So often I must paused and ask myself this question when I search around on the web. I know the correct answer,which is generally over 30 years. Etsy is more generous and allows shops to have things that are at least 20 years old. My heart stops and my eyes begin to burn when I see someone selling something as vintage that I can clearly remember wearing in 1992. Ok, that meets Etsy's requirement, but come on guys! It bothers me, because most shops on Etsy work really hard to be as forthcoming about their items as possible. Luckily, most are honest shopkeepers who work really hard to bring you some nice vintage pieces. It is no easy task researching items, their patterns and history. I love what I do, so that makes it easier.
Vintage though seems to meet with a slightly different classification, depending on what we are talking about. A rusted out old heap, is not vintage. It's just a heap. A tattered smock is not vintage, but rather a dust rag in the making. However, a Christian Dior 1950's gown will always be vintage and worth the restoration. In the world of haute couture, you will find things earn the label of vintage much faster. This does not hold true for the ready to wear line by the same designers. For that, it is used until it reaches a certain age and has a calling. Since the last few decades have borrowed heavily from earlier parts of the 20th century, it is difficult to imagine that what so called modern pieces we wear today will have any vintage value in the future. It's part of what makes Etsy so successful today, that people are getting back to their roots. They are appreciating the pride and workmanship that went into pieces from the past, and items made by hand that a generation forgot. That is what makes vintage, vintage. It is not just the years, but the precision, the craftmanship and the detail that went into each piece, whether it be a car or a coat.