Saturday, September 04, 2010

Another Reason To Hate Free People: Fake, Obscenely Overpriced Vintage




To be perfectly blunt, we've always thought Free People was a particularly pretentious, particularly over-priced clothing chain trading in particularly horrid sweatshop-made fast fashion of the boho ilk, but now we really loathe this store.

Last month, the company rolled out a specialty 'vintage' collection available exclusively online. In addition to being scandalously over-priced, the compilation is peppered with contemporary pieces being passed off as vintage and actual vintage impressively mis-dated despite labels, content tags and other basic clues to the garments' ages. In perhaps the most egregious example (see above) of faux vintage and daft dating, the curator claims that a reproduction gentleman's shirt currently selling for $65 on the maker's website (and $228 on the Free People site) dates to the 19th century! Ooops! And there are two more such shirts available, coincidentally. Ooops again!

And perhaps we're just cranky, but $212 for what may or may not be a mid-century dress with unhemmed sleeves is bananas. (As is the fact that a customer had to ask about fabric content, label, construction and approximate era on a 60s skirt boldly priced at $212.) We appreciate that vintage dating is not a precise art, and we recognize that Free People's price point is going to be higher than other vintage shops by virtue of its higher operating costs, but this vintage collection seems, to us, to rely and prey on the fact that the average Free People shopper is not particularly educated about vintage or the marketplace within which it circulates. Though it's certainly not FP's job to mentor them, it would be nice--and more consistent with the store's hippie 'fantasy' theme--if they didn't totally exploit this knowledge gap, too.



28 comments:

D R E W said...

i see this all the time on etsy, too. i once saw somebody passing off a polaroid camera as vintage that i actually own... which i bought 10 years ago.

Alicia said...

Wow, that's just shameless. Really, really shameless. I have to agree with the above commenter, too. I see misdated, overpriced vintage of dubious quality and origin on etsy all the flippin' time. Not only does flagging not help, but sometimes these items are even featured in the etsy finds. Aaargh, it drives me nuts! Especially when those slots could be given to more reputable sellers.

A Wild Tonic said...

Ughhhhhghgh. You just ruined my day.

Heidi said...

Wow! Amazing they can get away with this. More amazing, that dress sold!

the gray bird said...

oh man, this is totally infuriating. riiiiiiiiidiculous!

Huzzah! Vintage said...

I'm much less miffed by this when I see it on Etsy because Etsy is an unjuried venue with a low (nay, non-existent) barrier to entry. Though fake vintage on Etsy is sometimes the result of premeditated malice, much more of it, I suspect, is the result of ignorance--either about a vintage piece in question or about Ety's policies. As a sexier, hipper version of Ebay, it's partly the buyer's responsibility to recognize this and vet each item of interest. On a site like Free People, though, the shopper likely expects a higher level of professionalism and may therefore purchase with more confidence than she really ought to based on the 'mistakes' pointed out here.

In other news, those prices make me angrier every time I look at them.

Bombshell Bettie said...

Wow, that is pure laziness. Sometimes I feel vintage can be overpriced...but for good quality pieces like Lilli Ann where you can see the quality and you know it will last another 50+ years.

That "20s/30s" dress really got me...I was like..uh, CLEARLY that is 40s..I just started looking more into 40s styles and it is a classic piece for the era. WTF. 268 for that...are you kidding me? its worth MAYBE 124..and I think that would be high. If it were my piece i would probably sell it for 68-74. I think we do just as much work as they do (we, being vintage sellers) we have to go out and search for this stuff, some of us use models and photographers and their prices reflect that...this is a wall of decoupaged paper with a hanger on it....are you flipping kidding me?

I can see how this would enrage you. I'm annoyed and I've only looked at their site for 5 mins...I feel sorry for the people who get suckered into buying this stuff...I would home most vintage buyers have at least a basic knowledge before they search for vintage....

this site is ludicrous..oh and their condition chart...I wont even pick up a dress in that condition!!!!

Bombshell Bettie said...

oh...and ARE YOU FLIPPING KIDDING ME?!?!?!
http://www.freepeople.com/Vintage-Hand-Knit-Sweater-Half?cm_re=100825_vintage4-_-19157478-_-19157478


this seriously makes me want to vomit..the goodwill would throw this away...and I love the condition on this! All yours for only $188!

art*deco*dame said...

excuse the potty mouth but what in the befuckery is wrong with this site?Wow,totally disgusted

The Church of Vintage said...

Please tell me I'm mistaken, but did that $212 dress actually sell? What assholes.

dear prudence vintage said...

ugh ugh ugh free people! The new items are definitely expensive but this vintage collection is ridiculous.

Some vintage clothing from designer high-end labels does command this much money and more BUT NONE of this stuff is worth it what they are asking. Their vintage pricer obviously has no idea what they are doing OR they are trying to take advantage of people who don't know enough about vintage clothing history. Either way they should be embarrassed!

BaronessVonVintage said...

this is terrible! Buyer beware for sure. This just underscores the importance of vintage buyers needing to arm themselves with as much knowledge as possible to help them avoid such scammery! Thank you for getting the word out to help this process of vintage critical thinking!

Mother Midnight Vintage said...

although i am equally disgusted, and i feel their misrepresentation egregious, i still can’t help but be pensively waiting for Free People to respond...
after all sister, the precedent you’ve set is tantamount! :)

sarah said...

Informative post, really happy to see an article like this. People are erroneously sold vintage items all the time at bumped up prices. Free People Vintage will definitely aim for sales from those misinformed on vintage - because who in their right mind would pay their premiums on the floral dress which can be found in any vintage boutique for $40 and in any thrift store for less than $10?

Once again, great post.

lisa zain @etsy said...

i think it's a little experiment to see just how much they can get away with. makes me feel kind of ill. : (

P U R P L E - D E E R said...

Idiots.

Louise said...

This is appalling, absolutely appalling.
I have noticed before some vintage retailers have tried to remove labels so they can pass off their garments as older than they are. Unlucky for them, it is pretty easy to spy where has been painstakingly picked off.
These pieces aren't even that flash anyway. Good luck to them in selling at those prices!

Amanda / Rust Belt Threads said...

Everything has already been said, but all I can think about is some waiter from Medieval Times restaurant having to wear that "gentlemen's shirt" as their uniform.

Have you seen Urban Outfitters "vintage?" It's funny. http://search.urbanoutfitters.com/?q=vintage

Karen/Small Earth Vintage said...

Free People has a store? I recall wearing their (cheaply-made and overpriced--purchased on sale by me) dresses on occasion in the 80s/90s. Didn't know they had a store.

None of this surprises me. There appears to be regular stealing of designs from Etsy by blog darlings Anthro/UO. These companies take note of what sells and they take advantage of that. Back in the day, Andy bought his home based on the money he made buying and selling vintage Nikes and Air Jordans. That's all over now: Nike took note of the bonanza and started reissuing their old shoes in "Retro" editions, basically killing the vintage market.

This is, obviously, far more egregious. After all, Nike just reissued their own product; they didn't steal anything or misrepresent the product, as Free People is clearly doing here. Yeah, it's hard to date things, but a large (?) company like Free People could certainly hire someone with a basic knowledge of vintage, you'd think--but why bother? If there's money to be made, big companies and small individual sellers alike lose all scruples.

Jessica / Lola Vintage Clothing said...

I thrifted a tank top, TANK TOP mind you by Free People with the original tags still attached, a whopping $78. I kept thinking, who in the RIGHT MIND would pay that much for this? This post explains it all.
I ♥ your posts, Gina!
Entertaining, humorous, full of the vintage pretties, AND informative.
Keep 'em coming!

Huzzah! Vintage said...

LOL @ Amanda!

Anonymous said...

Worked in retail for years and know that the Leslie Fay dress is NOT from the 20's or 30's. I'm pretty sure the company is not that old. Maybe they ment 20's/30's style. It is nowhere near worth $200.00. Either they didnt research or they hope people just don't know.

Cindy said...

I keep checking in to see if Free People responds to your post. I hope they do! I would love to know why they think it's okay to blatantly LIE to customers.

Cindy said...

btw, did anyone else notice their background is a ripoff of Capricious Traveler?

http://www.etsy.com/shop/CapriciousTraveler

Huzzah! Vintage said...

I noticed that too, Cindy! Until I saw the dating errors and prices, I thought perhaps CT was moonlighting as their vintage buyer.

Good Girls Studio said...

Infuriating to say the least ! I love that it also says the "vintage" line s not returnable!! Sheisters!

Anonymous said...

It's stark raving how free people expect people to buy their stuff. Horribly priced items that can be thrifted

Filthycoffin Frankenstein said...

Urban outfitters & anthropologie are over priced for stuff that costs nothing to make and falls apart. I love real vintage clothing because it's made to last unlike all these stores selling cheap repros of vtg items. Some people just think they have to have "brand"