I’d be lying if I said I didn’t follow treads and I do covet some of the latest and greatest designs introduced into the fashion world. However, I can rarely justify paying full price for anything, especially for a high-end luxury piece that is very expensive. Like I mentioned in a previous post, I do make the exception if I have a gift card or if I’ve saved up long and hard for it (e.g. my pretty wedding shoes). What I do appreciate more is a great deal. If I can’t afford something, I just don’t buy it. I might slip sometimes and buy it, but then I end up having to return it later. Keep in mind that that would apply for regular retail purchases. All the consignment stores I’ve purchased from do not allow exchanges or refunds. I always keep that in the back of my mind when I shop pre-owned!
I appreciate great craftsmanship and attention to detail when it comes to fashion. Vintage pieces have more history, uniqueness and appeal to me. With luxury items, it doesn’t need to be in season for me to love it. I prefer to have statement pieces that speak to me or happen to compliment items in my closet 😉 I didn’t get into buying preloved (pre-owned) and vintage items until I shopped in L.A., San Francisco and New York. As shopping consignment was becoming a trend a few years back. It was evident that when people own high end luxury handbags in particular, they put a lot of care into the bag especially since these babies come with hefty price tags. So these consigned items are usually in pristine condition. California had so many options of buying luxury preloved and vintage items. I even stumbled across a pop-up luxury consignment store in L.A. a few years back. The name of this particular place was called, “Divorcee’s Closet” LOL. I’m so glad that the option of buying preloved items is now becoming more accessible to Canadians.
When I was in the U.S., I loved sites like Gilt (mostly sells new items but from time to time there will be a flash sale of vintage luxury items. Bonus: Gilt ships to Canada), Fashionphile and Yoogi’s Closet. At the time, the dollar was at par so I was getting great deals! I was able to add LV as well as Prada and Chanel to my collection. When my husband lived in the U.S., it was a lot more convenient to order from these websites.
There is still hope for us fellow Canadians looking to score amazing vintage finds. Here in Toronto, one place that I was shockingly surprised to find vintage items for sale was at Winners and Marshalls, during their Red Carpet Event. I found some items that made me do a double take. “Hermes bracelets for $150?!? That had to be a mistake.” But low and behold…my eyes did not deceive me. They were preloved vintage items with a little note attached to it.
I took a picture to show you some of the things that I found. Yes, some of the preloved vintage items were still way out of my budget (like the $9,999 Hermes handbag, the Louis Vuitton bag and the Cartier rings), but bangles and bracelets at $150 were definitely a score!
If there aren’t any Winners and Marshall’s stores in your area selling vintage and pre-owned pieces, try checking out some consignment stores around the city like Extoggery, Haute Classics, Consign Toronto and Kind Exchange. Extoggery, Haute Classics and Consign Toronto are stores where you’ll have to fork over a little more for luxury goods but there are still deals to be found with enough patience and persistence. With Haute Classics and Consign Toronto, you have the convenience of shopping online. Kind exchange is more along the lines of a slightly upscale Value Village. You don’t find very many high end couture pieces but if you are just looking for something current and trendy on a budget this is the place for you. Since it is smaller than Value Village, there is less rummaging around to do.
You can become a great consignment shopper, and the key thing is to do your research. I find that even when I’m shopping in consignment stores, I will go on my phone to find the item and see if I’m truly getting a great deal. Go to Google or major department store websites to compare the original prices of the actual item or similar items. You can also search on eBay to find comparable items in that condition. My personal rule is that it must be at least half price to make it worthwhile if I’m not buying it brand new. Many times, I’ve scored brand new items with tags at these shops, so again, it pays to do a little bit of digging. An added bonus is that they guarantee all their items are authentic. It also doesn’t hurt to ask if it comes in it’s original box or with a receipt (hard to come by but I always ask)
If you have an item that is just sitting around in your closet, why not consign it? Keep in mind, many places will require that you leave the items with them for 30 to 90 days, and you do not receive payment until the item has sold. For the convenience, they take at least 50% (on average) of what the item ends up selling for. Someone will appraise your item and list the price at the store. You can try to suggest a price that you feel is fair, but they will give you a realistic amount as they know what items typically sell for. Different places have their own selling options and policies. Some options include selling it directly to the store for them to re-sell, you will get your money right away, but the payout is less. If you consign and have them sell the item on your behalf, you usually get more value for your item. However, if your item does not sell after a certain period (60 days usually), it is your responsibility to come back for it, or they will donate it. Also, some places require clothing to be dry-cleaned before being accepted.
Consignment shops are a great way to find affordable luxury items. They also help to support the local economy, encourages recycling, and even helps you make a few bucks. If you are finding that the items at the various consignment shops are still out of your budget, you can always wait for one of their sales. Even though I’ve never been to a Kind Exchange sale, I was told by the sales associate that they have a “Fill a bag for $20” sale. I don’t think you’ll ever encounter that kind of sale at a high end consignment shop but I’ve been to sales where they have slashed their prices in half 🙂 It never hurts to ask when their next sale is.
Consider making it a girls’ shopping/consigning trip, and you can consign your items at the same time as your girlfriends. Once you’re there, you can shop and compare notes on whether or not an item is a good buy. I have a girlfriend who’s so organized. Before she consigns all of her items, she will print off a list of each item and list how much she purchased the item for and what she’s hoping to consign it for. Many of her items are NWT (new with tags). She lived in NYC for a few years, so her selection is amazing! Before she consigns her items, she’ll show us all the pretty pieces first. That way it’s win win if we end up buying it from her. She’ll make a little more money than putting it on consignment and we pay a little less than buying it on consignment;)
Do you know a great place to buy vintage clothing and accessories? Share your thoughts in the comments below.