Photo: Angie Chen
In the first of this three part series, we tap on the experience of Angie Chen, 28, for expert advice on shopping for second-hand luxury goods. The fashion equivalent of a museum curator, Chen has been the curator of second-hand luxury resale site The Fifth Collection for four years, and "authenticates, checks the condition and weighs in on the relevance of" more than 200 second-hand and vintage pieces almost every day.
Pre-loves to Definitely Buy
- Vintage Louis Vuitton trunks, Chanel lambskin bags, and Hermes Box Kellys are some of the best pieces to collect as they age very well and always remain classics.
- Rare pieces that any brand has stopped production of so you know you have something totally unique.
- Choose leather goods with textured skin over smooth ones if you are the careless type, because textured skin doesn't get scratched as easily.
Photo: The Fifth Collection
Pre-loves with "Defects" That Can Be Saved
- Some things can be rectified with a little imagination and creativity. "For example, we received a vintage Kelly with major discolouration. We had it professionally tattooed to create a one-of-a-kind art piece (pictured above)."
- Certain tarnished metals can simply be polished with a polishing cloth so they look pristine again.
Pre-loves to Definitely Not Buy
- Anything in modern-day patent leather, because it uses a plastic-based finish to reproduce the glossy effect - to the detriment of the materials original resilience. That creates the conditions for humidity, oils and dyes to seep under the plastic finish in areas where it has been compromised by wear. This makes it hard to maintain in humid Singapore. Opt for vintage patent leather as it has excellent longevity because of its oil-based treatment.
- Anything ill-fitting - unless you have a great seamstress and are willing to spend time, energy and money to reconstruct it. Also avoid items with non-fixable tears or large stains, or which feel like they are about to disintegrate.
Photo: The Fifth Collection
Protect Yourself Online
- Always check if the company is registered by googling it. Ask questions over email or phone and expect an answer. A phone number and a deal on Whatsapp don't protect you from being cheated.
- Don't believe the hype of followers on social media and in online comments. They can be bought to trick you into thinking you are dealing with legitimate sellers.
- Don't believe a company that says its items are authenticated by the brands. It's total nonsense - especially in this part of the world. The brands don't see the second-hand market as being part of the same ecosystem - for now.
- Always read the terms and conditions or request them before making any purchase, in case the item turns out to be fake. An honest company or individual will have no problem backing up their promises with some form of guarantee. We have seen some companies offering authenticity guarantees for only seven days, and others with terms and conditions that do not cover a purchased item that turns out to be fake afterwards.
- An item's box, dust bag, authenticity card, and invoice can be easily counterfeited. Certain individuals are known to sell designer labels' boxes and paper bags, which are then used by counterfeiters to package a fake bag.
- Always pay via Paypal or credit card, because you will be protected if the transaction turns out to be fraudulent. Don't be tricked into doing a bank transfer or paying cash on delivery just for discounts.
Gianfranco Ferré for Dior | ‘Palladio’ | c. 1992 • • • The elegance and timelessness of classical architectural design moves seamlessly into the realm of fashion with Ferré’s “Palladio” gown. The ionic column is quite literally interpreted into a Grecian style gown that uses pleated silk chiffon to mimic a fluted column topped with egg-and-dart embroidered details. The volute spirals are rendered in the beautifully structured sleeves. My obsession with fashion and love of classical architecture make this one of my favorite gowns from the last 50 years. • • • #gianfrancoferre #dior #houseofdior #christiandior #weddingdress #architecture #ioniccolumns #classicalarchitecture #historicalfashion #fashion #fashiondesign #fashionhistory #historyoffashion #sailormoon #vintagefashion #vintage #defunctfashion #couture #harpersbazaar #denverartmuseum @denverartmuseum
Get Info from the Right Sources
- Don't just follow any fashion influencer; be smart about it. "I personally follow @alexanderfury. He is the editor of Another magazine and his wealth of knowledge, coupled with his take on modern fashion, makes his account one of the most unique voices in fashion today."
- I also like @defunctfashion, who focuses more on the history of fashion. His is the account to follow if you are interested in learning about textiles or a specific fashion era."
- Visit discussions on credible forums and websites to give you insights into luxury goods. "Purseforum and Bagaholicboy are two of my favourite websites for this purpose. Purseforum is a community of collectors who have been around for years. They are more than happy to share their latest purchases or insights, and other collectors also weigh in, forming a balanced discussion where the opinion is not just one-sided. The forum is not sponsored, so you know that what you are reading is not just advertising. Bagaholicboy is extremely informative and succinct, making it digestible for people who don't enjoy reading."
A version of this story first appeared in the November 2018 issue of Her World.