Luxury fashion market expert Lorena Shiff has spent more than a decade observing industry trends and selling high-end wares at low prices through her online aftermarket boutique, Lorena's Worth.
While shopping habits have changed over the years with the boom of e-commerce, in the consignment fashion market—the buying and selling of gently-used apparel, footwear and accessories—men remain practically clueless about its potential.
"Men should know how to buy consignment because, for men, it's the best market—it's literally like finding a treasure," Shiff told Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview. "Men's fashion is not changing as much as women. You know your size and go to buy consignment at 20 to 30 percent of its value."
Part of why consignment buying and selling for men is such a great value is because men's style trends and preferences change very little over time, compared to women.
"When men shop, it's more to the point and it's very specific: 'I need jeans or T-shirt.' For women, when they go shopping they go back home with half of the store."
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Here, Shiff shares her expertise and insider advice for men who want to buy or sell consignment fashion.
AJC: What should a beginner know?
LS: "If you're a beginner, try and know your size, measure yourself so you know what you are looking for and make sure you know the style you like and then find a reputable seller that has a clear return policy. Make sure it has multiple photos you can see the front, back and size."
AJC: Is it better to shop consignment at brick and mortar stores or online boutiques?
LS: "The good thing about online is that it's easier to shop, plus all of them pretty much offer expedited shipping. If you need something for work and go to a brick and mortar store, you have to go through the items one by one, but if you are looking for Armani ties online—you have the option to search for the exact brand, so it's easier and faster, and usually men like this mathematical order — it's more appealing to men to shop online."
AJC: What are some concerns men should have about the quality of a purchase?
LS: Find a reputable seller — places with feedback and ratings. If you're not sure and the seller offers a money-back guarantee, you have nothing to lose. If they offer only two images, it could be stock photos from the company. If you go to my store online you can tell [it's authentic because] we turn the tie around, show labels.
AJC: What are some fashion items that are good ideas for an investment pieces for men?
LS: "Ties that are high-end cost anywhere from $300-400 and up, but consignment you can find it around $75. Belts, especially exotic leather belts that people spend thousands, they are usually sold for 10 percent of the retail price. Cufflinks for shirts, they are a huge investment because people buy them once or twice and never wear them again, and they feel like they've got hidden money in their closet."
AJC: What can you do to increase the value of apparel or accessories before turning it over for consignment selling?
LS: "Common sense is to have it cleaned, ironed and bring it in on a hanger. If you have accessories that came with it — the box, the bag and the receipt — that always helps. Realize sooner than later that you don't want the item because the closer to the purchase date, the better price. If you sell it that season you can get 50 perfect of its value, but if you wait for the following season you can get 20 percent, maybe 30."
AJC: What are the best brands for resale value?
LC: "The No. 1 brand is Hermes — all their ties and belts, they are timeless pieces; the belts and buckles are investments. For suits or clothing: Valentino and Versace and Dolce & Gabanna (black label) keep their values. Also, Brioni ties and shirts are very reliable brands for men."