Second-Hand Never Looked So Fabulous!
Before I get into Luxury Consignment shopping, let’s be super real for a moment here. Fashion is an integral part of who we are as individuals. Clothing can be transformative, elevating and fun.
But garment production is also one of the main contributors to environmental pollution. And as someone who loves fashion, from runway shows to flea markets, that can be a hard pill to swallow. In fact, it’s part of the reason I decided to switch my career away from fashion and into technology. Garment production not only abuses people in developing countries, but it also dumps tons of chemical waste into our rivers and oceans. And that damage will be felt for decades to come.
Compound-in the fact that fast fashion allows people to buy cheaply made clothes and toss them away after a few seasons, and you’re left with a bleak outlook for the future.
So what’s an environmentally-conscious fashion-forward consumer to do? Well, there are several options actually! In a previous post, I spoke about sustainable fashion brands. Which means companies that take their environmental footprint seriously. Today I’d like to talk about buying second hand. And I’d like to focus on luxury consignment in particular.
Luxury consignment shops allow you to buy high-end, high-quality items for a fraction of their original retail value. These items are typically pre-loved, AKA: second hand. Though you can sometimes find brand new, fresh-from-the-shelf luxury goods too! (See point 1. below.)
So, let’s break down some fun insights I’ve gained in my 8+ years of visiting luxury consignment shops.
1. Luxury Items have History, and Sometimes it’s Shocking.
Luxury Consignment goods often have an interesting backstory. And, if you’re in the right place at the right time, you can even score nearly brand-new designer items! It all depends on who the previous owner was.
Did you know that some sugar babies trade their unwanted sugar daddy gifts for cash at Consignment stores?? (I’m not condoning the lifestyle, but man do they bring in some big-ticket items!) Fashion influencers also frequently sell-off their designer goods. Both of these groups drop off the latest and most expensive bags, shoes and jewelry. And because mint condition items have a higher trade-in value, they may even still have the tags attached. Who knew, right?
Of course, most things at consignment shops have been a part of someone’s personal collection for years. Estate closings sometimes sell off society women’s closet contents when they pass away or need to forfeit their property. And these bulk fashion sales are scooped up by savvy consignment shop buyers. In fact, my Dolce & Gabbana dress (worn in this story) is from an estate sale! Look for Chanel jackets, Burberry trench coats and cocktail dresses from these old-money hauls. The indicator that your item is from an estate sale will be a numbered ticket attached somewhere inside the garment.
2. Your Work Wear Will Never Be The Same.
Luxury Consignment is the perfect place to find chic work wear. In fact, I have a general rule when I walk into a consignment shop: I must be able to wear what I buy at the office. It’s tempting to just buy whatever appeals to you. (Hello Marc Jacobs mini skirt!) But buying with purpose is a much better strategy. Look for blazers, blouses, sheath dresses, pencil skirts, trousers and shoes that are office appropriate. Think about it as investing towards your future self.
3. It’s a Financially Smarter Way to Approach Designer.
In terms of cost, you’ll spend a fraction of what you would if you bought the item new. Of course, it depends on the age and condition of the piece. It if’s fresh off the arm of a sugar baby and still has the tags attached, it’s going to sell for closer to current market value. But if the piece has some subtle signs of wear, you can snatch it for a great price.
It’s pretty obvious, but I want to emphasize that you do not need to go broke chasing after “It” items and Instagram trends. Seriously! It’s silly and a waste of your hard earned cash girl! Only invest in things you truly love. And when you are ready to invest in a luxury item, why not get it at a better price?
4. The Offerings at Consignment Shops Vary By The Owner’s Particular Taste and Agenda.
Luxury Consignment shop owners have strict criteria for what they accept and sell. And for a good reason! They look over items carefully and often only buy seasonally. Any shop owner worth her salt will only buy what she thinks will appeal to her clientele. Keep in mind that the “ideal customer” for each consignment shop varies. One shop may have more evening wear, one may focus on work wear, and another may pride itself on having the best stock of Louis Vuitton bags in the city.
And I’ve also noticed that shops typically cater to one of the following: younger buyers, seeking fashion-forward designs and on-trend brands, or older clientele looking for classic brands and more conservative designs. So make sure you check out a few places and take note of what type of goods they are stocking. This way, you know where to go when you need a fitted, badass blazer vs an elegant statement dress.
Featured Shoes: Luxury, vegan heels by Stella McCartney
In this post, I’m also taking my minimalist mules out for a stroll around Old Mill in Toronto’s West End. Stella McCartney never uses animal skins and their shoes are made ethically in Italy.
5. You Can Wear Head-to-Toe Designer and Help the Planet.
Yes, you can look damn good while helping to massively reduce clothing waste. (The amount of clothing thrown into landfills every year is astronomical. Worldwide, it’s 26 billion pounds per year.) And the majority of it is thrown out unnecessarily! If you are planning to invest in a new fashion piece, why not consider first looking at items that are pre-loved? You will help continue that item’s life cycle, slow down the demand for fast fashion, and you will be investing in a high-quality piece that will last you for years.