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EVEN CASUAL fashion watchers are aware that Hermès Birkin bags and rare sneakers such as special-edition Air Force 1s go for big bucks on the resale market and auction block. But can investing in clothes be lucrative too? Matthew Eberhart, VP of marketing at resale platform Grailed, says yes—provided you “don’t get ketchup stains or rips on your clothes.” While you’ll occasionally see Birkin-level returns on items like a vintage
bomber jacket, Mr. Eberhart said most of his customers look at resale as “a conduit to an endless closet” and sell past purchases they’ve literally or stylistically outgrown in order to fund a refreshed wardrobe.
Being a smart reseller means knowing when to sell—and when not to. Sasha Skoda, head of women’s at consignment platform the
noted that party dresses are selling well. “People are wanting to get back out there, make big statements and have a lot of fun,” she said. Similarly, Sofia Bernardin, founder of luxury vintage and second-hand platform Re-See, has observed demand for slinky, 2000s-era Tom Ford and John Galliano dresses. Also worth selling right now? Vivienne Westwood corsets, vintage Jean Paul Gaultier and pretty much anything that embodies Y2K or “Euphoria” style.
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In terms of predicting what might sell, the experts we interviewed pointed to the considerable sway celebrities have (Kim Kardashian is a JPG fan, for example), but Mr. Eberhart generally adheres to the “time-capsule approach.” He believes that fashion works in 20-ish year cycles (hence the naughties style revival), “so if you’re really thinking of it from an investment perspective, [consider] what was cool 15 years ago and try and get ahead of it.”
Then there are those pieces that you should hold on to until they hit their resale-price peak. Among them: clothes by Khaite and the Row, pieces which Ms. Skoda and Mr. Eberhart suggested could become new classics; anything that Phoebe Philo, who is expected to launch her own brand in the near future, designed during her tenure at Céline; and clothes and accessories that the late Virgil Abloh designed for Louis Vuitton or his own Off-White label.
When shopping with resale in mind, avoid anything overly trendy, said Ms. Bernardin. For her part, Gill Linton, the co-founder of contemporary-vintage platform Byronesque, advises that those with an eye toward investment consider the meaning behind what they buy. “It’s not about hype,” she said. “The cultural context is really important. Did [the collection] have any meaning? Did it connect to what was happening in culture at the time? Did it change the way people dressed? Did it influence other designers?” With all that in mind, she urges that you keep any pieces that Demna, the mononymed creative director of Balenciaga, designed for Vetements or his current label. “We’re all living in Demna’s world right now,” she said, suggesting his visceral streetwear-meets-couture mashups have swayed the global aesthetic. Here, four pieces you should sell now, and four that could be worth (much) more down the line.
This New York brand boasts a quiet luxury and insider appeal, which makes Ms. Skoda of the RealReal believe it will have high resale potential in the future. Hoard special items like this dress and the label’s cashmere knit bra that went viral in 2019.
Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton Men’s
“Virgil was a magician…and he’s not going to produce anything more,” said Grailed’s Mr. Eberhart of the designer who passed away earlier this year. He predicts that anything by Abloh, like this fall 2020 Vuitton jacket, will only appreciate in value. “He’ll remain an icon for a very long time, so if you have it, hold it…but if you need some cash, you could certainly make money off it now.”
Phoebe Philo for Céline
co-founder of resale platform Vestiaire Collective, advocates hanging on to “anything old Céline…the prices are becoming more insane the [longer] we wait.” Her site has a pair of spring 2018 boots similar to these listed for around $1,700. Mr. Eberhart added that “you can certainly get a pretty penny for it now, but I think in, like, 30 years” it could be worth even more.
Mayank Hajela, the Real Real’s head of men’s, and Ms. Skoda foresee New York brand Bode being highly covetable in the years to come thanks to its strong, idiosyncratic aesthetic (epitomized by this jacket) and growing popularity. Mr. Eberhart of Grailed agrees, noting he anticipates that Bode will be “magical” over time.
Sell, Sell, Sell!
Raf Simon’s 2001 Riot Riot Riot bomber (pictured) is highly collectible, said Byronesque’s Ms. Linton. Now the co-designer of Prada, Mr. Simons launched his eponymous line in 1995, and his aughts-era pieces have proven particularly popular over the last 7 or 8 years, said Mr. Eberhart, with people paying “thousands, if not tens of thousands” of dollars for them. He’s impressed by how many years that vintage of Raf Simons has been selling well but said it’s hard to tell how much longer this surge will last.
“Chrome Hearts always goes fast,” said Ms. Moizant, adding that her teenage daughter is a fan. A favorite among celebrities ranging from Cher and Karl Lagerfeld to Rihanna since its 1988 launch, this Los Angeles brand was particularly hot in the 2000s and is thus (unsurprisingly) in high demand. These jeans boast the brand’s highly recognizable cross logo. Similar pairs are listed on Vestiaire for upwards of $5,500.
Vintage Jean Paul Gaultier
Recently worn by celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Bella Hadid, ’90s and early aughts Gaultier is in demand. “You’re seeing it on hit TV shows [like ‘Euphoria’] right now, Gen Z, TikTok, it’s everywhere,” said Ms. Skoda. “If you have Gaultier pieces that you’re not wearing, it’s peaking in resale value,” so sell it now.
When Nicolas Ghesquière was appointed to helm Balenciaga in the late ’90s, he ushered in a “seismic shift in the way women dressed,” said ReSee’s Sofia Bernardin. His enduring influence, she says, continues to drive the popularity of his early-aughts cargo pants and aviator jackets, which can sell for twice their original price.
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