When we present ourselves to the world, we choose clothes that show who we are. The choice of the clothing we wear is an intimate one, defining our days and nights. Fashion is one of the first things we think about in the morning, to ensure that we feel comfortable, protected, and confident.
As Hindman Auctions’ Director and Senior Specialist of Couture and Luxury Accessories, I have been able to dive into the past and learn more about a range of individuals’ experiences with fashion. Having worked in the field of fashion for decades, I have no shortage of intriguing anecdotes and have also seen how the market for luxury goods has rapidly developed. From contemporary fashion to vintage and antique articles of clothing, there is always something new to discover.
Fashion is not just a utilitarian commodity. Fashion is an art—a “soft sculpture”—designed to please the eye and perform a function, making it one of the most complex artistic forms. Design, engineering, science, and artistry are all required to make a garment or accessory. In addition, fashion responds to and influences societal changes, making it a powerful transversal tool to study history and the diversity of people who wear it.
Fashion choices are, therefore, of paramount importance. People with an interest in fashion span all sections of society, from museums seeking items of historical significance to collectors passionate about designers and styles to the wearers who like to be draped in beautiful and functional garments. Savvy buyers know that the auction market is a place to find unique finds. In recent years, investors are also placing their bets on the secondary market for fashion, with Forbes contributor Lela London reporting that “Designer Handbags Are Now A Better Investment Than Art.” Forbes quotes the annual review by Art Market Research, which “has been measuring price movements in the fine art market since 1976,” stating that luxury handbags “now outperform art, classic cars, and rare whiskies in terms of investment potential. Some bags, from the likes of Hermès, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton, have even experienced a valuation spike of an average of 83 percent in the last ten years. To put that into context, coins have increased by 21 percent, first-edition books by 42 percent, and watches—the assumed king of fashionable investments— by just 72 percent.”
At Hindman, we carefully select fashion items from all over the United States and present them in four annual auctions. For each item, we perform careful research to ensure authenticity, quality, and condition. This process is why our clients include first-class museums, such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. In a world that appears to encourage an eternal revival of forms and styles—think how styles come in and out of fashion over the years—garments and accessories sold at Hindman are historically significant, expanding the notion of fashionable from something ephemeral to something eternally wearable.
In addition, buying clothes with a history behind them is a choice that helps the planet by avoiding “fast fashion.” In an article by contributor Catherine Erdly, Forbes reported that the “secondhand clothing market is growing 11 times faster than traditional retail and is estimated to be worth more than double that of fast fashion, at $84 billion by 2030 (while fast fashion is projected to be worth around $40 billion at the same time).” And who doesn’t have a favorite piece of clothing they would like to wear forever? Perhaps you can find another one at auction.
If you are a collector with an interest in history or a wearer with a passion for fashion, we can advise you on what is valuable and important in your search for clothing and accessories to cherish and enjoy for a lifetime.
Hindman is excited to offer an opportunity to acquire a piece of fashion history in our September 16 Fall Fashion & Accessories auction. From an Oscar de la Renta ball gown and a Valentino dress to Gucci, Chanel, and Hermès handbags and more, we’ve got you covered.
The Couture & Luxury Accessories Department will present an online auction on September 16 with bidding beginning at 10 a.m., hindmanauctions.com/auctions/1076-fall-fashion-accessories. Bidding is available via Hindman’s Digital Bid Room, bid.hindmanauctions.com or the Hindman app. The couture and accessories will be available for preview from September 13 to 15, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, contact Timothy Long at 312-280-1212 or [email protected].