How To Make Money From Your Wardrobe. Yes, Even Yours

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  • Having spent years working in venture capital before founding pre-owned luxury fashion website Covetique in 2011, it seems fair to say that Nicola McClafferty has a good eye for investment pieces. Here she tells us why your closet is your most underrated asset, and how you can make money from it...

    Treat Your Wardrobe Like A Business Portfolio…

    ‘A lot of women don’t think of their wardrobe as an asset, but for most it’s actually more valuable than their car – and you’d always think about reselling your car, wouldn’t you? We’ve been talking about a smarter attitude to fashion for a while now at Covetique, and realising what assets you could sell from your ‘portfolio’, and when, is a huge part of that.’

    There’s Potential In Everyone’s. Even Yours…
    ‘A wardrobe can be worth tens of thousands, particularly if its been accumulated over a long time. Our sellers do tend to be urban women with high incomes who spend a lot on fashion (maybe a couple of thousand a month on Net-a-Porter) but that’s not to say that other people don’t have a lot of value sitting in their closets too. If you asked any woman to break down the contents of her wardrobe – shoes, bags, sunglasses, winter coats, nice dresses bought for weddings – you’ll probably end up with a number that’s a lot higher than you’d first thought.’

    Look Out For Hot Trends…

    ‘There are three types of item to be sold at any one time – trend-led pieces, forever classics and then super-luxuries, the special things. You need to think about which category each of your items falls into and the timelines associated – it’s called fast fashion for a reason!’

    ‘Burberry’s checks always sell very well, but when they showed those cashmere capes at their [AW14] show, we were suddenly seeing their scarves, throws and wraps go for much higher prices. A new trend brings something like that to the top of people’s minds and people start looking for similar items, so it’s good time to think about whether you want to sell yours, if you’ve got one. Timing is everything with these trends – capes are everywhere now, but you may want to wear yours again while it’s back in. 6 months later would be fine to sell still, but in 18 months time the price will have dropped again.’

    (Image: Burberry AW14)

    Take Care Of Your Clothes…

    ‘It sounds really obvious, but store your clothes carefully – their condition directly impacts their value. My top tips are to hang on to the receipts and tags, keep things in their original boxes and dust covers, and if you’ve got a lovely leather handbag, make sure you stuff it to keep its shape intact.’

    Keep Up With The Industry…
    ‘Mary Katrantzou has changed her design direction in the last few seasons [from digital print to embroidery] and while her loud prints are still reselling well, I wonder how much they will be worth in a year’s time. It could go one of two ways; either they will become her early iconic pieces and fall into the special investments category, or they will be seen as older pieces that don’t represent who she is as a designer now and the value will fall. That sort of change in perception is very important to the re-sell value, so do look out for things like designer moves and departures [from big fashion houses].’

    (Image: Mary Katrantzou SS14)

    Forever Classics Will Always Sell
    ‘Some things will always sell – timing isn’t an issue. Key designers’ signature pieces – Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses, Isabel Marant jackets, Joseph cashmere jumpers, Vivienne Westwood’s draped dresses – you can instantly tell they are theirs. It’s always interesting to see what things are becoming new classics too. Markus Lupfer’s sequin knits, for example, always sell very fast.’

    What To Buy Now, And Bank On Later

    ‘Don’t be afraid of investing in a really high quality pieces, especially good winter coats, this season. Leather or shearling jackets – these are trends now, but let’s face it, they’re on trend again every winter. The hottest labels are probably really obvious – Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Celine, Acne, Givenchy….’

    Have Realistic £££ Expectations…
    ‘At we work on a commission model, so it’s in our interest to price it as high as we can. But as experts, we have to realistically assess the condition of the item before we can predict how much it may make. If it’s a basic dress that you’ve worn loads you may get 20% of the cost back, but if it’s a leather bag kept in good condition, you might get 80%.’

    And Reinvesting Your Profits Is Totally Fine
    People’s motivations for selling can vary – sometimes it’s to clear space before moving house, or to save up for a holiday, but often it’s just to put towards next season’s designer handbag. With classics it’s often the case that people just got bored of a colour or print – you bought a purple knit last season, but now the designer’s done it in navy. Sell the purple, buy the navy – trade. Once you understand what styles or brands return the most money, it starts to influence how you shop for new things. Smart reinvestment is good, you certainly feel less guilty!

    Nicola McClafferty is the founder of pre-owned luxury fashion website

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