Fashion Investment Piece, What’s That?

An investment piece is a fashion item we buy not just because we love it, but because we think it will last for years and likely hold in value. But with fast fashion flooding the high street, is putting money into a few luxury pieces still a good investment?

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Did you know? Marilyn Monroe paid US$12,000 for the twinkling Jean Louis gown she wore to purr “Happy Birthday, Mr President” to John F. Kennedy in 1962. Fast-forward to 2016, and that iconic dress sold for a whopping US$4.8 million.

According to Stephanie Crispin, founder of, where shoppers can buy and sell luxury fashion items, the answer is yes. “The Chanel Medium Classic Flap Bag’s price more or less tripled in the past 30 years,” she says. She advises potential investors to snap up “the luxury brand trilogy” of Hermès, Chanel and Louis Vuitton when it comes to clothes. For watches and jewellery, the list of brands is much longer.

Besides the brand, the value of a piece also depends on the item type. Handbags, for example, keep their value better than shoes, because “people are less inclined to buy shoes that have been worn by someone else.”

Better than fast fashion?

Stephanie also believes buying good quality pieces is a good investment not just for your wardrobe but also your wallet. “I strongly urge my friends to buy less and better. Thinking you’ll save money in the long run by buying fast fashion pieces is a misconception. Quality luxury pieces, consciously bought, can last a lifetime,” she says. But we take quality to mean well-made which, as fashion insiders Diet Prada pointed out, can be from chain stores.

For those who want to try out investment pieces without committing huge sums of money, the Internet has – once again – come to the rescue. Singapore-based startup Style Theory lets users rent clothes and handbags using an AirBnB-style sharing economy model. Raena Lim co-founded the company after taking stock of her own wardrobe: “One day, I realised that 80 percent of my clothes hadn’t been touched in the past year. To me, that was foolish, especially coming from a finance background – that’s like all my failed investments.”

This prompted her to start the clothes rental service. “The rise of the fashion subscription economy has given people the freedom and flexibility to consume fashion on their own terms,” says Raena. “Access to an infinite wardrobe allows women to explore styles like never before and make smarter decisions on the pieces they really want to own and invest in.”

Pre-loved is still loved

Stephanie says that pre-loved clothes are becoming increasingly popular among millennials, who want to prioritise spending on things like travel. Luxury fashion items by established designer names retain their value, and so give people the flexibility to cash in on the pre-loved resale market when they need to.

“Today, we usually want to use an item a certain number of times… then let it go,” she says. “The possibility of re-selling has thus accelerated the way we consume luxury goods, making it possible to shop, love and sell at a very quick pace.”

5 brands that are investments


It’s all about that Birkin. High demand and low supply means you’ll always be able to resell these beauties, which go for around US$10,000, brand new.


The 2.55 handbag has a strong resale value and even stronger story: its chain straps were inspired by the caretakers’ keys at the orphanage where Coco Chanel grew up.

Louis Vuitton

Snap up the iconic Louis Vuitton Speedy. The brand’s first handbag can resell for up to three times its retail value.


A favourite of Princess Diana, the Lady Dior bag with its quilted stitching has become an enduring resale item.


After debuting in 2011, the Celine box bag became a modern classic.

Images Text Louise Tam.