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From Goodwill to GrungeA History of Secondhand Styles and Alternative Economies$
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Jennifer Le Zotte

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469631905

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469631905.001.0001

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The Invention of Vintage Clothing

The Invention of Vintage Clothing

(p.122) Chapter Four The Invention of Vintage Clothing
From Goodwill to Grunge

Jennifer Le Zotte

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter recounts the process of upgrading certain older apparel, a transnational process led by the wealthy and famous, including rich collegians, titled nobility, and rock stars like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. Celebrations of affluence, elitism, individuality, and fame framed this path. The invention of "vintage" responded to a desire for visible distinction, one almost classically linked to affluence and in keeping with the 1899 thesis of economist Thorstein Veblen. For example, the 1956-7 college fad for old raccoon-fur coats from the 1920s was emblematic of a rising class of wealthy youth to whom chain department stores like Lord & Taylor eagerly appealed—and for whom the word “vintage” was first applied to clothing. Vintage exhibitionism usually disavowed political affiliations while reveling in bucking convention.

Keywords:   Vintage clothing, Collegians, Nobility, Rock stars, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Postwar affluence

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