When it comes to making sound investments, quality will out - and nowhere is this more true than in the designer fashion market, where big names can continue to make big money, long after the clothes and accessories were first bought.
The Fabulous Designer Fashion Sale at Tennants Auctioneers today is the auction house’s first sale dedicated solely to luxury and designer fashion and accessories (fashion is usually included as part of Tennants’ Costume, Accessories and Textile sales, held four times a year).
The sale will feature a curated selection of covetable labels, with some 70 lots of women’s and men’s designer wear and accessories, all in excellent condition.
Look out for Chanel handbags, jewellery and accessories, Hermès silk scarves and boots, Chloe and Louis Vuitton bags, Vivienne Westwood and more. But a major highlight is a private gentleman’s collection of exceptional items, several of them featuring here in this special fashion shoot staged by The Yorkshire Post at Tennants’ Leyburn auction house.
Sarah White, costume and textiles specialist at Tennants, says: “He has looked after them exceptionally well, so most pieces are in fantastic condition, and he has now decided to move his collection on.”
The collection includes jackets by Tom Ford, Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada, some suits, and some shoes and leather bags by Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Fendi.
The jackets, Sarah says, are fairly small for a man (European size 44/46) but are a perfect size for many women, too.
“The top lots in the collection are a circa 2015 Hermès taupe leather Haut à Courroies 40 bag, with an estimate of £5,500-£6,500, plus buyer’s premium,” says Sarah. “Today, this familiar bag is the perfect size for an overnight bag, although historically, circa 1900, the Haut à Courroies was designed by Hermès to protect and transport saddles and riding boots.
“Also of note is a pristine 2021 Louis Vuitton Mirrored Metallic Monogram Keepall 50, from the autumn/winter 2021 men’s collection, with an estimate of £5,000-7,000, plus buyer’s premium. It was designed by Virgil Abloh for his Louis Vuitton Mirror Mirror Fall/Winter 2021 Collection, featuring an eye-catching silver metallic look. This bag was purchased barely seven weeks ago and is unused.”
High fashion pieces can be an investment, says Sarah, if you buy the right brands and look after them. “Focus on top names such as Hermès, Chanel, Gucci and Dior. “Whatever the item, high- value goods or goods at the top of their type will always hold their value. Look out for good established names, leather goods and accessories or exclusive on/off fashion pieces, all in good condition. But, as ever, be careful about where you buy your pieces - always buy from a reputable seller as there are plenty of fakes being sold online.”
The textiles auction market in general is very strong at the moment, says Sarah, with interest in costume and accessories from antique to 1960s, good early quilts, samplers, lace and Chinese robes. “We have noticed that there is a particular demand for mid-century ladies’ costume, day dresses being a particular favourite, and anything bearing a CC41 label, which denotes utility clothing made in accordance with austerity regulations in wartime and post-war Britain.”
The luxury and designer market is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the auction world, with statement fashion pieces selling for a fraction of their price when new. “The most in-demand lots come from a select few designers whose very names are synonymous with high fashion - Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Hermès,” says Sarah.
Named after the actress Jane Birkin, the legendary Hermès Birkin Bag is probably the most sought-after item in fashion history. “It’s the ultimate status symbol,” says Sarah, adding: “So in demand is the Birkin that there is not even a waiting list for new bags. Buyers must make contact with Hermès stores and boutiques, and hope that they will be among the chosen to be contacted when a precious few bags become available.
“It is little wonder then that the secondary market for Birkin Bags is thriving, with a spike in demand recently seen during the first lockdown in 2020. Rare bags can fetch tens of thousands of pounds, and in 2017, Christies sold a limited-edition example for a record £293,000.”
However, more common examples in good condition start at auction at around £1,000, while Hermès scarves in original boxes can be found for £100 to £200.
“Condition is all important,” says Sarah. “Make sure you either view in person, or reputable auction houses will be happy to provide you with a condition report and extra images. Look out for lots in their original boxes or bags and, once you have secured your dream lot, keep it safely and it might just prove a good investment for the future.”
* The Fabulous Designer Fashion Sale is at Tennants Auctioneers in Leyburn today, Friday, November 12, at 9.30am, with viewing from 8am. See Tennants.co.uk for details of online bidding.