R5 (Re)cycled Couture Clothes

While smart stylistas are well aware of the secret thrill of consignment shopping, economic and environmental concerns (re-sale shopping is, after all, a form of recycling) have lately made it an especially popular retail sport. A consignment shop newbie? Regina Murray, owner of the upscale resale shops Déjà Vu in Tarrytown and Déjà Vu Again in Port Chester, tells us how to snag way-cheaper-than-retail Chanels, Hermes, and Pradas—as well as convert some of the contents of our own closets into cash.

What’s the arrangement you have with consignors?
It’s a fifty-fifty split—the consignor and the shop each get fifty percent of the selling price.

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How much do customers save?
Our prices are anywhere from sixty-five to ninety percent off retail.

What criteria do you use when deciding whether to accept someone’s clothes?
We only accept items no more than a year old, unless it’s vintage couture, or made by designers like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci. And everything must be showroom-ready—freshly dry-cleaned, no snags, tears, rips, or stains, and scent-free.

What should a consignor do to make sure her items sell?
Bring them in at the beginning of the season so they’ll get exposure, and remove any plastic dry-cleaning bags as soon as items are cleaned; the bags can turn a white item yellow and leave an unpleasant scent on the garment.

What won’t you accept?
Traditional business suits— everyone is so dressed down and eclectic now—and wedding gowns. I had a six-thousand-dollar Vera Wang that I had to sell for twenty-five dollars. Brides want their own gowns; it’s a very personal purchase.

What should one never buy?
A fur coat that has any rip in the fur itself. It means the fur skin is too dried out and, even if you repair one spot, the fur will just keep on ripping. Also, never buy an exotic skin handbag if the handle is cracking unless you’re willing to spend at least three hundred dollars to replace it. Finally, any vintage item that is too tight. These fabrics are forty to fifty years old and, if the fit is too tight, it’ll rip.

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What should one always snatch up?
Anything Chanel or Hermes—their items are timeless—and any top level of any designer, like Ralph Lauren’s Purple Label and Giorgio Armani’s Black Label.

What’s the most memorable item you’ve ever sold?
A black alligator Hermes Kelly handbag. It retailed for eighteen-thousand five-hundred dollars at that time and we sold it for seven thousand five-hundred.
 

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