Behind the Screens: Curation at THE FIFTH COLLECTION

By
Angie Chen


Of late, the buzz word in fashion (or anything really) is this term known as "Curation". It has been used to loosely describe a carefully selected range of pieces, painstakingly handpicked by a team or a person. At THE FIFTH COLLECTION, we strongly stand by this definition. You see, as the head curator of the company, I can safely say that we mean what we say when the term curate is being used. There is a specific process that needs to be adhered to and this is something that we take pride in. 

Now, because my title is "The Curator", I often get asked: "what exactly do you do as a curator? And what does it involve?". These are fair questions to ask and so, in this article, I will detail the process of curation that we go through with every single item that comes to us. Why the curation process? It is to ensure that both our buyers and sellers are assured of not just quality and authenticity but most importantly a transparent and honest process.

Rejection of an item during the initial session depends on a couple of points. Too damaged? Out. Not a luxe brand? Out. Noticeable stains? Out. Nothing personal here, we just want your items to get the best second life they deserve.
— Angie
 

The first step in our process is picking up your treasured items. This is where a member of our team personally goes through with you each item you are considering of letting go and consigning with us. During this session, we share our knowledge to ensure that you get the optimum information about each of your products. We handpick the items we've ascertained will be appreciated by our database of shoppers. Now, this is also why we do reject certain brands, styles or items. Rejection of an item during the initial session depends on a couple of points. Too damaged? Out. Not a luxe brand? Out. Noticeable stains? Out. Nothing personal here, we just want your items to get the best second life they deserve and to be amongst the best selection that one can find in the market.

After the first big step that you’ve made with us, the second round of curation (when the pieces are back in the office) is when the legwork truly begins.

Each item is carefully authenticated, researched and inspected by our team. We believe that every product that comes to us has a story to tell - whether it is part of a a special collaboration, or an unique runway piece, collectors pieces (we love our Tom Ford for Gucci and Alber Elbaz for Lanvin pieces!). Hence, we strongly believe in the power of information.

The team scours through books and websites constantly to be able to provide specific knowledge about an item. This, in turn, helps us in determining the value of an item. When we quote you a price, you can be ensured that it is the most competitive one as it has been researched and derived from across various mediums. This also applies to our shoppers - the item that you are eyeing on our website has been researched upon thoroughly for your peace of mind! 

The Curator researching a particular scarf

We are the only ones to have artificial intelligence technology powering our authentication process to protect our customers. What does this mean? You never have to worry about authenticity with us. #walkthewalk #buyfromthebest #luxurygoodsauthentication⠀

The next step in our process after determining the history and authenticity of an item is to gather and provide specific product details. This is to ensure that our descriptions are honest to a fault, including listing the features of an item as well as type of material, stitching, shape, measurements and everything observable to us. It goes right down to describing design details, like whether a dress has knife or inverse pleats, or if a leather is distressed or smooth.

The next, and most crucial step, is inspecting for flaws. Here, we list down every single little detail we can see -  be it a scratch, scuff, discolouration or mark. We go as far as to using a magnifying glass to note the most minute flaw. If we discover that the item is too damaged, we simply reject it. There are times when we come across amazing pieces,  like a stunning Giambattista Valli floral dress, only to discover that it has humidity marks. As much as it pains us to see it go, we have to reject the item. You see, a major part of this curation process is to put ourselves in the shoes of our buyers and sellers every time and always ask the all important question: "Would we buy this?"

That ultimately is the backbone and decision maker of our curation process.

Here, we list down every single little detail we can see -  be it a scratch, scuff, discolouration or mark. If we discover that the item is too damaged, we simply reject it.

We measure everything, so you don't have to guess. 

All information is then recorded and sent to our sellers who will make the final decision on the price based on what we have recommended. Once approved, we send the items to be photographed in-house and then proceed to list them on the website with the same information.

Every piece is then stored with us to ensure that we have access to it at all times so that when there is a query, we can answer it immediately.

Is it a tedious and long process? Yes it is, but we don’t believe in slipshod work and want our clients to be 100% assured and informed - whether you sell or buy with us. So when we use the term "curation", we truly mean it in the most obsessive and traditional sense.

The way a museum would curate an art or historical exhibition, we do it for the items that are entrusted with us to create the selection that all of us want to shop from.