x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

The Insider: How to buy vintage designer

Seth Weisser, the founder of the vintage chain What Goes Around Comes Around, launches a collection of vintage Chanel pieces at Harvey Nichols, Dubai.

Seth Weisser of What Goes Around Comes Around. Antonie Robertson / The National
Seth Weisser of What Goes Around Comes Around. Antonie Robertson / The National

Seth Weisser, the founder of the vintage chain What Goes Around Comes Around - with stores in London, New York and Hollywood - is the man behind a new specialist collection of vintage Chanel pieces at Harvey Nichols, Dubai.

"The idea of bringing a vintage Chanel collection here came after a small selection of goods were brought by Harvey Nichols in the autumn of last year that gained an amazing response," he explains. "Dubai is one of the leading fashion markets but vintage does not exist. We want to offer customers unique, one-of-a-kind collectable pieces.

The exhibition has been meticulously curated by Weisser and Harvey Nichols. Having started with more than 700 bags, they edited the collection down to 100, and Weisser predicts there will be a specific demand in the region for the more collectable items. "The bags that are most pristine retain the highest demand," he says. "Red bags are very rare and popular with collectors as are some of the other more unusual colours. Also popular are the jewellery pieces with pearls and the coveted charm bracelets."

Most of us love the idea of vintage but the realisation of investing can be daunting. Weisser advises buying the best you can possibly afford, and to look carefully at the condition as it is critical to the value. Investing in the masters is always a good starting point until you become comfortable with the market. Ossie Clark, Dior and Chanel will always have a worldwide audience and provide the biggest bounty; the rule of thumb being the less that are made, the more the demand. Few designer brands can inspire such abiding loyalty as Chanel: "The quality of the skins used in the bags is incredible," Weisser says. "There is always such detail in the hardware and finishes used and the jewellery designs are truly inspiring works of art."

"As the high fashion markets have expanded, uniqueness has begun to get watered down," Weisser says. "Today a Birkin bag is common. Unless you have a discontinued colour or style, the sense of individuality - a key to high fashion - is getting lost in the global expansion. Vintage is collectable due to the scarcity and uniqueness of the pieces. With many of the pieces made for just one collection, they are quite rare and have a true collectable value.

Try to stick to the design aesthetic that is closely associated with the fashion house. A Chanel 2.55 bag, for instance, will never lose value as it is considered a classic. Know your brand inside out, and be aware that most collectors are only interested in smaller sizes. A size 14 will make considerably less than a size 8-10 will do at auction, so unless you intend to wear it always go for the smallest possible size available and try to stay clear of black or white, as collectors are always looking for the more unusual pieces.

Know how to spot alterations. Look closely at the fastenings and make sure thay are original. Key areas to check are around the collar and the cuffs where small missing or faulty fastenings can be easily hidden. If there is a belt, make sure it is attached and the belt loops are still fastened. Ensure shoulder pads are in their correct place. With bags make sure to check the lining thoroughly to ensure its original form and check the stones have not been replaced in any jewellery.

With this exhibition as a starting point, Weisser hopes to open the Middle East's awareness of the vintage market: "The US and Asia are extremely hot markets for us and we hope to expand this here. We have been travelling the world for more than 20 years with our business, and our vintage collection ranges from 1860-1990 and is a walk down fashion history's lifetime. Our hunt has unearthed so many incredible finds collections from Chanel and the hunt goes on, so we continue to come up with the most fascinating finds." the world can offer."

Five of the best online vintage boutiques

1. www.thefrock.com

A beautiful collection of high quality couture that includes Victorian, Edwardian, Flapper and Mid Century. It also houses private collections that come from the wardrobes of luminaries such as Lucille Ball, Marlene Dietrich and Sophia Loren. All arrive with a copy of a Letter of Authenticity from the consignor and a house Certificate of Authenticity.

2. www.vintageseekers.com

A wider collection of classic finds categorised under fashion, jewellery, watches, original film posters, rare books and furniture. One can find anything from a 1960s Hermès brown crocodile bag to a 1980s Valentino Linen Shift Dress or 1961 Aston Martin DB4.

3. www.ifpocketstalked.com

An easy to navigate site with a vast selection of designerwear that can be filtered by pricepoint, size and designer. There is also a special section for new items with tags for specialist collectors such as Lanvin's collection for H&M if you are looking for something in particular.

4. www.vintagecouture.com

With a designer blog shop showcasing new finds from the likes of Valentino, Chanel and Versace, and a features section that advises us how to style certain vintage products, this is a great site to browse if you are looking for inspiration.

5. www.itsvintagedarling.com

A UK based vintage online boutique that delivers a high quality selection of vintage finds from the 1900s to the 1990s of dresses, shoes, accessories and homewear and includes a blog that keeps us up to date with all things vintage worldwide.

ktrotter@thenational.ae