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Car-ving out a niche in the collectibles market
WHEN the other girls in her dorm at boarding school in Australia were putting up posters of boy bands and movies on their walls, Talenia Phua Gajardo was beautifying her own surroundings with images of classic cars.
The founder of curated online art gallery The Artling and secondary online luxury marketplace Luxglove says: "I'm not quite sure where my passion for classic cars came from, but it's been with me a long time. I think it's to do with the craft and design of the older cars because as automated and efficient as new models are, they just don't have the same strength of character."
That's why when she was approached by a private collector who couldn't find an appropriate platform to list his 1961 Ferrari 250 GTE, Ms Gajardo seized the opportunity with both hands.
Not the best fit
She explains: "In Singapore, we have online platforms like Ebay, Amazon and Carousell, which are all doing really well, but they aren't the best fit for the items we have, those that average about S$8,000 in price. We started with art at The Artling, and then expanded into categories like design, watches and whiskies with Luxglove.
She recalls: "When I saw the photos of this collector's Ferrari, I just knew we had to list it on our platform."
The nine-month-old platform will be holding its first launch event, the Luxglove Classic Car Weekend, at Asiatique Collections from Sept 24 to 25. It will feature not just 22 classic cars - three or four of which will be on sale - but also other collectibles like vintage watches and rare whiskies, as well as panel talks by industry experts.
Ms Gajardo says: "We wanted the event to reflect what we do on the platform, so having a variety of categories turns our online experience into a pop-up offline experience where people can get to know us. So when you enter the space, the idea is that it becomes 'shoppable' and what's on display can be purchased online immediately."
Vintage cars aren't a dime a dozen in Singapore, the most obvious reason for that being a lack of supply, especially when compared with places like the US and the UK.
"But that's changing," notes Ms Gajardo. "As soon as we listed our first classic car, we started getting enquiries from other collectors asking if we could list theirs too which indicates that there is more of a demand now."
But despite the growing classic car community, the Luxglove Classic Car Weekend is the first such event in Singapore.
"Each car type has its own close-knit community of collectors who are very active on social media groups and organise driving trips together. The problem isn't with engagement, it's that the engagement happens on a very fragmented basis," points out the 31-year-old.
Ms Gajardo adds: "This is where we come in. It takes an external party like Luxglove to bring all these people together from a business-neutral standpoint because we're not promoting a particular car make. There will be varied brands at the event, so it's very inclusive."
And the spirit of inclusivity is another reason for not having the event completely classic car-centric.
Ms Gajardo says: "There's actually a lot of overlap in the world of collecting. So you'll have car collectors who are interested in watches and whiskies, and watch-owners who are interested in cars and design, so we want to keep our offerings as varied as the interests of our collectors."
But the event isn't just for those with deep pockets, she stresses.
"Of course it requires a lot of money and effort to maintain a classic car, but that's not what this event is about. It's about appreciating items that are old and have a history, and there'll be a wealth of information there for those who are aspiring collectors and want to know about how others got started."
The two-day event took "months and months" to put together, because of the sheer amount of logistics involved. Ms Gajardo shares: "We have a lot of private collectors showcasing their cars and I think the biggest challenge was just co-ordinating everything."
Ms Gajardo, a Singaporean, hopes to hold this event annually. She concludes: "What we want from it is for it to become a space where collectors and like-minded people come together and share tips and talk about their own journeys with regards to all things vintage."
- The Luxglove Classic Car Weekend will be held at Asiatique Collections Dempsey from Sept 24 to 25. Visitors will be required to download the Luxglove app from the Google Play store or the Apple store for entry.
For more information, please visit luxglove.com