you propose are always very affordable. This makes a little bit smile
“Another thing that makes us understand very clearly that it is a retrò piece instead of a vintage piece is when there are so many different sizes and colors available. This is because the production limits that were in a previous historical period are no longer there now, in which it is very easy to produce pieces in series with different variants. This makes us understand that maybe it is a retrò piece”.
In certain eras there was still no mass production of fashion.
“And even if it started to be there, a lot of time has passed and therefore not all the pieces have reached us”.
So, if we see that for example there is the possibility to choose between more sizes, we already understand that we are facing the new retro, due to the availability that exists. But then we said before that it can also be small businesses and many seamstresses, tailors, artisans and many very small brands that make these collections with cuts from the past come to mind, we are facing a slightly more sustainable approach than fashion. We do not want to condemn retro in favor of vintage, we must always go and look at the different realities as they are. One question, however, Michela … The other time we talked about the pieces of Cadute di stile, we saw many vintage pieces that I also tried to wear, we took photos with the pieces and with Cadute di stile we always talk about slips. Because the name comes from this. But have you ever made a slip into retrò? Are there any retrò pieces also in Cadute di stile?
“Voluntarily not, but I think unconsciously there are quite a few!”.
Without wanting to, you too have fallen into the trap, as we said before, so maybe are there any?
“Yes, yes, of course, because in any case Cadute di stile is both vintage and second-hand. In the second-hand world we now find everything and the opposite of everything in terms of style, so yes, surely there are some retrò pieces”.
But it is second-hand, so we are always in the field of responsible fashion.
“We always land on our feet!”.
That’s right, we can’t go wrong with Cadute di stile!
This time I would say quietly even with the noises in the background, in short, we were able to record and carry on this episode too. Michela is there still something we want to say at the end of the episode? We will do a third part, we reveal that we will find another topic and we will do a third episode always live outside if you like.
“Okay, yes, very happy”.
So we keep company with a chat always about sustainability, telling precisely about the pieces. If there is something particular that happens to your hands we meet again, so you tell us about, and we hope to meet at a market too.
“Maybe! it would be nice”.
Outdoors maybe it would be very nice. So if you participate in the market we come to visit you and ask you a few questions about the pieces you have for sale.
“Gladly, we hope!”.
Meanwhile, thank you very much for your availability Michela!
“It’s always a pleasure, thank you!”.
You can find Cadute di stile here:
Photos: Michela Zedda