I ask sponsors to choose their top three finds. Here are Specialist Auctions Vintage picks: 1970s Count Romi Trench Coat with Removable Fur Collar, $100.00; John Bates for Jean Veron Maxi Dress, $79.99; 1980s Rothschild for Lilli Ann Red Knit Dress, $35.00.
Specialist Auctions Vintage advertised with us for three months, and this is their second sponsored post. I based these questions on the previous interview with moderator Margaret Bolger; if you have any questions for them after this post, please leave them below for the next interview.
1. I understand, from your interview and from talking to other sellers, that sites like eBay have trouble working with vintage sellers? You wrote that with Specialist Auctions:
I feel as if I am part of a community of serious and ethical sellers, not just a mere number to be dictated to by some faceless management group with little knowledge pertaining to my area. (link)
Can you give some specific examples of problems you or sellers you know have faced from management without vintage selling experience?
I think the biggest problem has to be their total ignorance of the subject matter, resulting in good, solid, and correct auction listings being pulled and ended for often bewildering reasons. In addition to this, again due to ignorance, they allow totally inappropriate items to be listed in the categories. Just because a Gunne Sax dress has a Victorian-influence in its style does not make it a *Victorian* dress! Yet this seems to be allowed, whilst sellers will have a listing for a “Lucy dress” pulled, because Lucille Ball did not actually wear it. High street fashion is nowadays very much vintage-influenced, but no matter how “40s” that dress looks, it belongs in modern clothing.
There is also a never-ending battle over the use of keywords in an auction–something that is often abused, but oft-times necessary. In clothing it is acceptable to refer to something as “Chanel-like” or a “Twiggy dress”–these terms are in everyday use, and everyone knows what they mean–but for eBay, they are in fact keyword-spamming and so the auction would be pulled because it wasn’t a Chanel or a Twiggy item.
2. Can you give us a cost breakdown comparison of selling a vintage item on Specialist Auctions versus selling it on eBay? Take into account listing, store, and sale fees.
It is quite simple really–Specialist Auctions does not charge for listing in auction or for Stores. The only fee is a 3% charge on your final sale figure, therefore no sale, no charge. So, say I listed a vintage dress which sold at the opening price of $49.99. On Specialist Auctions, whether in auction or in a Store, the total fee would be $1.50.
On eBay, if it was an auction listing, the total fee (listing & final sales fee) would be $3.32. If it was in an eBay Store, the total fee (listing & final sales fee) would be $4.35, with a Store also having to pay minimum $15.95 per month for “rent”.
3. What can buyers do to avoid buying reproduction vintage and/or fake designer vintage? What are the warning signs, if any?
If a buyer wants a genuine vintage item, they first need to deal with a seller who is honest and trustworthy (check out their feedback and reputation). Buy from a site like Specialist Auctions, where all items are checked by the moderators for authenticity and correct dating. Be aware of things like construction details, labels, total style and design of the period, and how some design elements get repeated years later (for example, peplum waists were popular in the 1980s, not just the 1940s).
Warning signs: lack of detail and information in a listing, poor photographs or images, and lack of information regarding condition, faults, and flaws. High-end designer label items are rarely cheap, so beware that “bargain”! More importantly, ask questions first, before buying!
4. How do you distinguish between antique, vintage, and secondhand?
As a very general rule:
Antique = over 100 years old (i.e. anything before 1907)
Vintage = from 1907 to 1990
Secondhand = the above two classifications and items from 1990 onwards.
5. What resources can you recommend to buyers who want to learn more about vintage?
Go to sites like the Vintage Fashion Guild‘s where you can research your item (style and even label) and ask for advice from knowledgeable sellers. Invest in good books, which give details on period style and construction, designers, etc.
Thank you, Margaret! Remember, Specialist Auctions Vintage has one more interview coming, so if you have any questions about this or the previous interview, leave them below.