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Australian creatives on their investment pieces worth the money (and those that weren’t)

WORDS BY CAIT EMMA BURKE

What makes for a good investment?

What makes an investment piece worth all that scrimping and saving? For me, and others I know who are conscious of cost per wear, making sure the item is something that will fit seamlessly into your wardrobe is important.

And if it’s an item that would be at home in your current wardrobe, you can probably assume it will be worn time and time again – another factor I consider when laying down some serious money on a purchase.


Discover the best local designers in our Fashion section. 


I’m currently saving for a pair of Marni Fussbett sandals for precisely these reasons: they work with my current array of clothes and, being simple and black, will be worn to death (and then probably resoled). But not everyone approaches investment purchases with the same thinking.

I have a friend who would rather invest in something breathtakingly bold, like a brightly coloured Dior Saddle Bag or a vibrant Molly Goddard dress, than a pair of plain sandals. Eager to know how other creatives approach their investment purchases, I asked five to show me their favourite, and talk me through the investments they regret.

Chloe Naughton, Fashion Programmer for Melbourne Fashion Festival

Classic and effortless style with a focus on the essentials is what I try to aim for with my investment pieces. One that was well worth the money, although I probably haven’t had it for long enough to calculate my cost per wear yet, is my Celine Medium 16 handbag – absolutely worth the money. It’s not my everyday handbag – my Marni Trunk handbag is my everyday bag and that has paid for itself 10 times over. My Celine bag is worn whenever my Marni isn’t.

They both feel really purposeful in my wardrobe. What has made both such a worthwhile investment is their incredible quality and ability to adapt to so many occasions and outfits. Some purchases that haven’t been a worthwhile investment (for me) are pieces that are too bold, colourful or trend-based pieces that I haven’t been able to fit into the rest of my wardrobe as easily. They tend to hide in my wardrobe and only come out every so often, so for me, that’s not a worthwhile investment piece.

@chloejnaughton

Ines English, actor, writer and model

The best investment purchase I’ve made was a 1970s green suede coat I found while on a vintage shopping mission in New York City. I bought it for around $400, which may not seem like a huge fork out, but for a twenty-year-old creative renting a windowless, shoe-box room in Brooklyn, $400 was far too much. Truth be told, I bought it for my mum, but I think a dark, sinister part of me knew it just might not fit her.

I wear it every winter, at least once a week. I’m bad at math, but I believe that almost puts it on the loose change menu when it comes to cost per wear. Its colour and shape are timeless. No buttons have come off, no stitches have unravelled… they just don’t make them like they used to.

My worst investment purchase was a pair of boots from a smallish designer brand. I’d wanted them for six months and I got them for a hefty discount at $500 (I knew someone who worked at an Australian retailer that stocked them). The first night I wore them, it took 20 metres of uncontrollably wobbly walking and eventually falling over to realise I wasn’t drunk after one wine, but that my boot’s cute-but-psycho kitten heel had snapped.

The shop assistant said I had to post them back to the brand in Europe to exchange them (which can’t be true, but I have a thing about kicking up a stink as I worked in service for years), and a cobbler said we don’t have the correct machines to fix them in Australia. I was too scared to send them back for fear of being a ‘Karen’. Now I have a sad, broken, barely worn boot in my wardrobe. Moral of the story: if it breaks and it’s expensive, send it back! If anyone knows any Italian cobblers with rare, foreign tools, hit me up.

@inesenglishh

Sabina, writer, curator and model

I have a few investment pieces that I love, but my favourite is these lace-up Chloé sandals. They retail for about $1500, but I got them on sale (can’t remember how much I actually spent, but it was a lot more than I usually would). I bought them last year just before summer as I wanted something for warmer weather that wasn’t the typical casual sandal.

It was during the Matches Fashion sale so it was pretty impulsive and I think the discount definitely helped me make the decision! It was worth it for sure – I love them – but honestly, I have worn them three to four times as I’m pretty worried about keeping them perfect (shoes are so easy to wear out and I’ve seen that happen with other really special pairs in the past). I’m happy for them to be special occasion shoes though!

On the flip side, I don’t usually regret things I buy, but once I did purchase a gorgeous top by Ann Sophie Back, who is a Swedish designer, that turned out to be really poor quality. I think it was about $400 ( it was so long ago though that I don’t remember exactly how much, but at the time it was a lot for me). I have other items by her that are great, but this top just wasn’t the quality I expected – all of the big silver buttons kept falling off, which was really disappointing.

I still have it though. I think that taught me that quality is always more important than the price tag or the allure of something being sold to you as ‘luxury’. If it is all those things it should be made well too. Generally, in my experience, it’s safe to assume you get what you pay for, so it’s a huge shame when that turns out to not be the case.

@art_workr

Geneva Topp, textile designer

Can’t stop won’t stop wearing my Frission Knits jumper. It took me a while to decide if it was worth investing in one of these pieces but once it arrived I was in love. It’s like wearing a cloud and a warm hug rolled into one, and they’re hand-knitted in New Zealand using local mohair yarn, so the price tag is definitely justified. It looks great with a shirt and jeans or a mini and boots, but so far I haven’t found an outfit it doesn’t work with. Admittedly, the rest of the jumpers in my wardrobe haven’t had a second look in since receiving my Frission but I’m not ready to give her a break just yet.

In terms of investment pieces that weren’t worth the money, in the past, I’ve regretted spending too much money on items that are too trend based. If I’m going to buy something that’s on the pricier side, it needs to be something that’s versatile and enduring. Something I know I’ll get lots of wear out of, like my Frisson.

@pasta_disaster_69

Allie Daisy King, content creator

The best investment piece I have ever bought is this gorgeous Daniel Silfen lime green vinyl trench coat that I bought in January of 2020 for a trip to Japan (ugh remember international travel????). I spent around $300 on the coat which was a big investment at the time. I had been eyeing it since I saw it when online shopping in a uni lecture in July of 2019.

I have worn this coat most days since I bought it and it was the perfect addition to my winter wardrobe. It has weirdly become a neutral in my closet as that shade of green goes so well with every colour. It has come out to be around $0.60 per wear which is a pretty great return on investment.

My worst investment piece by far is something that has nothing to do with the item itself (I love it) but to do with circumstance. It’s a dress that I bought for my 21st birthday party that was meant to happen in July of 2020 but has been cancelled three times due to lockdowns.

Seeing as it was a special occasion I was very happy to spend good money (approx $500) on this gorgeous Wray NYC green gingham dress with matching gloves but it has been sitting in my wardrobe through all of these past lockdowns mocking me. I justified buying the dress because I assumed I would wear it in winter with turtlenecks underneath and that it would be the perfect summer dress too but alas this dress is still waiting for its debut and my bank balance is still hurting.

@alliedaisyking

For more on choosing the right investment piece, try this.

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