Debunking 10 of the Most Used Terms when Vintage Shopping Online

Since the great retail exodus of 2020, when our beloved high streets closed their doors and lowered their shutters, we all retreated to the internet for, well, almost everything.

Zoom gave us dinner dates, quiz nights and birthday parties.

Netflix gave us entertainment and cinema nights.

Instagram gave us socialising and meeting new people.

JustEat gave us nights off cooking.

And retail moved, for a short time, completely online - from ecommerce giants like Amazon to your local high street, the only way to indulge in a little retail therapy was now via the world wide web.

Shopping online is cool and all, but for us vintage lovers and pre-loved magpies, it soon got tiring. With vintage sellers in their masses flocking to Depop, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Vinted and Story Sales on Instagram, we now needed the patience of working out search terms, guessing sizing, and trawling through hundreds of useless listings. 

But this wasn't the biggest stress. The biggest stress was all these new terms that we didn't understand. And because we didn't understand them, we didn't really know what we were parting with our hard earned bucks for. Unlike the joy of shopping in person when you can check it out thoroughly, there was suddenly all these words we didn't understand...

...and those words could hold the secret to some of the best vintage finds of your life. 

What the hell is "Deadstock"?

Deadstock is often a term you see on brand new, unworn items - and the clues literally in the name. Deadstock is simply referring to items that are old, unsold stock, usually sourced from retailers and old warehouses by resellers.

You can get all kinds of amazing deadstock fabrics, trainers and more, but deadstock vintage is something to get really excited about. Unworn, brand new vintage clothes are next to extinct - so by using this term in your searches, you sometimes happen upon some really incredible vintage finds.

Abbreviations you need to know!

  • "BNWT" - Brand New With Tags
  • "BNWOT" - Brand New Without Tags
  • "BNIB" - Brand New In Box
  • "VGC" - Very Good Condition

Grade A and B, they're not at school.

Typically, vintage wholesalers, sellers and sourcers tend to "grade" vintage when selling it. This is so they can bulk sell pieces without having to individually list items and their condition.

Grade A Vintage typically means good to perfect condition. It might have minor wear or slight fading (which you expect with many older pieces) but you won't get any holes, serious stains or damage.

On the other hand, Grade B or C Vintage is vintage that has more wear, stains or snags and holes. It's certainly still wearable, and often damage is fixable which makes it a great bargain find -  but don't expect it to come without any flaws!

How true is "True Vintage"?

The answer is: Pretty damn true.

The term "True Vintage" is often used on eBay to differentiate the difference between modern replica items with a 'Vintage Style' and actual authentic vintage. Of course, some sellers have cottoned on to this fact and now add in "True Vintage" to their listing titled even if it isn't to get more search hits, but it's certainly a good one to look out for either way!

Always remember - an item becomes "vintage" when it's 25 years or older, so don't get sucked in by terminology. When in doubt of an items age or authenticity, do some online research or ask a local vintage expert for their help.

Pre-loved - aren't we all...?

Pre-loved simply means second hand and already worn. It's a nicer way of saying it's good condition secondhand, and it sounds way cuter than "old", ya feel me?


I didn't include this on the abbreviations as I thought it was important to give it a little more of an explanation. In plain, online, Depop speak, Y2K means Year 2000 - yep, millenium bug style. 

Now, the reason I wanted to explain was - technically, authentic Y2K items aren't truly vintage yet, but they are hugely popular with the Gen Z crowd, and if you're a seller, it's great stock to get your mits on. However, it's often low priced as it's still pretty easy to get hold of in your local thrift and charity shops, so if it's your kind of style and you want to cop that trend, don't get ripped off by a cash grabber on Depop.


Is there any weird terms you've come across when you're shopping for vintage clothing online that you'd like debunked? Let me know in the comments, and I'll do what I can to debunk those mythical and mysterious search terms!

Debunking 10 of the Most Used Terms when Vintage Shopping Online
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