In the hamlets of the Hamptons, connoisseurs of design converge, drawn by a trove of vintage treasures curated by dealers catering to a discerning clientele. Among them stands Zöe Hoare, the maven behind Hoare & Hoare Antiques in Sagaponack — a stalwart in the field. Nurtured amidst antiquities by her mother from a tender age, Zöe possesses an instinctual knack for assembling collections that evoke the essence and heritage of bygone eras. In an exclusive interview, she unveils her fervor for uncovering hidden gems, shares insights into contemporary antique décor, and reflects on the evolving landscape of the Hamptons antique trade.
How did you first get interested in antiques, and what inspired you to start up Hoare & Hoare Antiques?
My passion for all things old and historical is truly part of my DNA, and it was my mother, Appley Hoare, who helped me develop my eye for beautiful pieces that have already lived another life. When I am looking for stock for my business or clients, part of the thrill is wondering what or where a piece came from, what was its purpose, and what evidence is left that makes it beautiful.
How do you select the antiques and collectibles to feature in your shop? What’s your curation process?
It is quite hard to explain how I select my stock, but mostly it’s just a feeling, an instant attraction to a color, a shape, a style, that perfect piece of distressed paint, or the simple form of a country cupboard, but also, if it couldn’t live in my home, I don’t buy it, because if it doesn’t sell, it’s coming home! The curation process stays pretty much the same… all my pieces show their age — proudly! I want to see the wear and tear, the crumbling, distressed paint… the witness marks from its former existence.
What are some of the most unique or rare items you’ve had for sale in your shop?
Right now I have an old wooden shipping case for a double bass, with all the original labels from its trip to New York from South America in the 1950s. I can picture it in a hotel, bar, or someone’s music room.
I also have a wonderful large iron horse sign from an old French tack shop, 19th century, with its original Paint.
What is your specialty in terms of the types of antiques you sell? Do you focus on any particular era or style?
17th, 18th & 19th century French, Italian, Swedish, and Early American Country furniture.
How has the antique business in the Hamptons changed over the years?
Sadly, it has dwindled. However, some wonderful dealers are making it work. Many have moved into a more modern era. Many of my clients are decorating with an eclectic mix of styles, both old and new. I am seeing an uptick in clients wanting less “fast furniture” like “fast fashion,” I think we all want to restore, reuse, upcycle, repair, and re-imagine our homes a little bit more. With technology taking over our daily lives, including some pieces in a home that have a connection to the old ways of living can make a home warm, inviting, and a reflection of your personality.
How do you go about acquiring pieces for your shop? Do you travel to auctions, estate sales, etc.?
I have been buying from dealers in France, Italy, Belgium, and the UK, and I have traveled to the antique shows with my mother since I was a child. For Early American furniture, I buy from dealers and private collections, here and across the USA.
Do you notice any trends in what customers are looking for these days when it comes to antiques or vintage items?
Beautiful Patina is always a good seller, and darker painted pieces have been selling — black furniture is very strong right now, instead of the classic Swedish style light furniture. Garden antiques are selling well; stone animals, iron benches, and architectural pieces that can add a dramatic element to a garden are also more popular.
What are some of your tips for identifying valuable antiques or spotting a hidden gem?
Value shouldn’t matter. Buy what you love and want to live with… its value is what beauty and interest it brings to your home.
What advice would you give to someone just starting to collect antiques?
Again, go with your gut — if you are looking to buy and sell, you do need to do some price research. Don’t go into this business expecting to get rich — Van Goghs in attics are few and far between.
Have you helped any high-profile celebrities or public figures find antiques for their homes?
A certain female pop singer has been a client of mine and also my mother’s. She has very good taste. My mother had Tina Turner buying a 16-foot 18th-century French monk’s table from her store in London. London was always busy with famous and infamous customers! Celebrities are usually quick and easy to deal with. It’s their entourage that is usually the most difficult to manage!
If you could pick any era or style of antique as your absolute favorite, which would you choose and why?
Early simple painted or not, country furniture. French or Swedish are my favorites, and I adore blue and white stripes, old ticking, heavy French 19th-century linen or hemp fabrics. My home is a 300-year-old salt box cottage, made partly using the ribs from an old whaling ship — so it’s an antique itself! My collection changes constantly. I’m a wheeler and dealer. Pretty much everything is for sale at home — apart from the dogs, Athena and Mabel!
What do you enjoy most about running an antique shop in this area? What are some of the challenges?
Seasonal changes! However, online websites like 1st Dibs and Chairish, In Collect have opened up a new market for us all. Instagram has also changed the game big time — I get a lot of inquiries through @hoareandhoareantiques.
I was raised in the retail business. I enjoy curating a store, chasing down stock, talking with like-minded people sharing our love for old furniture and its history, and enjoying the innate beauty of each item.
To learn more visit hoareandhoareantiques.