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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Licentiate Column 28/04/11: Shopping Irish Vintage

I have two fashion bugbears. One is the bizarre weekly columns of a certain fashion writer for a certain Irish National newspaper, which I pore over weekly like a small child examining the progress of a greenish, particularly notched scab on his knee. Each week I’m increasingly boggled by the factual inaccuracies, patronising attitudes and overdone, lazy ‘shoes-equal-life’ metaphors and Coco Chanel quotes casually executed (in the ‘death by firing squad’ sense) by this writer.

But that’s a column for a country without libel laws. That column will never exist, which is a good thing, because writing it would probably result in such a cathartic burst that I’d expire of sheer happiness on pressing the ‘send’ button.

The other bugbear is much more manageable. That bugbear is the Irish vintage market. As complicated and full of cozeners as the average Dickens scenario, as full of scammers, well-meaning innocents and true-blue fanatics as an X Factor audition and more complicated than a marathon run of Twin Peaks, your average vintage market is not to be ventured into unless you’re very well-educated or have a weight to offload in the wallet area.

In Ireland, people aren’t out to make a profit; they’re out to make a killing. The vintage sector is no different. The problem of overpricing, in my estimation, is obvious in at least half of the Irish vintage vendors.

This is due to many different factors. Vendors buy from abroad and the price of shipping has to be factored in. Vendors buy a dress that they love, but is that little bit too expensive, so the price is doubled for resale. Sometimes vendors are just total chancers and slap a fifty euro price tag on a dress bought from Oxfam or worse, a dress that is obviously from the high street and only a few seasons old, but with the tags not-so-suspiciously missing.

A good rule of thumb is, if you like it and you think it’s worth it, then buy it. If you have any doubts, walk away. In a world where ‘vintage’ has somehow become a by-word for individuality, you’d be surprised how often similar items to the one you just passed up will come along. What’s for you won’t pass by you.
But, if you’re a tight-fisted miser like me, here’s some good resources.

1) Etsy. Etsy is a worldwide vintage and handmade market. The majority of the sellers are from The US, so the dollar to euro conversion will almost definitely work in your favour. Shipping is almost never as expensive as you’d expect and a bargain is never far away if you’re willing to cyber-rummage.

2) Elsa & Gogo. This Irish vintage accessory store has a carefully chosen edit of pretty, ladylike bracelets that look like they came right from Peggy Draper’s dressing table, at very reasonable prices. Elsa & Gogo have one up on the average vintage seller; their packaging is very beautiful and ripe for the gift-giving.

3) Tabitha Vintage. This online shop can be found on Facebook and is the brainchild of bloggers Una O’Boyle and Louise Ryan of Glamrocks Luna, an Irish fashion blog that compiles the very best of style inspiration. Their clothing is superlative grunge-chic, with prices so low I almost want to rub my eyes with surprise like a cartoon character. So, there you have it. Go forth, and shop wisely.