Issue Date: September 27 - October 4, 2001

Once and again BY NINA WILLDORF

In an economic downturn, consignment stores thrive

photoTHERE’S A CERTAIN set for whom the words " last season " are cause for sneering. But backing up that attitude requires serious cash. Take one look at all the belt-tightening around town, and you’ll see that " last season " is making a comeback. A visiting scenester from Los Angeles was recently quizzed on what those in The Industry are wearing these days. " They’re wearing what they were wearing last year, " he said. " No one has any money to buy anything new. "

Now that’s a fashion dictum we can appreciate. But not everyone does - and it’s a good thing, because even better than wearing what we wore last season is wearing what someone else wore. It’s easy to follow in the wake of those few still-solvent slaves to fashion, who purge their walk-in closets practically monthly to make a little moolah on the side.

photoIt’s called high-end resale shopping. And don’t confuse it with down-market vintage, which is made up of ratty little boys’ soccer tees, men’s white dress shirts with yellowed pits, and the indie-rock uniform of cords and cardigans. Consignment stores (which pay sellers a portion of the sale price) and upscale vintage shops (which usually accept clothes as tax-deductible donations) are a step above; shopping here means fancy labels, near-perfect-condition pieces, and, in some cases, a mere six-month delay between that style maven’s closet and yours.

In the fashion world, discounts are like scars: a matter of pride, and fodder for a story. Get ready to slash and burn.

photoSecond Time Around
Now that Manolo Blahnik stiletto ankle boots are, like, so two months ago, they’re teetering onto the floor at local consignment shops, reduced from several hundred dollars to $118, in the case of a pair sitting front and center at this Newbury Street boutique. The 27-year-old store, which has three locations locally, takes pieces on consignment only if they boast big-name labels and are less than two years old. "Our business is good, " says owner Jeff Casler. " People bought a lot of wasteful things, and they’re realizing it’s not all fun and games anymore. "A few impeccably maintained items we held ourselves back from buying recently: weathered Diesel jeans ($50), a Kate Spade handbag ($62), and a BCBG winter suit ($98).

Three locations: 167 Newbury Street, Boston, (617) 247-3504; 8 Eliot Street,
Cambridge, (617) 491-7185; and 1169 Walnut Street, Newton, (617) 964-4481.

Clothes Encounters
" This business is thriving, " says Margaret Plovnick, the proprietress of this small, high-end Brookline resale shop, which sells women’s and baby clothing and some housewares. " Very few people can buy new clothing anymore. " Plovnick plucks her wares from a stable crew of people who work at pricey boutiques around town - folks who are expected to wear the latest fashions, and who purge their wardrobes as soon as the seasons change. Although she wouldn’t dish on the specific shops, we saw an awful lot of Stuart Weitzman, Cole Haan, and Barneys. Some of the tempting items: a Ralph Lauren violet lamb’s-wool sweater ($20), slim gray Calvin Klein pants ($20), plain-front Adrienne Vittadini rayon slacks ($22), and a gray Agnès B suit jacket ($28).
1394 Beacon Street, Brookline, (617) 277-3031.
Boomerangs. The AIDS Action Committee resale thrift shop has a rack in front with fabulous high-ticket items. Head here to buy a suit or sweater set and pretend you still have a job. 716 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, (617) 524-5120.
Maude Mango. The vintage-stocked store is presided over by the latest darling in Boston old-school attire, Maureen Dahill. Head here to pretend you’re Jackie O. 507 East Broadway, South Boston, (617) 464-1180.
Garment District. Head here to pretend you’re picking up an ensemble for an upcoming gig at famed former rock club the Rat. 200 Broadway, Cambridge, (617) 876-5230.
Second Time Around

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