There are a lot of reasons to shop vintage. Along with saving a bit of money, you can also come up on things that you may not be able to find new. Hand-block printed silk ties, densely knitted cashmere sweaters, and the occasional bleeding Madras shirt. Those things have all been lost to the modern age.
The best reason, however, is that you can get something with character. Especially for certain items – such as chore coats, hunting jackets, and flannel shirts – some authentic wear-and-tear will lend you a bit of rugged credibility (even if you’re a desk jockey like me).
See our friend Peter in San Francisco (who’s not a desk jockey, but rather an electrician). Here he’s wearing a vintage Schott leather bomber from the 1960s. Originally picked up in a New York hallway hopper in 1996, it has the kind of patina and scuffing that designers sometimes try to re-create (but with results that rarely look as good as the real thing).
Granted, Pete has owned this jacket for about twenty years now, but this is the sort of thing you can find at your local thrift for pennies on the dollar. When shopping for a vintage leather, take a close look at the material. If the leather looks a bit dull and dry, you may be able to restore it with Pecard’s leather dressing. If it’s cracked or rotted, however, little can be done. Linings can also be replaced, but the job can be expensive.