The Cool Hunters

The Cool Hunters

Last Updated: 08 Dec 2014
Beverly Ligman

In an age where everything old is new again, it’s hardly surprising that hip young men with an eye for interiors are turning to antiques. But what are they buying, and where can you find it?

It's safe to say that men are absolutely loving antiques right now. In fact, let's be bold and call it 'mantiquing'.

So what's with the trend? For starters, stylish young men with an eye for design probably have more disposable income these days than they ever have before, thanks to higher wages and many WA men working FIFO. It's a perfect set up for a backlash against a global retail market in which things are often mass-produced.

And then there's the hipster movement to thank – thrift-shop chic and Grandpa style has definitely made a comeback. You only have to look at all the beards on show in any cool Perth venue of a Friday night to realise that retro is having a moment.

It's no different when it comes to interiors. Men are avidly searching for objects to fill their spaces – items that have an interesting back story, something their Granddad's might have owned, and something they themselves can pass down to future generations.

But it's not just hipsters and cool kids getting in on the act – there are plenty of men who are buying items simply because they love them. Whether it's a vintage radio, a Chesterfield sofa or an old model steam engine, men's purchases are influencing interiors like they never have before.

Bill Fraser, owner of Drakesbrook Antiques in Waroona, has noticed younger men have become more interested in the market. "Men generally collect Garage-analia," he says. "Swords and weapons, lamps, telephones, cameras, radios, trains, cars, fishing gear, instruments, aeroplanes, ivory, stamps, coins. Or Bar-analia: cocktail pieces are very popular.

"We've noticed quite a few FIFO guys coming in who really want to invest their money in something that will hold its value and that they enjoy having in their homes.

"We get a lot of interest in our Moorcraft pieces, and similarly anything with
a military slant, or instruments such as telescopes, railway pieces and clocks. It's really about what appeals to the individual buyer."

Art deco is also a big hit with the boys. Collectable figurines, cocktail pieces, corkscrews and taxidermy all rate highly with male customers, according to Emma Gryg from Subiaco Antiques. "We source our antiques from America, so we have a lot of really interesting art deco pieces," she says. "Younger men are definitely taking a bigger interest now, and they love to know the stories behind what they buy. Men especially love the ivory pieces we get in, and anything for desks such as letter openers and clocks.

"The best thing about putting antiques into modern spaces is the way that something with an old patina can instantly warm a room. Interesting pieces are also conversation starters, adding to the charm of a space, creating an individual interior story."

Men have also taken their love of antiques to the kitchen, says Elka Rijks from Dutch Antiques and More Than Antiques.

"With cooking shows being very popular I think there's a big trend for country kitchens at the moment, we find that anything we have like that sells quickly. There's a definite interest in electric clocks at the moment too, especially the Electrique Brille brand. They are cool and collectable timepieces. We always have a lot of interest from men in barometers, storm glasses and anything that can help create a 'Gentleman's Den'. The trend seems to be men wanting to make a space that has an antique library feel, a room that really represents them and who they are."

Antique jewellery is also making an impression on mantiquers, says Judith Sher of Steven Sher Antiques and Fine Jewellery, who has found more and more men are looking for unique pieces. "We have a lot of men come in looking for rose gold wedding bands and rings that are something a little bit out of the ordinary," she says. "So many things are mass-produced these days, so something antique is always going to be a bit more quirky."

Judith says fob watches, rings with a Victorian or medieval slant, and military pieces are incredibly popular with men at the moment. "I think the military pieces are gaining in popularity again because of the ANZAC centenary approaching.

"We find that men in particular love knowing the history of a piece, they want to know the period it came from, where it came from and where we found it. That's the wonderful thing about antiques, absolutely everything has a story."

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