Investing in modern fashion isn’t a safe bet, as “many of the great fashion houses sacrifice profits [and strong balance sheets] for prestige,” says James Longman of CNBC.
But investing in vintage couture can be worth the risk. Fashions released by well-known, talented designers—like Dior and Ossie Clark—can only become rarer over time and appreciate in value.
Similar to wine or fine art, pieces can come with a high price tag. And vintage doesn’t simply mean old; the item must also have true archival value.
Knowing what to buy and when are the biggest obstacles faced by fashion experts and investors. The best buys are pieces associated with a design or celebrity icon, or a film or event in which the piece was featured.
The dress Audrey Hepburn wore to accept her only Oscar sold for £84,000 at auction on November 30, 2011. Auction previews noted an expectation of only half that amount.
Vintage from the big names also does well. An Alexander McQueen “Joan” Jacket sold at Augusta Auctions for $15,600.
After nabbing a great piece, investors have to be particularly careful about how and when they sell it. First, clothing must be preserved and handled with great care. And when they sell, they have to time the transaction properly to gain maximum profit.
Don’t have an eye for fashion? Fear not. Buying and selling clothing isn’t the only option for interested investors. They can also invest in major, global companies.
Take the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan: in July it acquired a majority stake of Helly Hansen, a Norwegian-based outdoor clothing designer and manufacturer. In a press release, Jo Taylor, Teachers’ Private Capital vice-president, said the clothing company is iconic, with a long history and strong commitment to innovation.