Investing in Fashion
Investment dressing comes in many forms and can follow a popular trend or can be outside the fashion movements.
A Martin Margiela cashmere sweater from 1998 for Hermes, or a humming bird embroidered handbag by Alessandro Michele for Gucci. Both are fabulous and both will hold their value. In fashion it seems it’s often the weird and wonderful, limited edition, the hot item or trend of the moment, which people seek out. Yet at an auction to be held in September a simple brown wool day dress is estimated to fetch between $3,000 to $4,000. This seemingly dull dress is by Christian Dior was worn by Hollywood actress Olivia de Havilland and is coming up at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. Timothy Long, who is their director and senior specialist for its luxury accessories and couture department is a sensational expert on this subject. The auction house offers fashion from the nineteenth century through to Versace from the 2,000’s. So perhaps investment isn’t just about today’s trends but also about quality and integrity. Equally some catwalk pieces are destined never to be worn, heading straight to the great costume collections, within museums across the world.
Fortuny dresses come in at a premium but are often too fragile to even unfold. I’ve just sold vintage Comme des Garçons menswear, admittedly some of them catwalk pieces, for more than I paid for some of the them. The vintage sites, the vintage auction houses and the sales of famous wardrobes can all be monitored today. Hollywood Costume has its own Facebook group alerting members to upcoming pieces or seeking help with identifying garments, and the films they were worn in.
Buying for resale is of course a business but buying carefully, can mean investing as well.
Some designer brand names and fashion labels never lose their value. It’s obvious, for example, clearly that real, as opposed to copy or fake, Chanel is always sought after. Experts like Kerry Taylor know the shifts in the market and can tell you if at serious auction you’d do well, or you should just pop it on Ebay and hope for the best. Re sale and vintage sites proliferate, like the best known Vestiaire, but the trouble is some things cost as much or more than the new equivalent at full price. Buying might be riskier than selling? Clothes just hanging there will deteriorate and should be removed at the earliest possible opportunity. Charity shops are great for budget and mistake buys at the lower level, but if you’re spending a substantial amount of money it should return some of its value at least.
In 2019 and looking forward we want to buy less and buy better, but if it costs more and it does last, then surely we are also looking at second and third lives for the pieces?
Vintage fragrance bottles have long been collector’s items, the actual fragrance may either have evaporated or have lost its original scent but It’s about the collectible, the brand, the designer and the history and craft. Some fragrances are in their original box and packaging; adding to the value. Giant display bottles which never actually contained the fragrance are much prized and with undamaged paper labels can command huge prices.
So, collecting and curating is good, but you need knowledge and thought before you part with your cash. Some seemingly ‘normal’ classics will hold their value and some mad unique pieces will also do the same. It’s often about your personal taste and commitment. Then when you go to sell hoping that you connect to someone with the same taste.
When you buy as an investment checking the current market is important. If everything Gucci is having a moment, maybe in a year’s time someone will have replaced them in the fickle world of fashion.
In the end buying less and buying better should mean it stays in your wardrobe much longer and stand the test of time. Investment, as any broker will tell you, requires skill.
Images by Tony Glenville - Vintage The sale Christie’s YSL Deneuve