Decadence on a budget.
There is a major thrill of the hunt feeling for me – and a whole lot of FOMO – in looking for a particular pre-owned bag or pair of shoes on which my sights are set. Getting a great deal on a beautifully-crafted, high quality item feels like hitting the lotto. I love knowing I’m getting a great deal on something that’s likely to last me a very long time.
As a former fashion designer, I truly understand the rules of retail pricing and why designer items cost so much. But sometimes I just can’t stomach paying full price to buy something new. I mean, no one truly wants to end up like Carrie Bradshaw in this regard: “I’ve spent $40,000 on shoes and I have no place to live?”
So how should you go about finding a good deal, and knowing you’re getting a legitimate designer good? And what should you even look for to know if it’s going to be a sound investment?
First off, never look at a bag or shoe as an investment. Unless, perhaps it’s a Chanel or Hermes, which do typically retain their value really well.
For me, I have a weird instinct with these things. I know a trend and I know a classic, and I can pinpoint an item that is going to withstand the test of time. It’s why I have a closet full of items that are now considered vintage, because I’ve purchased in a way that I actually don’t want to part with a lot things.
Sometimes, you just get lucky. Back in 2005, I purchased my first designer bag – a mini Christian Dior saddle bag that I had no business purchasing with my paycheck-to-paycheck existence as a restaurant hostess and fashion school student. But there was something about this bag that pulled at my heartstrings and sang to my soul. So I pulled the trigger and purchased that bad boy. And now, that $475 cost is valued at over $1,300! (Note: I will probably never part with this piece, but it’s nice to know it’s held its value so well).
So when it comes to purchasing pre-owned designer goods, I first recommend knowing your source (as with your news, ladies). Does the retailer authenticate their inventory? Sites like The Real Real, Rebag, Decades, and Poshmark are great places to start.
I spoke with Torunn Labella of The Real Real, who confirmed that this is a huge reason for their happy client base. “I think most clients are really enjoying shopping on the site because they know items are being authenticated and trust the company.”
If you don’t happen to have the same gut instinct that I’ve managed over the years with my pre-owned designer purchases, what can you look for right now, as we enter the holiday season and perhaps you want to get something special for yourself or a loved one?
According to Labella, “I’m seeing a lot of large handbags and totes being consigned – brands from Kate Spade to Hermes.” So there’s really something for everyone.
Additionally, she says, “What we are seeing in trends that are selling on our site and what I’m suggesting to consign right now, are women’s luxe knitwear, evening dresses, evening bags, and elevated flats.” She’s also seeing a lot of interest in everyday jewelry and minimal diamond jewelry.
Here’s another big reason you can feel good about your pre-owned designer purchases: there’s a really good argument for supporting the sustainability initiative.
Labella’s clients feel great about this. “They feel like they are helping the environment. We all want to be part of a great trend and a great cause. Gucci has collaborated with us… and has really backed our concept – and for every Gucci item a consignor consigns on our site, they will plant a tree. We have over 17 million members on our site that are embracing this way of shopping.”
My first diaper bag was a gorgeous Fendi I found through a Decades pop-up in Chicago in early 2012. Then there’s a pair of bright coral Loubs (also from Decades) and a Gucci x MLB NY Yankees Rajah Tote, which I purchased in never-used condition from Poshmark. I purchased each of these items for well over 50% off of their retail price, and they were in absolutely perfect condition.
I’m living proof that you don’t have to pay full retail price for a brand new item, and that embracing the pre-owned way of life can be a fully exciting and rewarding way to go. So treat yourself! Tis the season, after all.
I’m even sharing some of my favorite designer finds that are on sale right now, in case you’re currently in the market.