Very few brands can impact the market quite like Jean Paul Gaultier. In fact, the designer’s archival designs have become so popular among millenials and Gen Z that the storied maison announced earlier this year that, after being out of commission for nearly a decade, it would be bringing its ready-to-wear line back.
Prior to the news, the brand posted an obscure message on Instagram back in May to signify the end of an era, sending fans of the label into a frenzy as they scrambled to get their hands on something, anything from past collections. As prices began to go up almost immediately, it was clear that resellers, too, wanted to get in on the action. According to Vestiaire Collective, as reported by WWD, searches for vintage Jean Paul Gaultier were up 570 percent from May through six months prior, while sales in the first quarter of 2021 increased by 30 percent.
The demand among shoppers is making navigating the market for vintage Gaultier even trickier. So if you’re looking to snag a few pieces now in the height of the brand’s excitement, resale revival, and its latest couture show, you’ll want to be a lot more strategic.
For Collin James and Brandon Veloria, the owners of vintage shop (and Instagram favorite) James Veloria, the process behind garnering vintage JPG starts with knowing the brand’s storied history.
“Gaultier clothing is so desirable because everything he put out was consistently well-made, unique, and innovative for its time,” they tell NYLON in an interview. “He was way ahead of his time in so many ways with inclusive sizing, playing with gender norms, and representing so many different subcultures through his clothing in really exciting ways. We can’t think of another designer who created such iconic collections year after year that were always pushing the envelope and each of those collections had so many special pieces.”
When you initially think of Gaultier, it’s likely that these super grandiose pieces come to mind. However, once shoppers do a little digging, they’ll find that there are plenty of options for everyday occasions, too. “The mesh pieces, especially, are perfect for going out and dancing,” says the duo on the overall wearability of the brand. “[While] the nylon mesh fabric is stretchy, comfortable, easy to clean, and almost indestructible.” These instantly recognizable styles have been seen on celebrities, like Bella Hadid, Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian West, to name a few, which single-handedly sparked the brand’s resurgence among the general masses.
Ready to take the plunge and invest in that trendy JPG style? Ahead, we compiled a well-curated list of tips to help ensure it’s (mostly) smooth sailing. Plus, with a brand as popular as Gaultier, there’s bound to be a fair share of counterfeits out there, so keeping a few tricks up your sleeve to prevent getting duped is a must.
How To Find Vintage Jean Paul Gaultier Tip No. 1: Know The Eras Of Gaultier
Those familiar with Jean Paul Gaultier, the brand, know that there are several defining collections with instantly recognizable prints and motifs. So it helps to know exactly what era you’re looking for. Plus, personal preference and aesthetics aside, some eras are more popular than others, which will likely be reflected in the price tag (and the quick selling rate). As for what shoppers are buying now? Customers at James Veloria are cashing out on the sexy sheer, mesh styles, in addition to the select tailoring finds.
“We can't think of a more recognizable print from JPG than the the Fall 1995 ‘Cyberbaba’ dot print in a mesh jumpsuit or top with pants,” they tell NYLON. “Also, almost any of the art body contour prints and trompe l’oeil illusions he created sell quickly, as well as anything with corseting or the iconic structured cone bra shape.”
Pieces that you’re likely to see in your favorite street-style roundups or red carpet looks are going the quickest. But true fans of the brand are looking beyond the obvious. In other words, don’t be afraid to switch it up.
How To Find Vintage Jean Paul Gaultier Tip No. 2: Secure Reliable Sources
From Depop and Etsy to Wasteland and 1stDibs, there are a plethora of reputable places to find that perfect vintage Gaultier find to add to your personal archive collection. Many marketplace sites have an authentication team solely dedicated to ensuring that the items posted by community members are the real deal, making it the ideal starting point for those just beginning their search. Once you have a short-list of places, you’ll get a feel for what each has to offer and you can make adjustments accordingly. It’s also worth noting that some sellers on sites like Tradesy post their items across several different platforms. So be sure to search their usernames on a variety of channels for additional product images, details, and more.
How To Find Vintage Jean Paul Gaultier Tip No. 3: Don’t Be Afraid Of eBay
In its heyday, eBay was the place to go for all things vintage and archival fashion. However, now with a bunch of fake garments being trafficked all over the site, it’s taken a backseat to more niche luxury resale sites. But believe it or not, there’s a very specific group of insiders putting their best Phoebe Philo-era Céline and Gucci by Tom Ford up for sale on their eBay stores. The key, however, is knowing where to look. These small-batch curators also often have a decent amount of Gaultier in their arsenal and the best part is, you won’t have to worry about overpricing for these items.
How To Find Vintage Jean Paul Gaultier Tip No. 4: Spot The Hang Tag
Every Gaultier item features a black tag with the brand’s designer logo plastered across the back. Though, it’s worth mentioning that this isn’t just any old tag — the font resembles that of a typewriter and is carefully stitched on, rather than screen-printed. “The little hang tag on the back of all of his pieces is a super easy way to identify one of his garments,” tip James and Veloria. “If it’s not there, it’s not JPG.” If you stumble upon an item that you can’t quite determine whether it’s authentic or not, this subtle indicator is one of the first things that you should be looking for.
How To Find Vintage Jean Paul Gaultier Tip No. 5: Pay Attention To Construction
With dupes becoming more accessible while shopping online, another way to see if your Gaultier piece may not be real is its overall construction. The brand is known for its precision and attention to detail, so if the seam appears to be uneven or a print isn’t properly aligned, you can safely bet that it’s a counterfeit. “The sewing and tailoring was always impeccable, especially with pieces from the main line. If something looks off or sloppily sewn it’s probably not authentic,” James and Veloria share with NYLON. This is especially apparent with couture pieces and highly-coveted mesh finds that are circulating around the internet.
How To Find Vintage Jean Paul Gaultier Tip No. 6: Pricing Too Good to Be True? It Probably Is
While you may be able to find the occasional steal here and there, when it comes to vintage Gaultier, higher prices are the norm. Of course, pieces from less recognizable collections could go for a lot less than say, something emblazoned with a monarch print. But on average, one should expect to spend a couple hundred (if not thousands) of dollars to bring home their very own JPG archive piece. If you find something for less, specifically for prints you’ve seen on someone like Bella Hadid or Kendall Jenner, you should be skeptical of its authenticity. On the flip side, be wary of sellers from retailers with no reviews, as well as reputable references pricing-out their pieces as they could also be overcompensating — this is where your personal knowledge will come in handy.
How To Find Vintage Jean Paul Gaultier Tip No. 7: When In Doubt, Hire An Authenticator
If you’re still unsure about whether the Gaultier piece you’re eyeing is a fake or the real thing, consider investing in an authenticator to do the hard work for you. These archivists are experts in their field for a reason: an unmatched eye for detail. They’ll be able to dedicate the time and effort that goes into researching the authenticity of a piece. Also, businesses like Atlanta-based Yuri’s Market offer sourcing services, which means, essentially, you tell them what you want and then they’ll go find it for you. While this may cost you a bit more in the end, it takes the guesswork out of finding a specific designer piece, saving you time and energy in the process.
How To Find Vintage Jean Paul Gaultier Tip No. 8: The Care Label Is Key To Preservation
Since you’ll likely be spending a good amount of money on your vintage Gaultier find, it’s important to know how to best maintain it, too. There’s arguably nothing worse than incorrectly caring for an item and essentially ruining it. Not only do you lose out on an investment piece you just saved up for, it’s taking away value from your personal archives and leaving you back where you started. If needed, don’t be afraid to cash out on the delicate wash formulas from businesses like The Laundress to hand-wash the pieces yourself, or find a trusted dry cleaner to handle more special (and delicate) cases.