This week we've had the pleasure of speaking with visionary vintage fashion buyer and managing director of Goldsmith Vintage, Peter Goldsmith. A leading presence in the vintage clothing trade, Pete has single handedly grown Goldsmith Vintage from a small market stall on Brick Lane into a hugely successful company with three vintage shops well placed at the heart of London's liveliest fashion shopping areas, a wholesale business, a festival business, a warehouse and a press office. The firm frequently works with leading magazines such as Vogue, Marie Claire and Elle as well as national newspapers and can certainly lay claim to be one of London’s leading vintage companies. Today we're having a brief chat with him about his ideas about what makes vintage great.
GV: Hi Peter. So you've been a leading figure in this industry for some time now. What would you say constitutes 'good vintage?'
Peter: For me to turn around and say 'this constitutes good vintage' can mean a few different things, but broadly speaking, I would say it would have a different meaning for each person as it's a very personal thing. Different time periods will mean different things to different people. A certain era will have greater cultural significance to you, period significance to you, personal significance to you because of your age, or where you grew up, the music you love or who you fell in love with. Vintage can represent the things you love and so certain era's may speak to you while others don't.
GV: We LOVE that! So which era would you say makes good vintage for you personally?
Peter: I would say for me personally, good vintage means the '90s. I have an affinity with that period, I vibe with that period, it makes me happy. Also the '80s. I love the style of it, I love the expression. From an LGBTQ+ perspective, both those era’s made huge leaps forward in terms of acceptance and embracing individuality and that is really represented through fashion. So dressing vintage becomes an act of self-expression-showing the world who you want to be. The thing about vintage is that it's so personal to everyone. There can be any number of reasons that you may resonate with a specific era. The beautiful thing about vintage is it's so varied. It can encapsulate so many different styles, so many different periods, so many different opportunities. So really, ultimately good vintage is about what makes you happy as a person, I think. What resonates with you as a person, culturally and personally and financially even.
Queer culture, identifying with yourself, being the person you want to be
GV: Can you share with us some of your expert tips about how to spot genuine vintage?
Peter: Well there are various ways to answer that question...I would say that the quality of the garment, the quality of the leather, the quality of the wool etc, in itself dictates the the way you spot how true the vintage is. In 'the old days' they made clothes to last. The very fact that it is still here and looks great is in itself, amazing. Fast fashion these days means buying a garment that won't last more than a year whereas a genuine vintage garment can last for life.
A key point when checking for 'true vintage' is to check the zipper. Metal zippers will denote an older garment, i.e pre-'60s because they stopped using metal and switched to a plastic zip in the '60s and '70s. So a dress, for example, that has a metal zipper will definitely be a true vintage.
In addition, the Americans stopped manufacturing clothes in the '90s at which point production moved over to Asia. So any garment that says 'Made in the USA' on the label is going to be true vintage. Not to say that that necessarily makes it 'good' vintage but it will certainly be 'true vintage'.
GV: What, in your opinion, are the best 'vintage' brands?
Off the top of my head I would say one of our favourites here at Goldsmith Vintage would be Chanel. Such a classic! And luxury Adidas, the personification of street chic! And of course, we love Moschino!
GV: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us today!
Peter: You’re welcome!