Thursday, November 6, 2008

Recycle, Reuse

I'm really not a fan of used clothes.  I find that vintage, unless you're talking Resurrection-level merchandise, is generally a euphemism for musty and outdated, and I had moved past the whole second-hand jeans phenomenon by the time I was sixteen.  So I was initially dismissive of the concept of a consignment store.

But the fact that it took me ten minutes to realize I was in a consignment shop the first time I entered one in Manhattan speaks volumes about my ignorance.  I had entered a whole new world, one that was miles and miles (and dollars and dollars) away from the consignment stores I had gone to as a teenager in Berkeley.  The clothes, all of which were major high-end brands,  were barely worn, and the prices (although not cheap) induced neither hysterics nor cardiac arrest.

Although I can't say that I've conducted an even remotely exhaustive survey of all consignment stores in New York City, I do have a favorite:  INA.  I hit upon it early which I guess is why I've never looked too far beyond it.  Although I hear that the Upper East Side charity shops are the real jackpot...Spence-Chapin Thrift Shop, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Thrift Shop...these are the repositories of last season's upper east side me INA is just a little younger, a little more downtown so I've stuck with it.

And the costume people from Sex and the City agreed.  A few years ago, once the series had ended, they sold the entire wardrobe at INA.  Women of New York lost their minds and stood in line for HOURS:

There are a few different locations, one of which is dedicated solely to men's clothing (the Mott Street location).  They're all worth a visit, but I always seem to gravitate towards the shop on Prince Street.  It's probably the biggest location, and I almost always find something there that I want.  In fact just yesterday I was in and came across a Marc Jacobs bag for $310, a pair of Gucci knee-high boots for $450, a Louis Vuitton handbag for $650, and the piece de resistance, an Hermes coat for $1,000.  

Now I won't pretend that I'm an Hermes shopper, nor that I know how much an Hermes coat costs.  But I'm guessing what, like five, six grand?  Insane, by the way, I realize.  Although the excellent book  Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster claims that Hermes is pretty much the only luxury brand that still makes products of high enough quality to justify the crazy prices.  Soooo, with a discount of 80%...well, you do the math and justify if you wish.  

But as much as I rhapsodize about the high end stuff, there are a ton of options, all quality brands, that cost as little as $80.  So if you share my squeamishness about used clothes, this is the place that will get you past it.  I still can't do the used shoes though.  Not sure that's ever going to change.   

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