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The Instagram unearthing eBay’s most obscure fashion

And a whole lot more besides: hit follow on @ebaybae

Tae In Ahn is the woman behind @ebaybae, the Instagram account curating eBay’s most obscure listings. By day she works at The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, but her spare time is spent scouring eBay for unexpected inspiration. Aside from the obvious requirement (that all @ebaybae images must be legit eBay listings) each post must be one of two things: highbrow ridiculous and lowbrow brilliant, or lowbrow ridiculous and highbrow brilliant. 

The listings that have made the cut range from a pair of Gucci sliders with Donald Duck’s face painted on them and a “realistic” popcorn kernel earring and bracelet set, to a designer canine candy collection, aptly named Chewy Vuitton – all testament to Ahn’s fascination with material culture and consumerism, good taste vs. bad taste, and the appropriation of design. 

When it comes to the search terms that have enabled Ahn to unearth such gems, they range from “money origami”, to “salesman samples” and “hidden safes” – each of which has lead Ahn down a virtual rabbit hole for hours on end in order to find eBay’s most absurd listings before banking them in the @ebaybae collection. Curious to know what @ebaybae would be, if it were an eBay listing? Keep scrolling.

Who are you?

@ebaybae: My name is Tae In Ahn. I am an INTP based in New York. I have a background in art, design, as well as curatorial and conservation studies in fashion & textiles. I’m currently Collections Specialist for The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and I specialise in creating custom storage mounts for our permanent collection.

How would you describe @ebaybae?

@ebaybae: An amusing catalogue of eBay listings curated in a series of themes, celebrating the novelty in fashion, decorative arts, and everyday items.

What made you start the account? 

@ebaybae: One of my favourite pastimes has always been eye-shopping, which escalated once I started grad school and got deep into object-based research. It started out as a way to share absurd listings with friends and as an outlet to release my consumerist desires, basically all the things that I wish I could get if only I had an unlimited budget and an unlimited storage space.  

How do you go about finding each listing?

@ebaybae: I have saved searches that I browse through but sometimes I’ll spontaneously search for something I’m inspired by at the moment, such as a specific product category, designer, event, object, material, word or combination of words. Once I start a search I will then refine it, leading me to various rabbit holes and finding something completely unexpected.

What are some of your favourite listings you’ve ever posted?

@ebaybae: There are so many! But some examples include an orange kiosk, a plastic bag for 20 eggs, a pair of sewing tweezers shaped like legs, an Alexander Girard bicycle, and the series of doggy designer chew toys like the Chewy Vuitton bag. I also love the pasta series, the green grass series, and everyday items covered in Swarovski crystals.

Do your references reveal anything about you?

@ebaybae: I think my references reveal my fascination for references. I think my posts present a combination of my personal aesthetic preferences along with my academic interests in material culture and consumerism. I love examining the cult behind luxury labels, good taste vs. bad taste, monetary value vs. aesthetic value, and the appropriation of symbols and design. But at the same time, I basically enjoy discovering visually striking objects at a visceral level – from the texture of plastic to the physical arrangement of a collection of pencils. Also, the consistencies with the format and theme to the posts reveal my OCD nature.

What's the most bizarre listing you've encountered?

@ebaybae: There are so many examples, however the most bizarre has to be this listing selling photos of custom messages written with real black caviar.

“I think my references reveal my fascination for references. I think my posts present a combination of my personal aesthetic preferences along with my academic interests in material culture and consumerism” – Tae In Ahn

If you had to soundtrack your account, which artists would you choose?

@ebaybae: Muzak Orchestra, Jean-Jacques Perry, and anything that sounds like the background music on the show How It's Made.

If you were a listing, what would you be?

@ebaybae: A wholesale lot of TSA-confiscated pocket knives.

Has anything unexpected come from your account? 

@ebaybae: All the support and positive feedback from my friends, colleagues, and followers via real life and DMs has been so great. For the most part, the DMs have been people expressing their support or sending me their interesting eBay finds. I also have been getting some DMs where my account is confused as the official eBay and these messages either regard an item that never arrived or troubleshooting issues. 

Who do you love to follow on Instagram?

@ebaybae: @aleia, @avanope, @fontanesi, @scenic_simpsons, @smallspells, @doingwell, @michel_e_b, @decorhardcore, @uglydesign.