You probably know the phrase, “they don’t make them like that any more” and in the case of vintage luxury goods, that’s often the case. Craftsmanship and exclusivity are just two of the advantages when buying antique or vintage goods, however it can be hard to sort the wheat from the chaff. So I’ve put together a guide to buying vintage designer goods, in association with Xupes, the pre-owned luxury goods retailer, to help you find and purchase the objects of your dreams.
Xupes was founded in 2009 and has over 7,000 items in stock, specializing in antiques, luxury watches, jewellery and handbags. They can source products on your behalf or sell your items on commission or part exchange. They also have some handy services, such as handbag and jewellery servicing, as well as an in-house watchmaker who offers repairs and servicing.
Why buy vintage?
Before our throw-away society, goods were made to last – the concept of built-in obsolescence, where products are deliberately designed with a limited shelf-life, just didn’t exist. Another advantage is of owning an item as unique as you are, since goods used to be produced in much smaller quantities than nowadays. Of course there’s also the environmental aspect of recycling, it certainly makes me feel good to give new life to old objects. The price of pre-owned goods is generally much more reasonable, for example Xupes offers up to 70% off the recommended retail price so you’re sure of getting a bargain. Perhaps the biggest advantage of buying vintage though, is the history associated with each object. Pre-owned is most definitely pre-loved and it’s nice to give these items a new lease of life.
What’s the difference between antique and vintage?
Items that are over 100 years old are generally considered to be antiques, in both the U.K. and the U.S. Interestingly, U.S. Customs consider that for an item to be classed as antique, it must be less than 50% restored and have kept its original character. Nevertheless, more recent items may be equally prized, and these days objects from as recently as the 1980s can be considered vintage.
Buying a vintage investment
Antiques and vintage goods can be a great investment, although they may have their ups and downs. It’s important to fully research beforehand and to only buy what you actually like. You might wish to concentrate on a particular brand or decade, building up your expertise over time. At any rate, it’s important to find a trustworthy dealer and to invest in quality items. If these have a use of some sort in addition to decorative appeal, then they’re generally a good bet. Make sure to comparison shop online and in store, checking the price of an identical or similar item so that you know that you’re getting the best possible deal.
Buying antiques and art
Buying vintage handbags
It’s essential to do your homework, to make sure that your preferred bag is not a reproduction. The lining should look authentic and generally, a logo will be either embossed or stamped inside the bag. For example, Chanel bags have an authenticity card and hologram sticker, whilst Hermes has an “H” authenticity stamp. Zippers should be of good quality and all stitching should be straight. If in any doubt, make sure to ask the seller for further information.
Buying vintage jewellery and watches
Similarly to handbags, it’s important to fully research your intended purchase. Check whether any parts of the watch or jewellery have been replaced or whether it’s completely original. For watches, ask whether the watch has been serviced, and if that’s the case, find out why and by whom. If it’s a gold watch, there should be a gold mark, whether a stamp such as 14K, 18K, 375, 585, 750 or a hallmark. There may also be a maker’s mark on the back of the case, the dial or the crown. Look at the condition of the dial as well as the movement, and bear in mind that a slightly aged look is generally preferable to the watch having been “redialled”. Many collectors favour “tool watches”, designed for a specific purpose. For example, Rolex’s Submariner for divers and Panerai’s Radiomir for naval commandos. For vintage jewellery, store it carefully in a soft pouch and clean with a special cloth.
Where to buy vintage
How to pay for vintage goods
If you’re buying from a private individual, use a third party payment site such as PayPal. If you must pay by credit card, make sure that it has 100% fraud protection and avoid paying by bank transfer, debit card or money order. Ask to meet the seller face to face if at all possible, then check the item before paying. When buying from a dealer, insist on a money-back guarantee. Reputable companies will be happy to provide one.
I hope that you’ve found these tips on buying vintage designer goods helpful.
Are you a fan of pre-owned luxury goods and what would be your dream vintage purchase?