A jewelry designer recently bought what appears to be a Ralph Lauren sweater at an estate sale.
She paid $10 for the quilted piece, which was created for the designer's 1982 ready-to-wear line.
Speaking with Insider, the thrifter said she's hoping to preserve the piece, maybe in a museum.
But when a handmade piece caught her eye, she quickly realized it wasn't any average day of thrifting.
"I was digging through a box of sweaters, and saw what I thought was an old quilt at the bottom of the box," Miller told Insider. "I love quilts and always have my eye out for them at sales. But I was thrilled when I saw it was actually a sweater with a quilted front."
She knew instantly that the piece was handmade, but wasn't expecting it to have a designer label: Ralph Lauren.
"I unbuttoned the sweater and saw another label on the inside lining," she said. "It explained that this piece was made from an antique quilt, with very specific care instructions. At that point, I was ecstatic."
So she paid $10 to take it home and immediately did some research. To Miller's surprise, she discovered that the sweater appears to be a handmade piece from the designer's Fall/Winter 1982 collection inspired by Americana folk art.
That label Miller mentioned explains that the "heirloom-quality" sweater "should be handled with extreme care" as it was made from an "authentic antique quilt."
"Modern dry cleaning and washing methods may cause permanent damage to the delicate fabrics and dyes," the tag says. "Therefore, we recommend gently airing in the traditional nineteenth-century manner. If cleaning should become necessary, please consult an expert in antique textiles, such as the textile conservatory in South Salem, NY."
The tag also recommends that its owner "avoid unnecessary stress on the fragile threads" and store it in a cool, moisture-free environment.
Miller noted in a TikTok video that the sweater "is not in perfect condition" and doesn't fit her the way she'd want it to.
She told Insider that she's "a little torn" on what to do with it.
"At first I wanted to keep it, but after learning more about the history of the piece, I know it can't just sit in my closet," she said. "I would love to see it go to a museum or somewhere it will be preserved and appreciated."
She's also eager to learn what it's worth and is hoping to get it appraised in the near future.
"I'm a jewelry designer and a slow-fashion enthusiast, so I have such appreciation for things made by hand," she said. "Finding this one-of-a-kind piece from such a well-known American designer is thrilling. I want to make sure this piece of fashion history ends up in the right hands."
Have you thrifted any rare items? Insider would like to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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