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How to spot the next big thing? Look backwards.

With the second-hand luxury goods market pegging somewhere between $50-70 billion USD per annum, now is probably a good time to start looking at what’s going to be the next big, second-hand thing, that everyone wants.


I have some first-hand insight in to the second-hand goods market when my Dad went into care a couple of years ago, and I had to sell his extensive collections. They ranged from 1950’s memorabilia; jukeboxes, Roto-fridges and pinball machines, to pushbikes; Colnago’s, Bianchi’s and Masi’s, to motorbikes; Norton’s, Harleys and Ducati’s, to his car collection; all Fords.


(Side note, without even mentioning another stitch about him, you can already get a pretty clear he lived the life of riley).


To be able to list it all accurately to sell, I had to dig into online forums to see where the market was pegging so I could price stuff accordingly. This is where the minutiae of sub-cultures and what they’re collecting really came into focus.


On the surface, the second-hand goods market looks static. Old things go up in price and the rarer the better. But on closer inspection, that’s not quite right.


There are layered trends within every collector’s circle. History, legacy, pop-culture movements, originals pieces, reproductions, and possibly most importantly, demographics, all affect what price the hammer will fall for.


History, legacy and pop-culture are a huge factor in driving trends. Recently, relatively lesser-known brands, like Loro Piana, have been thrust forward onto the world stage because of tv shows like Succession – Kendall’s $1000 USD cashmere baseball cap is now infamous.


Then there’s the originals versus the reproductions. Bibendum Michelin Man memorabilia was easily into the four figures 20 years ago. Since then, either head office or a licensee, has been churning out retro lamps, figurines, ashtrays, etc, flooding the market and dragging the resale prices down.


Demographics though is possibly the best predictor of what’s coming next.


A perfect example is the sub-culture that surrounds the cult-classic Ford XY GT HO Phase III. It’s a blocky, unrefined, gutsy V8, production car that raced and won at Bathurst. Notably it was the world’s fastest four door sedan for decades, but only in a straight line – cornering relied on a combination of drum brakes, and desperation.


In 1971, these cars sold for around $7,000 AUD. Fast forward to the 2000’s and the price hiked upwards of $1million AUD. What drove those prices so high? In short, romance.


To generations past, the Australian car scene had one big racing series, the V8s. Fords versus Holdens, and both production cars were made in Australia. It was a time where you could literally buy what you saw on the track – it was the Australian dream of equality.  


Of course, kids watching the series couldn’t afford that car at the time. But as that generation grew up, got married, had kids and paid-off mortgages, the time (and money) came to tick off a dream – to own THAT car. The GT appeals to a very tight demographic, and within ten years, the flood of buyers to the market drove the prices sky high.


Since then, the prices for those Fords have dropped, because the next generation of car collectors aren’t as entranced by the romance of that racing period. They’ll have their sights set on what was hot when they were impressionable teenagers, and they’re already pushing up the prices of the dream cars of their youth.


Where the car-world has typically been driven by the male shoppers, the luxury goods second-hand market is being driven by a new collector – women. With the increase of pay equity and social media amplifying pop-culture, old and new, this is the era of a new second-hand shopper coming of age and they’re out to buy what was hot when they were teenagers.


Just before the proliferation of the internet exploded everywhere, magazines were The Influencers. As we sat in hair salons, waiting for our foils to bake blonde stripes down our side parts, we would flick through the page of Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar. We would lust after the prohibitively priced handbags and shoes Creative Directors exquisitely laid out before us.


Fast forward 20 years, and it’s this romantic nostalgia that’s pumping up the popularity everything 90s and 2000s. Pieces worn by The Super Models, handbags by Murakami for Vuitton, anything Alexander McQueen, and Galliano for Dior collections are all hot right now.


So, what’s next in the second-hand fashion market? Taking the three levers into consideration: history, romance and demographics, it takes us to around 2010 when celebrities like Alexa Chung, the Kardashians and Avril Lavigne were all big news. Crosshatch that with what was big in fashion: preppy-meets-hipster, skater-meets-normcore, and it probably a good time to dust off the old Diesel Skinny Jean collection and get it to Sotheby’s.



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