After years of being viewed by younger generations as embarrassingly naff, the era of flares, flower power and funk is back in vogue.
It means items of classic 1970s home decor such as cane furniture, floral curtains and bulky vases, previously found mostly in charity shops, are in high demand.
There has been a similar boom in interest in original 1970s clothing, with eBay searches for ‘tie-dye shirts’ up by 280 per cent, and for ‘creepers’ (platform-soled shoes) up by 150 per cent, compared with this time last year.
So if lockdown has inspired you to have a clear-out for the first time in years, or you have recently inherited any homeware, soft furnishings or clothes from the disco decade, stop before you throw anything away — it may be worth more than you think.
DON’T CHUCK OUT THOSE CANE CHAIRS
‘Five years ago you really couldn’t give stuff like cane furniture away. You’d see it at car boot sales for £2 and nobody was interested — now it’s selling on eBay for hundreds of pounds,’ says Lynnette Hecker, who runs online retro shop Lovely’s Vintage Emporium.
The fashion stylist, 52, has filled her home near Bristol with items from the decade, which she has loved since childhood.
She believes the recent surge of interest in all things 1970s has been triggered partly by the coronavirus lockdown.
‘People are working from home and spending much more time there,’ she says. ‘Times are tricky, so we want to create a feeling of being comfortable, cosy and cocooned — and 1970s style gives just that.
‘There is also a nostalgia for things that remind us of the homes of our Source: Ebay and Etsy parents — or, in the case of younger generations, their grandparents.’
Online searches reflect this ‘Covid effect’ — eBay reports that the number of buyers looking for ‘cane furniture’ has risen by 77 per cent since before lockdown.
Social media is also a factor, says Lynnette. ‘People are more interested in aesthetics — and the 1970s looks good.
‘Particularly on Instagram, I see young people who can’t afford to buy who are furnishing their [rented] homes with bohemian 1970s items to make them feel nicer.’
Vintage furniture seller Stuart Murray has likewise seen a rise in demand from customers looking for original 1970s pieces at his Glasgow store Retrovintage, which sells online to all over the UK.
‘The 1970s is bang on trend right now, and prices for early 1970s furniture, in particular, are going up and up,’ he says.
He believes the style is popular because sleek 1970s designs look good alongside modern furniture but are higher quality, and buying secondhand is more environmentally friendly than buying new.
‘People like the fact that these pieces have stood the test of time,’ he says.
‘They have survived for about 50 years and are still in good nick, whereas a piece of modern furniture might be on the tip within five years.
‘There is also the green element. Buying vintage means eco-conscious shoppers can save something old from going to landfill.’
WHICH ITEMS FETCH MOST?
So if you’re having a clearout, what items could net you the biggest profit?
Lynnette recommends selling home accessories made from on-trend bamboo, cane, rattan or wicker, or fabrics in classic 1970s designs such as big floral or geometric patterns in browns or greens. ‘But if you’re looking to make the most money, you need to look for ceramics, paintings, jewellery or high-end vintage fashion,’ she says.
With ceramics, vases from West Germany (look for a ‘W. Germany’ stamp on the bottom) are increasingly popular.
And in fashion, classic British brands such as Laura Ashley can sell for up to a few hundred pounds, while dresses by the iconic 1970s designer Ossie Clark sell for up to £2,000.
Stuart, who specialises in wooden furniture, says high-quality teak and rosewood sideboards, tables, chairs and shelving units can fetch up to £2,000.
‘Danish furniture is particularly high quality, but I sell a lot of British pieces as well,’ he says. The price depends on the item’s condition. Anything still with its original labels or packaging could fetch double the price of an identical item with a lot of wear and tear.
THE BEST WAY TO SELL YOUR STUFF
Selling via an online auction site such as eBay means competing buyers bidding against each other could drive up the price.
But you will have to pay a fee of 10 per cent of the combined final sale price and postage costs.
Emma Grant, eBay’s head of ‘pre-loved’, says using words such as ‘1970s’, ‘retro’ and any brand names in the title of your listing increases the likelihood that buyers will find your item and bid on it.
‘Be honest about the condition of the product and be sure to note any wear and tear,’ she adds.
For higher-value items, such as wooden furniture and jewellery, you might be better off selling to a dealer — you can ask in your nearest antiques centre or search online to find specialist buyers.
Niche items can fetch the best prices at specialist auctions, which attract buyers from all over the world.
Kerry Taylor Auctions specialises in designer clothing, while auctioneer Hansons holds regular vintage clothing and textile sales.
Fieldings Auctioneers, meanwhile, has an interest in 1970s toys. These can be worth a lot — a rare Star Wars figurine sold at auction in the U.S. last year for £143,000.
Auction house experts should value your items for free, but you will have to pay fees of about 10 per cent to 15 per cent of the final sale price. There may also be additional handling, insurance or storage fees, so make sure you ask for a full quotation before deciding to go ahead.