VINTAGE VS COSTUME - April's Caravan


I sometimes feel there is a fine line between people who buy vintage to wear as everyday clothes and costume dress. Its a difference that vintage boutique April's Caravan addresses very well, catering for everyday wardrobes and special occasion wear that includes costume.

Jeanette (pictured above centre) donated un-repairable garments to be reappropriated. Inspired by the fabrics vintage nature, and the referential nature of vintage and costume dress I looked at costume references for technological 'hacker' themes.

April's Caravan as a destination for musicians, actors and performers looking for garments that reflect a particular persona or era, was the best place for an in-store observation to understand the motivation behind purchases and the consumers of costumes.

My observations were:

  • Knowing the era of a garment is important to the promotion of each garment.
  • Association with a precedents provides a level of authenticity i.e. movie references and classic silhouettes
  • Complimentary accessories and style do as much to inform a 'look' as does a garment i.e. long white gloves, stockings, beehive hair or red lips.
  • The longevity of vintage pieces reinforces the ongoing quality and confidence in a particular garment - most garments in the store are over 30 years old!
  • Price point caters to younger audience, such as students, however does under value the rareness of each item.
  • 95% of the stock is Australian Made and features regional recognition, garments aren't just Australian Made they are Melbourne Made, they are the legacy of Australian design and the fashion manufacturing industry.
  • Classic shapes not extreme trends have greater ongoing wear i.e. straight legged men's pants, nipped at the waist dresses, scoop necks, cowboy boots and skirts to knees
  • Age of shoppers range from mid 20s to 60s, however the older customers see vintage as time capsule of something they use to own, while 26-36 year olds will buy and incorporate individual garments into their daily wardrobe. 36 year olds and older try on looks for fun and hire for costumes, often remember what 'their parents wore'.
  • Event days that encourage a community of vintage wearers, bands and performers do well to promote a lifestyle around a look, boutique and concept.