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.
Smell it! The concept sounds funny, but the scent of a piece of clothing is a huge clue as to how it was cared for and stored, and whether it was kept in the trailer or kept covered inside the house. Does it smell like a horse stall or barn, or like smoke?
Likewise, while loose crystals are just part of the nature of show clothing, as glue can wear out over time, and sewn-on crystals can pull apart from the garment while riding, dismounting, and more, it’s occasionally a sign of where the garment was stored. Crystals are always going to come off no matter how well a designer has secured them, but if they are coming off by the handful, the piece may have been stored in the heat.
Genuine Swarovski crystals have a shine and weight that acrylics can never fully mimic. Acrylics are lighter weight, but also cost less, so should be taken into consideration for those on a budget. Very expensive crystals can still be found on poorly made garments. There are many less expensive, high quality crystals on the market and can often be found on high quality garments because they can be used in greater quantities while keeping the price point reasonable.
Turn It Over to the Pros
Paying attention to the market and learning the intricacies of the flooded and complicated show clothing industry is a lot of work! You can always let the pros do the job for you, and rely on a reputable show clothing company like Show Me Again.
Show Me Again consigns a wide variety of desirable pieces of show clothing at competitive and realistic prices, and their reputation at doing so precedes them with their detailed and honest descriptions, measurements and photos. Look for companies that have longevity in the business accompanied by excellent and abundant reviews with lack of drama surrounding their practices and online experiences.
Seeking out consignments from a business that specializes in it (in other words, that’s what they focus on) and one that has developed consistent and time-tested policies for returns will help assure your satisfaction in buying consignment, and it will result in you being dressed in a quality piece of show clothing that makes you feel your best.