“…the ability for something to continue forever”Sir David Attenborough – definition of sustainability.
There are many great reasons to buy vintage, not least supporting local retailers & industry. In this post we’ll delve into the top five reasons we at FiF believe so strongly in vintage items.
Producing goods to last was simply an expectation of the times.
Without a long-lasting quality to your products, you were pretty quickly out of business. The same cannot be said of modern products that seem to focus more on ‘built in obsolescence’.
Take for instance an Airest armchair from the early sixties. The mahogany &/or teak used in these chairs you just couldn’t find today. The construction is done with an eye for detail & with the intention of the chair providing comfort for generations.
Design items & Object d’art were created with quality as a fundamental. Their appeal & value often determined by the material used.
The same can be said for 1970s home audio & photographic equipment. Top brands of the day took huge pride in their products. In some cases, products were as much about bettering the competition as they were about selling to the public.
Products were created to such a high standard in both build quality & materials used. Any brand attempting that quality & detail today would cost the earth (some do & good on them!).
Add to that – many vintage items are infinitesimally repairable.
This is why we believe vintage item quality is a ‘cut above’ what we buy in major chain stores today. Actually, we believe they make what is on offer today look downright cheap.
Materials used in vintage items are vastly different from what is often used today. Solid naturally grown hardwoods, thick full leathers, natural fiber coverings, wools, brass, copper, aluminum & steel.
Materials are the single most important point as to why vintage products are so superior to mainstream products of today. They are the most tangible reason your soul recognises quality when you come into contact with them.
It is possible to source fantastic quality items manufactured today, but first you need to find them & in the current NZ marketplace – that’s not too easy. If you do find a high-quality item, then you’ll need to pay for it & when you are looking at real quality – of course, that comes at a price.
It’s true – nothing looks as good as the original. Everything else is just a copy and will remain a copy.
Materials also play a major role in what we see as style. If the wood is cheap, hormone grown pine, & the steel is actually plastic – any real style is immediately lost.
Vintage items can & in many cases will increase in value as they continue to age and become harder to obtain.
- A mid-century Fler lounge suite in great condition or restored well will increase in value year upon year.
- A Dual turntable sells for a great deal more today that when it was first sold.
- A Crown Lynn tea set has gone from a basic household use item to something now proudly displayed on a collector’s shelf.
That just can’t be said of replica products or modern disposable goods – no matter what the purchase price is.
Here’s the big reason really – the point we must all consider is our personal consumption.
Whenever a human makes something – pollution & waste are by-products. Doesn’t matter how carefully you go about manufacture or how many green stars your company has obtained.
That’s not to say vintage items were manufactured using more sustainable methods – they weren’t. However, although the products did once draw upon resources, they are already created and reusing these items means that cycle of extortion is broken.
It makes absolute sense to get more from these already used resources, & with fabulous vintage items that re-use can even enhance our living environments too.
Think of it this way – there are enough chairs in Aotearoa-NZ for all our living rooms – we do not need to import more – we already have enough.
If NZ imported 50% less lounge chairs for five years that would have an impact on forestry exploitation and limit growth of the fast furniture industry. If that thinking was extended to the entire developed world, that could very possibly limit the explosion of the fast furniture industry to a more sustainable level.
The same can be said for many items we consume en-masse, including homewares, gifts, lighting, electronics, & maybe most of all, fashion.
“The truth is: The natural world is changing. And we are totally dependent on that world. It provides our food, water and air. It is the most precious thing we have and we need to defend it”Sir David Attenborough
However – Just because an item is vintage does not guarantee it will last & last. The important trick with vintage is to buy from a reputable retailer/restorer.
Someone who knows the right items to pick up & the items to avoid in the first place, the correct methods of test & repair, the correct method of restoration. Like Function in Form.
We are excited when we find items, appreciative whilst we restore items, and enthused when the final product emerges.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
If you are interested in some more information around what happens to our mountains of waste every year – please search out these YouTube videos: Nb. these are not links – you’ll need to search on them on YouTube.
- The stuff project – ‘The story of plastic: Where your recycled plastic ends up’
- Vanessa Kanbi – ‘The worlds biggest e-waste site’