There is something magical about seeing a vintage item you recognise from your past. It may be a toy, a poster or an item of vintage clothing or vintage jewellery. These items can bring to the surface feelings, emotions and memories long forgotten.

At Empire we are immersed in vintage treasures from our many wonderful merchants, who daily bring in new treasures for us to admire and reminisce about.

But what is it about vintage that draws so many of us to explore these items and revel in their timeless charm?

vintage blackwood furniture
1970s blackwood lounge set with original upholstery.

What is Vintage?

There is some debate about the exact definition of “vintage” when it comes to older items. Some say that items older than 20 years are vintage. Others argue 40 years is the cut-off. 

If we think about fashion, where style moves so fast, we will tend to go for the lower end, which means clothing from the early 2000s would be considered vintage. 

For other items where things don’t move so fast, camera technology for instance, 40 years may be more appropriate to be considered vintage. 

And, of course, once the item is more than 100 years old, it moves from vintage to antique.

Without being too technical about it, we prefer to think of vintage as items that possess either nostalgia (and that will vary from person to person) or a collectible quality that sets them apart from contemporary or new items.

One of our fantastic little pop-up shops featuring special vintage and upcycled pieces.

Types of vintage items

Vintage can apply to various categories of items, including:

  • Vintage Clothing and Vintage Fashion
  • Vintage Jewellery
  • Vintage Accessories
  • Vintage Furniture
  • Vintage Cameras
  • Vintage Cars
  • Vintage Art eg Vintage Posters
  • Vintage Toys
  • And more.
Highly collectable vintage toys from one of our Christmas exhibitions.

Why does Vintage Hold Allure and Appeal?

The allure of vintage differs for different people and can be anything from historical value and collectability to nostalgia and sentimentality.

Historical Value

Vintage items offer a glimpse into the past, reflecting the cultural, social, and artistic influences of a particular era. They serve as tangible artifacts that connect us to history and allow us to appreciate the craftsmanship, design trends, and cultural movements of bygone times.

Unique Style and Authenticity

Vintage items often feature distinctive designs, craftsmanship, and materials that set them apart from mass-produced modern items. They offer a sense of uniqueness and individuality, allowing people to express their personal style in a way that stands out from current trends.

Sustainability and Environmental Consciousness

Embracing vintage promotes a more sustainable approach to consumption. By giving new life to pre-owned items, we reduce waste, conserve resources, and minimize the environmental impact associated with the production of new goods. Vintage shopping aligns with the principles of recycling, reusing, and reducing.

Collectibility and Investment

Vintage items can hold significant value and appreciation over time, making them attractive to collectors and investors. Certain items, such as rare designer pieces, limited editions, or items associated with historical events, can become highly sought after and increase in value.

Nostalgia and Sentimental Value

Vintage items often evoke nostalgia, triggering sentimental feelings and memories associated with a specific time or place. They can serve as reminders of cherished moments, evoke feelings of comfort and familiarity, and spark conversations and storytelling.

Curiosity and Discovery

Exploring the world of vintage can be a fascinating journey of discovery. It offers the opportunity to unearth unique finds, hidden gems, and unexpected treasures that may not be readily available in modern retail settings. Vintage shopping provides a sense of adventure and excitement in finding something truly special.

 If you ever find yourself wishing to go on 1970s beach holiday, look no further!

What is Genuine Vintage?

Age and the debate around how old a piece has to be vintage aside, how do you ensure you are buying a genuine vintage item?

It’s not easy, especially these days when there are so many reproductions and fake or counterfeit items in the market.

There are, however a few ways you can try to protect yourself and ensure you get the genuine article.

Familiarise yourself

Familiarise yourself with the characteristics, materials, and design elements of the specific vintage items you’re interested in. Sometimes telling if a piece is fake is knowing that the material or the manufacturing process used is not right for the era

Educate yourself

Study the hallmarks, labels, and signatures associated with authentic vintage pieces. There are many resources available online and including collector’s groups and even the original manufacturer’s website eg How to Spot A Fake Louis Vuitton. Don’t forget the humble coffee table book. Vintage items are usually unique or iconic. There’s probably someone who has produced a detailed tome on the items or vintage categories you are interested in.

Examine the quality and craftsmanship

There’s a reason many vintage items are so sought after. They are often better quality and exhibit real attention to detail. Vintage items may also show natural signs of use and aging, adding to their authenticity and their charm.

Look for authentic marks and labels

Vintage items may have specific marks, labels, or (if still attached) tags that show authenticity. There may be authentic marks and labels associated with the brand, designer, or manufacturer of the vintage item you are examining. 

Examine any of these marks and labels carefully, paying attention to the finer details such as the font used, positioning, and colour variations in the label or tag.

Vintage partner’s desk and office accessories from one of our foyer displays.

Where’s the value in vintage items?

A vintage item may have a sentimental value, but there are certain items that command premium pricing due to rarity, historical significance and brand reputation, and demand. Collectors are often on the lookout for these and help keep prices elevated for genuine articles.

Some vintage items known to command high value include:

Vintage Watches

Certain vintage watches from prestigious brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Omega, known for their quality, craftsmanship, and iconic designs, can have substantial value. Limited editions, rare models, and watches with unique complications often fetch high prices among watch collectors.

Vintage Cars

Classic cars from esteemed manufacturers like Ferrari, Aston Martin, and Porsche, particularly rare or highly sought-after models, can be incredibly valuable. Factors such as originality, condition, and historical significance contribute to the high prices these vintage automobiles command.

Designer Vintage Clothing

Vintage clothing from luxury fashion houses like Chanel, Christian Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent can have significant value, especially if they are iconic pieces or part of limited collections. The rarity, condition, and historical relevance of these vintage garments influence their value among fashion collectors.

Vintage Jewellery

Fine vintage jewellery, particularly pieces crafted with high-quality gemstones and precious metals, can hold substantial value. Vintage engagement rings, diamond necklaces, and heirloom pieces from renowned jewellery brands tend to appreciate in value due to their enduring beauty and craftsmanship.

Vintage Artwork

Vintage artwork, including paintings, sculptures, posters and photography by well-known artists, can be highly valuable. They are also highly sought after to add charm and authenticity to home decoration.

Vintage Furniture

Vintage furniture pieces from notable designers or iconic periods of design, such as mid-century modern or Art Deco, can carry substantial value. Originality, condition, and reputation of the designer or manufacturer are key factors in determining the worth of vintage furniture.

foyer display of secondhand furniture
Gorgeous vintage red leather chairs and old Chesterfield paired with snippets of the contemporary.

Discover Vintage Shopping at Empire Revival and The Emporium

Vintage treasures can hold cultural, historical, and personal significance. It allows us to connect with the past, express our individuality, embrace sustainability, and appreciate the timeless beauty and craftsmanship of items from bygone eras.

Empire Revival is proud to offer a huge range of vintage items in distinct styles, materials, and from popular eras. Lose yourself exploring the many merchants and their wares under the one roof.

Plan a trip today to one of Brisbane’s best vintage shops in the heart of Paddington or head to our sister shop, The Emporium, in historic Kalbar, just an hour from Brisbane.