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1980s Clothing

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 13 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss

Clothing memorabilia prices in general seem to go down decade by decade. Following the peak of the 1960s, especially Beatles clothing, the decades after seem to offer very little. The splintering of musical styles meant that the 1980s had few truly iconic pop stars – only Madonna and Michael Jackson really stand out.

Yet even their clothing items don’t fetch the prices of those1960s items. There simply isn’t the demand to push the prices higher, even for those two. That might seem surprising, given their status, but the closer to the present, the lower the prices, with a few exceptions.

What to Buy

There hasn’t been that much on the market. Indeed, the items that most symbolise the artists – Jackson’s sparkling glove and Madonna’s conical bra – have been sold at auction (they fetched £7,500 and £14,000, respectively). Beyond that, it’s very limited – a Jackson hat, clothing Madonna wore in a movie or a bustier, for instance, will appear at auction.

Obviously, there’s no shortage of clothing from these two, as they’ve both employed elaborate stage costumes over the years. But they’ve been savvy enough not to sell them. In Jackson’s case, though, there might prove to be a flood of clothing in the future. A storage unit of memorabilia, including clothing items, was sold off for non-payment of fees. The items were eventually sold to a European, who now has possession of them, and might choose to auction them off or sell to dealers.

Meanwhile, if items come up – genuine items that can be authenticated – they’re worth bidding on. They’ll almost certainly appear at auction, but you should be able to obtain most lots for prices in the low thousands. They should represent good long-term investments, as prices will eventually rise quite high, although you might have to hang on to them for a while.

Other Artists

Of course, there were plenty of other bands and artists who were popular during the decade. Are clothing items from them worth collecting?

In the present climate, the answer has to be a conditional no. Few 1980s artists inspire investors, and for those that do (Springsteen, for example) you’re simply not going to find any items of clothing. How things will change over the next decade remains to be seen, but you’d be taking a risk in buying items from most artists, even if you could find them.

The only exception is Queen – or, more particularly, Freddie Mercury. A few items of his clothing have reached the market, and although the prices are still quite reasonable (in the upper hundreds), those are almost certain to rise, and possibly go sky high in time.

Beyond that, clothing will probably only interest collectors. Clothes from metal artists, for example, are unlikely to ever claim high prices, but fans would treasure them (a reported Ozzy garage sale in 2007 could net the faithful some choice items).

For the most part, it’s case of think before you spend your money. You’re unlikely to become rich from 80s clothing memorabilia. In most cases, the better option is to leave it to the fans.

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