Along with my love of skincare (and vanity), I also love beautiful clothing. But as a person who knows that excess consumerism is both unnecessary and bad for the environment, I want to be conscious about how I indulge myself. And while I’m all for organic cotton and bamboo fabrics, I don’t think anything can be quite as sustainable as reuse. So, shopping for vintage has been my personal way of decreasing buyer’s remorse. But while I like the second-hand stores in Kensington Market and on Queen West, sometimes its hard to find a suit for work or dress for an evening event without the risk of looking costumey.
Well, thank heavens for designer consignment stores! These shops, where people sell of their own special pieces, you can find more upscale items and avoid making everyday into a Mad Men theme party. So, if you’re like me and want to dress well without the waste, here are my favorite consignment stores in Toronto.
1. L’Elegante – 132 Cumberland St.
In the heart of Yorkville, this was the first designer consignment store I ever went to. What I love about it is that its very convenient to get to (steps from Bay Station) and of course, its so close to our Yoekville spa that I can pop in on my lunch break. I’ve done particularly well finding jackets here. My favorite is a Theory trench coat which is checkered very tiny squared of brown, beige and black. Another plus about consignment stores, is that they often have things that are just a little bit more unique. I’ve also bought a black leather jacket here with a huge leather frill up the zipper and around the collar: very dramatic, and a peice I’ve gotten tons of compliments on. The problem with L’Elegante is I think they’re clients and cosigners are more mature so that the stock can be a little mature as well. Lucky for me, I love old Chanel, pearl earrings, cashmere and tweed. But if you want something edgier, I’d go to Remix Clothing.
2. Remix Clothing – The Burroughes Building Art Space 639 Queen Street West, 2nd floor
Being on Queen West, this consignment store has much more modern stock. It also has a great selection of dramatic accessories and fashion-forward shoes (I saw a pair of patent leather wedges that look like they were made for Lady Gaga). Many items are actually from this season, and the sales staff have told me that some of their pieces are left overs from style shoots. My favorite purchase here was an Herve Leger dress that fits me like a glove. The price was less than a quarter of the original, and it was a garment that was currently in stores. There was a tiny stain on the collar of the dress and Remix was wonderful enough to re-dry clean it for me, and now you can hardly notice it. Talk about service! I’ve also bought a BCBG dress for work from this store, which still had the tags on it! I’m glad I could make use of it instead of letting it go to waste.
3. Extoggery – 1640 Avenue Rd.Toronto
This place is huge in comparison to most consignment stores and I always find something I want. They have a whole Lululemon section (I scored a cute Lulu tennis dress from here) and they have both men’s and women’s wear. My favorite purchase from this uptown resale mecca is a Narcisco Rodrigues black button up shirt that I wear to work…actually I’m wearing it right now! The only downside to this place? Its location. Unless you have a car or live near Lawrence and Avenue Rd, its a bit of a trek.
4. Revival Couture – 363 Eglinton Avenue West
Probably the most luxurious of the bunch is Vintage Couture. I haven’t actually bought anything here yet but have my eye on a black silk satin Moschino Jumpsuit. This place is truly couture, but since there are not that many other customers, you do feel a little pressured to buy (and awkward when you don’t…I was politely reminded that the jumpsuit is their cheapest item in-store). The other stores carry a mix of upscale designer pieces with mid-range brands, but this store only stocks the creme de la creme. I have found three dresses here that I have considered for my wedding dress, but the issue has been fit (as it sometimes is when buying second hand). My most recent wedding candidate from was a white Dior strapless gown, that Eva Mendes wore to the Golden Globes (if its good enough for Eva, its good enough for me). But in this case, second hand doesn’t mean cheap, and this lil number was marked down from $6000 to $3000. I will say that while one of the sales girls helping me has been very warm and nice, others have made me feel a bit like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, and that’s one of my pet peeves. Though, they do have amazing shoes here – tons of Louboutin – and in great condition, but again, while they may be half the price, keep in mind C.L’s go for around a grand brand new!
5. Off the Cuff – 5 Broadway Avenue
Lastly, if you are looking for men’s wear, this is my go to place. The first gift of apparel I ever bought Ben was from here….Lol, his first intro into “I love you, now lets do something about that wardrobe!”. It happened to be a gorgeous leather belt with rustic metal woven into it..kind of industrial looking. It was so nice that not only did Ben love it, but my fashionisto friend who I showed it to for approval tried to get me to give it to him instead! This store is just around the corner from our Yonge and Eglinton spa, and I have gone in so many times that the owner, Lee, has become a good friend of mine. Lee offers excellent service, and even sometimes keeps pieces aside for me to show Ben. This has led ownership of a gorgeous navy Jil Sander blazer and Ben’s fav pair of Nudie Jeans.
As you can see, I do love to shop – but when I do I try to do it in the most responsible way possible. Its easy when there’s so many places to find Ecouture…trust me, this was my short list.