This article reviews consumption practices concerning vintage, a fashion style based on used or retro-style garments. Existing studies connect vintage with authenticity, nostalgia and identity. We explore how the vintage style deploys and comments on consumer culture, bypassing producers by wearing old garments to communicate ‘authentic’ identities. We argue that existing theories on consumption, fashion and subculture cannot fully explain vintage practices. Bypassing the dichotomies and one-dimensional explanations of these theories, we show that vintage, with its ambivalent relation to both subcultural distinction practices and mainstream consumer culture, serves as a prism through which to examine and understand the complexities and subtleties of 21st century consumption practices.