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Image / Fashion

10 investment pieces to rummage for in vintage and thrift shops

by Freya Drohan
17th Apr 2019

From Halston, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent to Cartier, Manolo Blahnik and Hermès, there are some safe second-hand investments always worth seeking.

Shoppers are usually in two camps: those who love to trawl through rails of clothes and those who really can’t cope with it. But, patience is a virtue. Vintage, second-hand and charity stores are brimming with gems lurking amidst the seemingly endless racks just waiting to reward one’s perseverance.

The amazing thing about incorporating shopping in second-hand stores into your routine is that no matter where in the world you go, you are bound to find incredible treasure troves. A vintage or thrift store is a fashion lover’s equivalent of stocking up on postcards and fridge magnets, if you will. Heading to New York? You’ll find a century’s worth of fashion from the East Village to the Upper East Side. Stopping in Los Angeles? Women of a bygone-era have bestowed their bounty all around Hollywood and Beverly Hills. From the rues of Paris to the cobbles of the Portobello Road Market, pre-loved garments that tell their own story are just waiting to be discovered in every single city.

Here are the kinds of finds that will always keep their value – and distinguish you as a vintage shopping pro. After all, there’s a certain type of smugness when responding to a compliment with, “Oh.. this? Thanks, it’s vintage.”


Let’s start with the most obvious. Particularly in the wake of Karl Lagerfeld’s passing, 1990s-era Chanel has seen an even more lucrative surge in popularity. Brooches, tweed suits and dresses and the double flap handbags in caviar or lambskin leather, as well as the iconic 2.55 and the Boy Bag will generally always retain their value.

“The interest in Chanel is going to go up, but Chanel is always the brand,” a spokeswoman for consignment retailer DoubleTake recently told WWD. “We talked about what happens in terms of value, and we don’t see it going down.”

Burberry Trench

On a similar pedestal, the pervasive Burberry trench is considered a classic for a reason. This timeless wardrobe staple retails from €700-€7,000, depending on the material. Second-hand versions can be found lurking in the unlikeliest of places, so keep it on your radar. If you snap one up for a bargain and change your mind about it, rest easy knowing you can make up to €1,000 back if you re-sell it online.

Alexander McQueen

The late fashion innovator certainly gifted the world with groundbreaking (both wearable and some less so) concepts. Accessories like skull print scarves, hard shell clutches and knuckle duster rings, along with expertly tailored blazers and dresses will continue to fetch a pretty penny. Should you stumble across a pair of the iconic Armadillo boots, run to the checkout as fast as you can – Lady Gaga once paid €261,000 for three pairs of them.



Also known as the designer du jour during the Studio 54 era. Keep your eyes peeled, specifically in US vintage stores, for the label with its signature all-capital letters font (not Halston Heritage, the current iteration of the brand). Who knows, that slinky jumpsuit you just snapped up might have rubbed shoulders with Bianca Jagger herself.

Gucci, Fendi

I am bundling these two together due to the fact that both represent a certain strain of Italian luxury that never seems to go out of fashion. Look for pieces brandishing either the logo or the respective houses signature prints.

Yves Saint Laurent

Let this sink in: some of YSL’s pieces from the 1970s have fetched as much as €40,000 at auction. Designs from pre-Hedi Slimane’s time (i.e. when the ‘Yves’ was still intact in the label) are sure to keep their lustre and collectability.


It’s funny to think that clothes and handbags from as recently as two years ago can be considered vintage scores, but keep an eye out for anything designed under Phoebe Philo’s ‘golden years’ (2008-2018) at the brand. It will garner a good price amongst the so-called Philophiles who worshipped the creative director.


The famous Love bracelet – which starts at over €5,ooo for the diamond-less version – has stood the test of time since its induction in 1969. While it is permanently fastened onto the wearer’s wrist by way of the included screwdriver, it’s not that unusual to see pre-loved versions in consignment stores. As long as you don’t mind wearing what was someone else’s “love” around your wrist, it’s a timeless find. If you too fall out of love, sell it on for upwards of a few thousand on eBay. Note: ensure the bangle has a serial number to confirm it’s legit.

Manolo Blahnik

Specifically, anything from the Hangisi range of heels, mules and flats, which you will be slow to find for less than €600 online. If memory serves me correctly, in Sex and the City 2, Carrie tells Louise from St. Louis that her embellished blue would-be-wedding shoes cost $595. Seeing as they now retail for $995, just nine years after the movie, that’s some pretty good fashion inflation.


Granted, just coming across a vintage Birkin or Kelly bag in your local charity shop might be a bit of a long shot – but you never know. A find like this from the 160-year-old house is on par with a classic Chanel. Consider it your get out of jail free card should you ever need it, as some vintage variations are worth a staggering €28,000.


Related articles:

  • The impressive, Irish innovators leading the way in sustainable fashion…here
  • Five simple ways we can all shop more ethically, and build better wardrobes…here
  • Calling all fashion-lovers: These are eight documentaries you need to see…here

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