Is Vintage Clothing Second-Hand?


The popularity of vintage clothing continues to rise as a sustainable alternative to buying new and fast fashion, but are vintage clothes second-hand? 


‘Vintage’ and ‘second-hand’ are often used interchangeably in fashion. It is true second-hand clothes can be vintage, just as vintage clothes can be second-hand. But some lucky collectors may be able to find ‘with tags’ vintage or deadstock.

What is Vintage Clothing?

 Vintage clothing refers to fashion of a certain age and is generally considered ‘old’. 


The term vintage originally came from the wine industry but has now come to mean anything of an earlier time. At Official Vintage, we believe vintage clothes are any clothes of an earlier time period with an authentic vintage flair. 


You might also notice vintage clothes referred to as ‘retro’. Retro means ‘from the past’, and we often associate this with the vibrant and quirky styles of the 70s and 80s. However, vintage sellers sometimes use retro to mean reproduction that mimics vintage style. Always do your research when searching for authentic vintage clothing. 


There’s no official way to declare an item of clothing as ‘vintage’. However, it generally refers to pieces that are older than 20 years but younger than 100 years.


Vintage clothing constantly evolves as fashion trends change, but it continues to be a popular style. Vintage resellers will find sought-after styles and list them online. You can find unique vintage finds at dedicated vintage stores, or you might find a bargain in your local op shop. 


At Official Vintage, we’re dedicated to curating a selection of high-quality and premium vintage clothes to take the guesswork out of finding genuine vintage designer pieces.

What are Second-Hand Clothes?

 Second-hand clothes are pre-loved items of clothing. Vintage clothes can be second-hand, but contemporary second-hand clothes aren’t necessarily always vintage. 


Buying second-hand clothes is a fantastic way to upgrade your wardrobe on a budget and meet the three Rs of waste: reduce, reuse and recycle. 


260,000 tonnes of fashion waste ends up in landfills every year in Australia alone. When we purchase second-hand clothes and make them a part of our everyday outfits, we’re actively reducing the amount of garment and fashion waste that ends up in landfill. 


Adding second-hand clothing to your everyday wardrobe is a sustainable and budget-savvy way to elevate or reinvent your style. Second-hand stores often stock genuine designer items at accessible prices and also reduce demand for fast fashion, which is known to endanger and exploit workers and contribute to climate change.  

The Difference Between Vintage Clothes and Second-Hand

 There are many similarities between vintage clothes and second-hand clothes. Many vintage items sold by resellers will be second-hand. These are pre-loved items of clothing, usually over 20 years old. So, what’s the difference between vintage clothes and second-hand clothes?


Sometimes – when we’re lucky – we might find a ‘brand new’ vintage item with its original tags. This is sometimes known as ‘deadstock’, a much sought-after vintage item. For whatever reason, these items were not sold from their original store and are not considered second-hand because they have not been owned or worn before. 


When shopping for second-hand clothes, you can often find genuine designer pieces at a fraction of the cost. However, not all second-hand clothing is vintage. Vintage clothing must be from an earlier time period and typically must be at least 20 years old. If the item is only a few years old, it’s still considered contemporary clothing. 

Vintage vs Second-hand: What Should I Go For?

 Once you know the differences and similarities between vintage and second-hand clothing, it’ll be much easier to find authentic vintage clothing to fit your style. Whether you want to go for vintage clothing or second-hand clothing is down to your own personal taste and style! 


When starting your vintage journey, introduce one or two classic vintage items – such as a vintage sweater or hat – and blend them with contemporary second-hand clothing for a modern twist on vintage style. 


As you become more familiar with vintage clothes and know what you’re looking for, you’ll continue to add more vintage items to your wardrobe and will begin developing a unique and timeless style with a vintage flair. 

Where Can I Buy Vintage Clothes?  

Often sellers will use specific language to flag whether an item is vintage, vintage reproduction, or second-hand. When buying vintage clothing online, learn the phrases sellers use and do specific keyword searches to find vintage treasures. 


Phrases like ‘vintage-style’ indicate a reproduction or a modern item trying to fit a vintage ‘look’ without being genuinely vintage.


Keywords such as ‘true vintage’ often indicate a genuine vintage item. Keep an eye out for ‘deadstock’ or ‘new old vintage’ to find unique, authentic vintage treasures that haven’t been worn before. 


When looking for second-hand or ‘pre-loved’ clothing, it may not always be genuinely vintage, but you may find some vintage gems when using these keywords in your searches. Some sellers may also use ‘vintage bootleg’ to indicate a dupe that may not be a genuine designer piece but is still considered vintage. 


Knowing the lingo around vintage clothing will help you refine your online searches and find that perfect vintage item. 


Ready to level up your style? At Official Vintage, we’ve curated a selection of premium and genuine vintage clothing from leading brands and designers, such as vintage Nike, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and more. Shop our full collection to begin your journey into vintage clothing.