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in vintage fashion
Fans of vintage fashion will remember the moment it came out of the charity shop and onto the front pages: when Julia Roberts collected her Oscar for Erin Brockovich in 2001 in a stunning black and white Valentino gown.
Now celebrities wear vintage both on and off the red carpet, designers seek inspiration from their own archives, shoppers hunt for bargains – and ‘vintage' has become a true fashion trend.
There's another advantage for the financially savvy: buying vintage can be a good investment while giving you something unique to wear.Jo-ann
Vintage fashion specialist
and editor of www.vintagebrighton.com.
What is vintage?
Vintage generally refers to clothes dating from the 1920s to the 1980s, although many argue that the ‘grunge' fashions of the 1990s should also be classified as such.
Decades come in and out of fashion: a recent comeback has been the glitz and glam of the Roaring Twenties. “Movies and television play a major role in popularising a certain period”, Mary Jane Enros from online resource the Vintage Fashion Guild (VFG) explains. ITV's hit period drama Downton Abbey has boosted demand for early 20th century fashions and Baz Luhrmann's remake of The Great Gatsby – which opened at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2013 – is likely to further reignite interest in the era.
Yet these are both relatively new revivals compared to styles that are popular as originals and have inspired contemporary collections – the 1940s tea dress, 1950s circle-skirt and 1960s shift.
Judy Berger, who founded
Judy's Affordable Vintage Fair in 2005, credits high fashion with helping to champion the styles of the past. “The 1960s has been a key look on the runways – from spring/summer Moschino through to PPQ's autumn/winter collection.”
So if you would like to invest in
vintage fashion, where should
1. Look for bargains
Scour car boot sales, charity shops and jumble sales for bargains. “eBay is another good place to pick up designer pieces”, says Louise Whitehead, organiser of
The Vintage Fair. “You need to be cautious that you're buying the real deal, however, so check buyer feedback and reputation.”
2. Choose your labels
The mass-produced fashions of the 1950s and 1960s, such as Biba, Mary Quant, Celia Birtwell and Ossie Clark offer an affordable alternative to high-end designer collectibles and are currently in high demand.
3. Check condition
Look for original pieces in good condition – check for moth damage, stains and alterations that could affect resale value.
4. Provenance is key
Designer pieces will of course cost more – but they will be better investments. “A YSL couture Mondrian dress was bought from me for £2,000 in the 1990s and I recently resold it for the owner for £28,000”, recalls Kerry Taylor of Kerry Taylor Auctions. “And a Chanel lace dress from around 1927 bought recently in a vintage fair sold for £23,000.”
5. Protect items you are selling
Protect much-loved pieces by setting reserve prices whether selling via online or offline auctions – and agree a price in writing if working with dealers on a ‘sale or return' basis.Designer
6. Do your research
If you're interested in starting a specialist collection, pick up a book from the Miller's Antiques and Collectibles reference series. Research labels on the internet and consult The Vintage Fashion Guild's online resources covering labels, fabric, fur and lingerie.
7. Collect with care
A carefully curated collection, one stand-out piece evocative of a certain fashion epoch or a single item displaying exceptional craftsmanship will all be good investments. “I love the notion of a solid vintage handbag collection”, Judy Berger, organiser of Judy's Affordable Vintage Fair, enthuses. “They are easy to store, you never grow out of them and you could be holding onto something that is increasing in value each year.”“I love the
notion of a
collection”Vintage handbag from
Lovely's Vintage Emporium
8. Think seasonally
Whatever you decide to sell, think seasonally. That 1950s sundress is unlikely to achieve its true value in the depths of winter.
9. Learn how to sell
Selling at auction and to dealers will secure your items a spot in front of the right audience, but both will take a slice of your profit. eBay allows you to cut out the middle man but can be more hit and miss, with little guarantee that your item will be seen by people who appreciate its value.
10. Shop your wardrobe
Before you head out to spend your hard-earned cash, take a look in your own wardrobe – you may be surprised to discover the new value of long-forgotten pieces and hand-me-downs.Whatever
to sell, think seasonally
Biba became one of the most trendsetting London labels of the 1960s and early '70s. The trademark has been relaunched without founder Barbara Hulanicki's input several times since it was sold off in 1975. Her early pieces – easy to spot, as they don't carry care instructions – offer true investment opportunities.A Biba zig-zag tapestry weave jersey trouser suit, circa 1973, sold for £1,700 in February 2013.A Mary Quant Ginger Group striped cotton
late-1960s trouser suit sold for £300 in February 2013.
Mary Quant introduced iconic Mod fashions to London during the Swinging Sixties. Like Biba, the label has been through many reincarnations. Earlier pieces carry ‘Mary Quant London' and ‘Mary Quant's Ginger Group' labels.
OSSIE CLARK AND CELIA BIRTWELL
This was one of the most celebrated fashion partnerships of the 20th century; Celia Birtwell prints adorning Ossie Clark maxi dresses are some of the most collectible items from the 1960s. Look for Radley and Quorum labels.An Ossie Clark/ Celia Birtwell ‘Ziggy Stardust' printed chiffon dress from the early 1970s sold for £2,500 in December 2012.
Offering fashion fans the chance to buy off-the-peg dresses worn by celebrities and royalty at affordable prices, Horrockses was a household name during the 1940s and '50s. Cotton day dresses and cocktail dresses remain wearable and collectible today.A printed Horrockses cotton ‘Coronation' dress from 1953 sold for £460 in April 2012.
Where to go
THE VINTAGE FAIR
Travelling fair bringing together vintage traders in your local area with those from further afield. Ossie Clark originals spotted at a recent Shoreditch event.
THE VINTAGE FASHION GUILD
Online vintage fashion resource offering directories and forums to help users determine the age and provenance of vintage items.
JUDY'S AFFORDABLE VINTAGE FAIR
Travelling vintage fair hosting vintage fashion, homewares and ‘buy by the kilo' events across the country. www.judysvintagefair.co.uk
Online buy-and-sell site which lists thousands of vintage lots by hobby sellers and professional dealers.
Online buy-and-sell site with items available through independent ‘shops' run by individual sellers or branded boutiques.
LOVELY'S VINTAGE EMPORIUM
Online vintage boutique that regularly stocks designer vintage labels, including Chanel, Gucci, Dior and Courréges.
KERRY TAYLOR AUCTIONS
Auction house in London specialising in vintage, collectible and designer fashion.
OXFAM ONLINE VINTAGE SHOP
Oxfam's online vintage fashion and homewares shop.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author,
and do not necessarily reflect the views of M&S Bank.
The value of the vintage fashion items can fall as well as rise, which means that if the object(s) were to be sold, you could get back less than you paid for them. Please note that the value of vintage fashion items is a matter of a valuer's opinion, rather than a matter of fact. In some circumstances it may be difficult to sell the vintage fashion items.