I’ve always wanted to add vintage items to my Etsy Store, because they inspire me deeply in my work. Naturally, I thought that it was time to sell some of my finds. My focus is on vintage military and workwear items from the 70’s and before. 

Vintage, 1950’s, Extremely rare, British Olive Drab, Mountaineering Smock

Learning Experience

Thrifting or what I call treasure hunting, is a great experience for any designer. Why? because you will learn to look at labels and details you wouldn’t have looked at before. I have also learned so many things about so many different brands. Finally, when it came to the military clothing, I learn everyday and it helped me to design better. I know that when I will be ready to have my advanced t-shirt line, my experience will be a gold mine of ideas! Of course, I’m still learning! And I will always be! My goal is to have a historical stock of clothing. I like to sell clothes with soul! 

My Thrifting Guide

On my first thrift, I didn’t know what to do or what to search. I had a blurry idea in my mind on what I wanted. Therefore, I went back to do some extended homework. I read magazines, looked on eBay, Etsy and watched several videos on Youtube. I did this everyday for 2 months and I still do. Everyday I learn something new. I spend a total of 2 hours a day on learning, but I do it in chunks. Thanks to this extended work, I knew what to search for and what is in demand. Thanks to the work I do for 88th Co. (graphic/artwork), I also have a pretty good military knowledge. Which is constantly helpful!

When I felt ready, I went thrifting with a clear idea of what I wanted and it made things easier. This is my mind check list:

  • When my eye catches something, follow your gut and check the piece. Never second guess.
  • Vintage pieces have a similar look (thanks to my homework, I noticed a similar style). Old labels, sturdy material, cut, color and design. 
  • Vintage clothes always have vintage looking labels and are always made in the country of the brand. For example: an L.L. Bean vintage shirt have a particular label and it’s also made in the USA. Which now days is impossible due to overseas cheap labor. Of course, there are different types of vintage labels. So, if thrifting, take out your smart phone for a quick research. There’s nothing wrong with that! 
Image from https://forums.vintagefashionguild.org 
  • In militaria clothing, labels are extremely helpful, because (thank God!) the contractors always write a date and it makes my life EASIER! 
1952 Swiss Army, Brown Messenger Leather Bag
On this Swiss Army leather bag, the marker stamped 52, for 1952.
  • I always look at zippers! There are, to me, the most important thing! Because sometimes, a label isn’t enough to date an item. However, the zipper is extremely helpful. These are the vintage zipper brands to look for: Talon, Lightning, Scovill, Gripper Zipper, Conmar, YKK, Crown and much more. With time you’ll be able to tell what looks old and what doesn’t. For example, a modern zipper doesn’t look anything like the ones from the 40’s. Anything old is heavier and has a retro design to it. Looking at the examples below, you can totally see the difference. Everything made in fast fashion today, is 100% cheaper than what was made 70 years ago.
Example of Talon Vintage Zipper
  • Buttons are like zippers! They are as important! Modern ones are also different from the ones made in the past. 
Look at the work that Cargartt button used to have.
Image from https://formfollowsfunctionjournal.tumblr.com

And this is the modern one! It’s simply different! 
  • Be Aware of fakes! I made this list after my two months of hardcore homework to avoid being robed! Fakes are everywhere! For example, if you’re into searching the rare Levi’s, be aware of the copy cats! An extensive homework is always helpful before thrifting. Again, store don’t know if what they are selling is fake or real. It’s your responsibility! Once, I was tricked, when I bought a US Navy Pea coat.  When I later did my research, I was annoyed to find that it was a copy. But yesterday, I found a real Schott Pea coat. Because, this time around I did my homework on what a real US Navy Pea Coat looked like. 

One valuable thing I learned about fake makers, is that they won’t spend as much as the real brand. So labels will be missing and other obvious things. So keep your eyes peeled! 

Images from www.thefedoralounge.com. This is a fake Pea Coat label
This is the exact same one I have found. A vintage Schott, Pea Coat. Made in the USA. 
Look at the difference! 
Image from secondsunrise.se
  • Enjoy thrifting! I have my headphones on with some funky grooves or some 1930’s songs to bring as much positive energy as possible! Yes! You heard me! Positive energy can sound corny, but if you’re angry, stressed or frustrated, don’t bother going! Just go for a cup of tea and relax! Thrifting to me, is like being Indiana Johns! I’m constantly searching for a treasure! I’m also going through tones of emotions  and traps (fakes) to finally find the HOLY GRAIL! This might sound weird, but I do sometimes feel that some stores have something waiting for me. Sometimes I’m a psychic and sometimes, I’m a total disaster! But that’s part of the game! So never give up! Something is always there waiting for you! Simply BE POSITIVE!  

I hope you have enjoyed my quick guide on how to thrift the 88th Co. way. Please understand, I’m still learning. I’m not a professional, but I hope to become one someday. If you have any advice to share, please do! And if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them too! 

Sonia 🙂

Interested in my items, check my Etsy store:

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