Is repro bad for vintage?
|Does it have to be original?|
That said, I'm not sure that repro isn't undermining vintage style. I worry that it makes things too easy. Instead of regularly trawling charity shops and getting to know which specialist dealers have stock that suits one's individual style, it's faster (and sometimes cheaper) to hop over to a repro company's website and buy something with a few clicks. Something that looks exactly like the thing lots of other people are wearing. Something that may not actually bear much resemblance to actual vintage, but is seen as 'vintage'. (Honestly, some of the repro out there is about as accurate as stuff from mainstream clothing ranges like Boden and Fever, who acknowledge their inspiration but make no claims to be repro.) And sooner or later enough people will be wearing that sort of thing that genuine vintage will be thought of as looking 'wrong'.
There is some extremely good authentic repro around. It's ironic that it seems less popular than the mass-market stuff! I once found a company reproducing fabrics designed by a midcentury textile designer, and gleefully showed a crafting colleague. It was bold, energetic, like nothing currently on the mass market. "I don't like that sort of vintage,"she said, and carried on looking at the modern, 'vintage' twee floral prints. The weaker end of repro does seem to appeal to the twee dabbler, and there are an awful lot of them and, I suppose I'm a horrible snob, but I resent them rewriting what vintage is simply because there are more of them than there are people wearing much actual vintage.
Of course, I'm as guilty of this as anyone. My fair isle cardigan that I'm knitting is in completely inauthentic colours. I'm sitting here typing this in a smashing dress from Collectif that I adore and that I've had loads of wear out of – and that the cardigan will go perfectly with. Both 40s-feeling, but both inauthentic in terms of colour. My accessories are the real deal, though, and perhaps that's the way to go with repro: treat it as an element, but don't let it form the entire basis of one's look. Use it to fill in the gaps, not to be the whole picture.
And the other thing that the less authentic repro could well be doing is catering to people who would otherwise be cutting up original garments. (This Old Thing makes me swear - if you don't like, say, the length of 1950s dresses, don't buy 1950s dresses, ffs, buy something shorter! Don't cut up perfectly good, ever-scarcer originals! I could have cried when a lady's treasured 1980s Laura Ashley dress - known to the family as 'Mum's Special Dress' - got hacked about and ruined.) In the long run, it could be helping preserve original vintage for people who really love it.
What do you think? Do you find yourself buying more repro than genuine vintage nowadays? Could repro be the secret saviour of authentic vintage, or is it undermining it?