Pay-By-Weight Vintage: Where do you Stand?

Hi Skint pals,

Has vintage clothing become too popular? Has the whole vintage boom gone too far? Today, I’ve paired up with some vintage clothing experts to bring you their views.

When I started getting into vintage clothing aged around 15, it was a clandestine, underground thing. It involved me ducking into charity shop doorways so my friends wouldn’t spot me doing it– these days of course, I’m out and proud. 

rise of vintage clothes

The designer vintage business deals in this sort of detail.


Indeed, these days, rightly, there’s no shame in buying secondhand – there’s nothing more fashionable, dahling. Everywhere we turn now, the word ‘vintage’ is being bandied about, often to refer just to oldish junk, or by big brands selling new, cheap clothes and branding them as ‘vintage style.’

When a shop recently opened near me, based on buying vintage by weight, I started to wonder if vintage was becoming too commodified. On the vintage-by-weight model, you load up your basket, get it weighed at the till and pay by the kilo.

 When I saw this at first, I baulked – it seemed too mass-market, a pile-em-high sell-em-cheap mentality that we’d associate more with cheap fashion stores. To me vintage is all about quality, not buying by quantity.

And, I thought, if stores make their buying choices on this basis aren’t they less likely to buy in all the lovely lightweight items like silk scarves that vintage fans love so much? Under the weight model is there more profit to be had from stocking Arran jumpers and cord trousers?

But, what do I know? And so I decided to ask three folks who make vintage their passion and their living what they feel about both the vintage boom and buy-by-weight. 

A View from the US Vintage Scene

Sammy Davis is a big force in the US vintage scene, the country where pay-by-weight is big business. Sammy’s a vintage style blogger, who believes that all modern women can incorporate vintage fashion into their contemporary lives. Here’s what she thinks of the pay by weight industry:

 “The proliferation of vintage sellers  has changed the way customers shop. Ten years ago, vintage lovers sought out collector’s pieces for their wardrobes – the Pagonne dresses, the Pucci prints, the out-of-production designers. But today, the “vintage lover” isn’t a collector. They’re simply a well-dressed girl or guy who knows how to wear vintage in a way that’s modern and sleek. Now, there’s nothing wrong with purchasing lower-quality vintage garments – I’d much rather see a garment be brought back to life than dead and rotting in a landfill.

“However, the inherent problem with “cheap vintage clothing” which is available at under-at-the-radar vintage shops, by-the-pound facilities, flea markets and wholesale warehouses – is that the public begins to believe that the once coveted, collectible garments should be cheap too. The sellers who have worked to establish a brand rooted in quality and not quantity suffer, because the general public’s perception is that their offering is “too expensive.”
“The price of a garment will always rest in how much the buyer is willing to pay for it.  I’d like to see a return to respect for the quality vintage that will continue to be worn, loved and preserved for generations to come. The vintage designer dresses and near-couture handmade garments that your mother wore as a girl, and now you are wearing, can perhaps be worn by your daughter. The 1950s dress you bought on eBay may have changed happy homes twice, but you are breathing new life into it for years to come. It’s up to us, as the consumer, to not look at vintage as “fast fashion” and equivalent to the price of a garment at Top Shop.” 

Pay-By-Weight Vintage: The Case For 

vintage clothing online

The thrill’s in the gamble – who knows what you’ll find?

Betty Swollocks, part of the Scottish Fashion Bloggers collective, gives pay-by-weight a cautious thumbs-up: ‘I believe these pay by weight stores are a good thing for the vintage loving community. There are so many unloved and unwanted clothes out there, that to be honest aren’t worth a whole bunch in the grand scheme of things, that now have the opportunity to be worn again. Personally, it isn’t my preferred way of shopping but it does encourage people to ‘make do and mend’ the items which they purchase and give them loving new homes again!’
And let’s give the final word to Greg Milne, who helped to set up the £10 thrift store in Glasgow and is just about to open a second store. We’d expect him to put forward a good case for pay-by-weight vintage, and here’s what he says:
‘ I believe that the pay-by-weight thing offers great value for money, and we make sure the quality of vintage is still very much on par with all the other vintage shops. Because we are buying so much we can get a low price, with the same logic working in favour for our customers– the feedback from people has been great, they genuinely love it as they just get so much for their cash, particularly if they are buying items such as silk shirts! They walk out with armfuls of clothes for very little cash. 
‘It also puts real fun into shopping again as things can be purchased so cheaply, people can experiment with new styles and looks they wouldn’t maybe otherwise try.’

‘Our new store, (in Finnieston, Glasgow), is going to have one floor dedicated to the kilo store and one dedicated to a designer vintage concession – We Love to Boogie – for hand edited, very select pieces so we can offer both ends of the vintage shopping spectrum.’

Maybe that’s the way to do it, Skint pals. A bit of quality designer stuff, mixed in with the thrift model. It’s how many of us dress in 2013 after all – mixing designer and thrift store finds.

What do you think pals? Do you shop pay-by-weight?? And has vintage in your opinion become too commodified? Answers on the back on a vintage powder compact please – or you could just leave them below.

Skint xxxx

Like this post? Then you might like ones these:

My best, most bargainous, vintage finds – and how much they cost

 Viva Vintage: Why secondhand is trumping the new

 Breathe new life into old clothes

  Photo credit: california pixie



About Skint in the City

Skint in the City provides stylish, practical tips and advice on how to live the high life on a shoestring budget.

5 thoughts on “Pay-By-Weight Vintage: Where do you Stand?

  1. You have to be careful here as the sizing
    isn’t consistent amongst manufacturers. With school books, notebooks, computers, video games, cell phones (not to mention snacks
    and water bottles), all having become “must have” items.
    To do this I still put a large plastic bag in my backpack and pack everything in this.

  2. Clothes being reused in any form irrespective of how they were bought or passed on has to be a good thing. As for the business model of bought by weight, it wouldn’t be my first choice bit for some it’s the only choice.

  3. I’ve never even heard of the pay-by-weight model, so I can’t say I’ve ever considered the pros and cons. I lean toward pay-by-quality!

  4. I can see both sides of this situation. Personally I will always lean toward the quality end of the spectrum. I think the seller will need to do more consumer educating to help buyers know why quality garmets cost more.

    • That’s the thing, Kitty. When vintage becomes available so cheaply, buyers might ask why they should pay more. Sellers of designer and high-end vintage need to have great reasons up their embroidered and beautifully-finished sleeves as to why quality vintage is really worth the extra cost!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>