WITH fashionistas flocking into the capital for the start of London Fashion Week today, shopaholics might be itching to join the festivities and splash out on designer wares.
It might sound unlikely, but there are certainly worse ways to make an investment. According to research by Mintel, Brits spent £46.2bn on clothing and adornments in 2009 – £753 per head. But does it make sense to keep spending in small increments on reasonably priced – but often shoddily made or short-lasting – garments?
Instead, consumers could consider laying out more cash for something that will last and appreciate in value. Claire Stansfield is one of the owners of Notting Hill vintage clothing boutique Relik Vintage. She says that for something of high quality, she is always marking clothes up, not down. “I’ve never known anything to depreciate.” Vintage expert Kerry Taylor told Which? magazine that an Yves Saint Laurent dress bought for £1,200 in the 1980s can now sell for £20,000.
But Stansfield can count on her stock going up in value because she knows what to look for. She says that buying top quality brands is key: Chanel, Bieber, Gaultier, Ossie Clark and early Vivienne Westwood are all good labels to target. And, most importantly, make sure they still have their label: “The label is absolutely essential. If someone just tells you it’s an Ossie Clark it can get lost in translation. That little piece of fabric is as valuable as the entire design and structure of the garment.”
The other key factor is the condition of the clothing. Buyers might be surprised to learn that they can both wear a piece of vintage designer wear and benefit from price appreciation – as long as they’re careful. Always have top-quality clothing dry-cleaned after it is worn and put it in proper storage – sealed bags or boxes to avoid moth damage. For long-term storage, fold rather than hang the item to avoid straining the fabric unnecessarily. Shoes are very difficult to keep in mint condition after being worn, so you might have to choose between wearing them and keeping them for sale later on.
Other accessories are more durable, however: buying belts, handbags, jewellery and briefcases can be a good way to enjoy your vintage garments without treading on eggshells.
Vintage fashion is not going to fund your retirement, but buying top quality can be a good way to clothe yourself while buying an asset that will keep its value. Which is a good way to justify splashing out on something that looks snazzy.