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Ask the Fashion Pro
Q: Hi, Wendy. When buying consignment, what are your tips to ensure you get good quality and condition?
Name and Market Value
Face it – the designers who have made a name and stayed in the business over a long period of time have done so for a reason. Their quality and pricing is based on their skill, originality, quality, time and cost invested into a piece. Designers like Silver Lining, Diane Olsen, Paula Diuri, Lindsey James, and more have earned their place in horse show clothing history over time for their reputation, customer service and superior workmanship.
But savvy horse show exhibitors who are considering consignment should also pay close attention to the resale value of similar pieces, watching the market regularly. If a particular line always trends toward low resale, that speaks volumes about the quality, comfort and desirability of the piece over time.
In the same way, consignments that hold value are still priced as the true investment they are. The phrase “you get what you pay for” isn’t always true. Styles, trends and circumstances change. There are no guarantees as to what a piece may sell for down the road. There will always be motivated consignors who simply want to get a quality piece moved at a low price so they can pay a vet bill, have gone to college or other life circumstance, so monitoring the typical trends of show clothing over time helps you get a proper grasp of which pieces are holding value due to excellence.
The Garment Itself
Once you’re ready to examine show clothing in person, ask yourself the workmanship is like. Even if you’re not a seamstress, you can start to recognize the care and time that has been invested into a piece of clothing.
It doesn’t mean simple thread pulls or missing crystals don’t happen, and having to make simple repairs like reattaching embellishment or patching a seam is common and shouldn’t steer you away. What we put our clothing through simply from getting up and down from horses adds up.
Instead, look for the overall attention to how it was made. For example, did the seamstress trim the threads once finished, does the thread color match, was care taken when sewing each area, and did he/she leave allowance in the seams for future alterations? Are the zippers quality and do they zip and unzip well? It’s not a dealbreaker as zippers can wear out due to the nature of what is expected of our show clothing, but it’s easy to identify a quality zipper compared to the cheapest that can be found.
How does the clothing lay on the mannequin? A quality garment will drape more easily and adjust to being tried on more easily, if that makes sense. Struggling to make it even or straight is often an indicator of poor workmanship or simply poor care of the garment.