13 Oct 2021

A Reflection on the Industry as it Stands

Ivan Macquisten
A Reflection on the Industry as it Stands
A Reflection on the Industry as it Stands

Who would have thought that Autumn/Winter would turn out to be the time of rebirth?

But as we welcome back exhibitors and visitors at Olympia following LAPADA’s Reset and Refresh (live) Conference, those stirrings of life usually associated with Spring have begun to penetrate even the gloomiest quarters of the art and antiques market.

Yes, we clearly face difficult times ahead, but amid the dour and dire predictions of catastrophe I detect hope. And part of that hope comes in the knowledge that the art and antiques industry is not only the ultimate survivor, but also the past master and mistress at recovery and revival.

Think about it: during the pandemic, businesses quickly reinvented themselves, with auction houses and dealers converting saleroom and gallery business online via live bidding, timed auction and virtual viewing rooms. Market place platforms like the Decorative Collective and Antiques.co.uk went into overdrive as they helped dealers connect with customers near and far. Now Ronati has added the magic ingredient of its eCommerce Manager to help them all get more beautiful items online for art and antiques buyers to choose from.

The beauty of it all is that far from replacing the best live events, including fairs like the Winter Olympia, this has instead boosted their revival too. Dealers making a healthy income from their online business still crave the human contact of a decent fair, where they can meet new clients and reconnect with established friends. This is what it’s all about, after all. If the cash is flowing online at a steady pace from day to day, then budgets will extend to standing at the best fairs, where exhibitors can ‘perform’ to the sort of live audience that helps them build their reputation and truly enjoy what they set out to do in the first place.

But that’s not all.

As The Chairish 2021 Home Furnishings Resale Report reveals, “the Resale industry is skyrocketing”. While that includes electronics and other consumer goods, a healthy slice of the anticipated $130.6 billion (by 2024) sector includes vintage and antique.

Who wouldn’t want a unique and classic item of vintage clothing or an elegant wow-factor statement piece to grace their living room? Chairish reveal that 80% of Generation Z agree and are converting to the Resale market.

“Among Millennial and Gen Z consumers, 31% report that the pandemic increased their interest in buying used, vintage, or antique furniture online,” the report also explains. And we all know that if they immerse themselves early in this world, then they will be captive for life, moving into the ‘experience’ of live events as soon as they can. The thrill of touring stands at a top class fair or raising a paddle in an auction room will never disappear.

Of course, the most powerful argument for younger generations adopting the Resale market is its environmental credentials.

While ‘Fast Furniture’ is wreaking havoc on the environment, says Chairish, “Second-hand luxury is rapidly becoming mainstream. And it is not just the lower price that attracts these true-luxury consumers,” according to Raymond James Financial, whom the report quotes. “It is often the only way they can buy scarce, limited-edition, special sold-out collaborations missed the first time, or vintage items.”

So whether Gen Z are Recycling by buying the best at events like the Winter Olympia or R-recycling online via market place platforms, they are becoming immersed in our world and I, for one, welcome them as they create the future for us.

A Reflection on the Industry as it Stands

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