It's the kind of moment you hope for when you visit an out-of-town second-hand store. I was browsing the racks of Big Red Barn Antiques in Westminster, VT., when I came face to face with a pristine pair of flare denim Gucci jeans, horse bits and leather pocket detail completely intact. The price: $35
I don't know why the human heart races when confronted with a truly spectacular deal, but there it went. Should I say something or just pay and be on my way? A size 2 by my guess, the pants wouldn't fit me. But that wasn't the point.
I brought them to the counter along with two $5 pillow covers by textile designer Patrick Frey (another unexpected find.) "The jeans are 20 percent off," she said. "Thanks for taking them. They've been here forever."
Did she really just thank me? I felt a little dirty but, well, really psyched. You didn't need to be a fashion archivist to guess that the jeans were worth a lot more than the incomprehensible $28 I paid. But how much? I decided to find out.
My initial stop was the renowned global marketplace for gorgeous things that include a considerable selection of Gucci. The appraisers there were impressed. "I think you have quite a find," said Cristina Miller, SVP of dealer relations. "These jeans are special and unique and they’re a cool find, they’re in such great condition and they’re on trend right now. They look like they are from the 1980s, but if they were new, they could be $1000 today."
Her colleague Elizabeth Stark, an account manager, pointed out that the value in this pair of pants is their relevance. “Right now we know that Gucci is pretty hot since Alessandro Michele came on and brought back the double Gs. We also look at rarity, in addition to what the design of the piece is, and how well it fits into current styles. We love vintage but it only works well if it works within people’s lives. These are in great condition for being 30 or 40 years old."
Quote: $500 and up
The Real Real
Next up was The RealReal, the luxury consignment retailer that also appears to be the number one guilty pleasure of InStyle editors. "Gucci is one of the most highly sought after designers in the secondary market right now, for both current and vintage pieces," their appraiser said. "The high-waisted and wide-leg silhouette are also very in demand. With the signature horse bit details, which we usually only see on handbags and accessories, these would have a strong secondary market value."
Quote: Around $475
Cameron Silver's Los Angeles vintage shop is synonymous with celebrity vintage style, which means lots of skinny people shop there, including people who might fit into these jeans. Silver was also taken by my find: "Think about the women who were buying Gucci ready-to-wear in the 1970s," he said. "Gucci was the Italian jet-set brand and there were only a handful of outlets to procure it. Whoever originally owned them had access most people didn't have. There was no e-commerce — and there weren't millions of pairs of these jeans either. Maybe she bought them in the Rome Gucci store, thinking she'd wear them back home but she never did."
Quote: About $650
The Back Story
After talking to Silver, I had to go back to the store and find out where they came from. Was Vermont a secret enclave of jet setters? Just... maybe. Proprietor DeAnna Robles, who bought the shop 12 years ago, told me she picked up the jeans at a church rummage sale but couldn't remember which one. "It was $10 for all the clothes I could fit into a bag," she said. "I immediately recognized the name but I'm not good with the computer so I didn't look anything up. When I put a price on it, I figured it was in a $10 bag, so if I got $35 for one pair of pants that was pretty good."
I told her what the pants had appraised for. "I never would have guessed that much, but that is awesome," she said.
Where You Can Buy Them
Thus connected with Robles, it seemed too tacky for me cash in. So why not use the windfall to help someone else? As it happened, eBay was raising money for hurricane aid through Direct Relief, a top-rated charity. So if you're interested in these Gucci jeans, you can buy them here. They're officially part of eBay's Fashion Editor Favorites, a roundup of designer merchandise being auctioned for hurricane recovery. If you get the jeans, just be sure to tag us (@instyle on Twitter and @instylemagazine on Instagram) so we can see you in your retro Gucci splendor.