Vintage Designer Fashion with Adaptation Labels

As an aficionado of vintage fashion, it can be a minefield establishing if you have fallen for a genuine item or a counterfeit. If you desire a genuine vintage Chanel evening dress it just isn’t the same if you discover the dress you covet is a Chanel copy with a fake label sewn in.

However, between the world of genuine haute couture vintage pieces and scam knock-offs, there are vintage fashion items with original adaption labels which are a real find if you are lucky enough to come across them.

When the first haute couture fashion houses were founded in Paris they established a reputation for creating individual pieces tailored to the client. Of course their fabulous designs were tempting to counterfeiters. In the days before ready-to-wear became a mass market reality, the fashion houses pre-empted possible financial losses of their designs being ripped off, by choosing to license adaptations which had the right to bear adaptation labels. They would sell the rights for their designs to be reproduced by European and American businesses that would re-create or adapt the styles for a more mass market customer base.

Bergdorf Goodman, the luxury Manhattan department store, was one American business that bought licences to recreate haute couture fashion and sell the styles with adaptation labels showing the pieces were genuinely licensed copies of the original design. Clothes sold by Bergdorf Goodman with adaption labels were the precursor of today’s ready-to-wear lines launched by the fashion houses themselves.

Clothes sold with adaptation labels could be either adaptations of the original designs or faithful reproductions of the originals. The fashion houses licensing their clothes would be assured their name was linked to quality pieces rather than shoddy copies. Naturally the clothes brandishing adaptation labels were appealing to customers who wanted to be up-to-date with the latest designer fashions but couldn’t afford the exclusive price tags. The pieces carried the prestige without the hefty prices. Often an adaptation label would bear the words ‘authorized reproduction.’

This genuine Chanel adaptation label simply reads Adaptation Chanel Paris, while this Mad Carpentier adaptation label includes the name of the American ready-to-wear producer Puritan.  In addition, it states that it is an authorized reproduction of Mad Carpentier. Other couture houses which licensed adaptations include Molyneux, Pierre Balmain, Bruyere and Lanvin.

Today you may discover an original vintage dress bearing an adaptation label and be confident it is a quality reproduction. You can browse for such pieces in boutiques specializing in vintage clothing or find them online.

This 1930s vintage Chanel dress is an example of a designer reproduction dress with an adaptation label.

The dress is styled in multi-colored floral silk organza with a floral adorned navy organza sash. In the 1920s Chanel began embellishing silk organza with floral appliques and this vintage dress is a fine example of the technique. In addition to licensing the rights to the design Chanel would also provide the fabric, enabling the licensee to create a truly authentic reproduction. The dress showcases the original adaptation label.

Best Places to Buy Vintage Clothing Online

Online vintage clothing stores have expanded the shopping horizons of those who love vintage style. Flea markets and niche boutiques can turn up some wonderful finds, but online stores provide even more choice, particularly if a shopper favors a particular decade or a certain designer. Vintage clothing offers the chance to wear unique pieces steeped in history. It is often whimsical, in addition to being excellent value and eco-friendly. To unleash your inner style icon browse the one-of-a-kind pieces in these online vintage clothing stores.

Rusty Zipper

From Rusty Zipper.

Rusty Zipper carries a comprehensive range of vintage clothing and accessories for both men and women. Collections include women’s dresses, suits, sweaters and swimwear, and men’s shirts, pants and ties. Women’s dresses are divided into eras ranging from the 1940s to the 1980s, with decade collections featuring 1950s shirt-waisters and 1980s power dressing shoulder pads.  There are retro prom dresses to take you back in time and psychedelic minis from the 1960s. Styles range from ethnic and hippie, to secretary, prairie and hourglass wiggle. Rusty Zipper accessories include retro sunglasses, scarves, gloves and hats.

Unique Vintage

From Unique Vintage.

Unique Vintage is a goldmine of retro fashion, stocking clothing from the 1920s through to the 1970s. They have glorious vintage prom dresses, vintage flapper dresses, retro swimwear and an excellent selection of plus size clothing.  This online store also specializes in vintage inspired clothing to mix and match with the genuine items. Their wedding selection includes dresses for the bride and bridesmaids, shoes, accessories and guest attire for vintage themed weddings.


For those with a taste for vintage designer clothing Farfetch features the top names from the world of couture fashion. You can shop for vintage Chanel and Jean Paul Gaultier, Versace and Yves Saint Laurent. You can discover unique vintage clothing designed by Thierry Mugler, Giorgio Armani, Pierre Cardin and Hermes. You can snap up an original designer bag to accessorize vintage suits and dresses. The vintage lines stocked by Farfetch are iconic and coveted, and won’t break the bank.

Wear it Well Vintage

This American vintage store specializes in handpicked items of women’s clothing, accessories and home decor. The store continuously updates stock so it is worth checking often to see if the style that entrances you is represented. Amongst the stock at Wear it Well Vintage, you can find retro trench coats, dresses, jumpsuits, blouses and swimwear from across the decades. The store also sells vintage bags, accessories and jewelry.

Designer Vintage

A Roberto Cavalli dress from Designer Vintage.

Designer Vintage is an online platform for a range of boutiques specializing in vintage designer clothing. All items are checked for authenticity before being promoted. Here you will find designer bags by Chanel and Louis Vuitton, clothes by Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana, and shoes by Saint Laurent and Valentino.

Guermantes Vintage

Aficionados of the 1920s to 1940s will appreciate the rare and unusual antique clothing collected by Guermantes Vintage. There are original flapper dresses from the 1920s, fabulous 1920s reversible coats and wedding dresses created in the 1930s. This online boutique is a must for vintage fans on the lookout for rare pieces.