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1990s Clothing

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 25 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss

Clothing items from the Beatles, Elvis and even David Cassidy are all very collectable, some of them going for quite staggering prices at auction. Of the 1980s stars, both Madonna and Michael Jackson can sell some pieces for thousands of pounds. But what of musical stars from the 1990s? Is there any collector demand for their clothing?

In a few cases, yes. When a pair of items worn onstage by U2’s Bono appeared on eBay, there was a flurry of activity – not least from U2 themselves, who sued to stop the sale, claiming they owned the items and so they shouldn’t have been offered for sale. In a landmark decision, the court upheld their claim.

We’ve entered a new era regarding memorabilia, especially personal items like clothing. That’s not to say items don’t appear, but in general there’s a lot more control from artists and managers.

What to Buy

Some artists are more in demand than others. A Kurt Cobain sweater donated to a charity auction by his widow, Courtney Love, reportedly brought £60,000, a truly staggering figure for a modern garment (especially one that probably came from a charity shop in the first instance!).

However, that’s the exception rather than the rule. In many instances, where you do find items, they’ll have been donated to specific charity auctions, where they’re likely to raise higher prices. Still, even then it’s an indication that not many are so curious about the clothes of more modern stars. A designer gown worn by Mariah Carey, for instance, could only raise £1,000.

Dealers do obtain some items. One had three different pairs of shoes owned and worn by Mariah, selling at £800 a pair. Notably, there was very little interest in snapping them up.

Quite simply, at the moment there’s no widespread interest in such relatively modern clothing. Those U2 items would have fetched a lot of money, simply because so few items of U2 clothing hit the market and they’re one of the iconic modern bands.

Indeed, if you can find anything from them, or any of the other major rock acts, snap it up. The value will rise over the years, probably quite sharply. Of far more dubious value are items from the pop stars. The only possible exception might be one of Kylie Minogue’s stage costumes, although the likelihood of legitimately acquiring one is very small.

Where to Buy

About the only place to find musician’s clothing from the 1990s will be at charity auctions, which means, if you’re serious about bidding, you’ll need to wangle yourself an invitation to attend.

For the moment there’s little, if anything, with the big auction houses, although you can find occasional items at dealers – whether you’re willing to pay their prices or not is up to you. eBay is, in most instances, the poorest and least likely source for these items (although there will be exceptions).

Wherever you buy, you’ll need provenance in order to re-sell. For charity auctions, where the item was almost certainly donated by the star, that’s no problem. Elsewhere, before you buy, insist on provenance or authentication of some kind, or you might be stuck with something you simply can’t sell later at a profit.

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