The Ins and Outs of Shopping Consignment

Collete's, Southampton Village.
Collete's, Southampton Village.

While stores like Intermix, Scoop, and Blue & Cream may draw most of the hype, Collette Designer Consignment arguably packs more designer power than all of them combined in its various East End shops. Brimming with rare and highly-coveted finds from designers like Chanel and Hermès, owner Tisha Collette’s high-end, second-hand boutiques also stock home items, in addition to clothing and accessories. I spoke with the consignment connoisseur to find out more about investing wisely.

Have you always been a consignment shopper?
Yes and no. I’ve always enjoyed finding something special at a great price. However, I have found most consignment stores to lack merchandising. Most are dark and slightly unkempt.

What made you decide to open your stores? Why in the Hamptons?
I love beautiful things and at the time my friends had beautiful things to sell. I have lived in the Hamptons for 15 years. It’s my home base and what better place to open my first store? I’m fortunate to have the best of both worlds—city and beach all year around. After the summer winds down I can actually enjoy the peaceful beach lifestyle.

Where do most of your pieces come from?
Stylish women and men who have great taste. Thankfully there are many in the tri-state area.

Can you tell us about the authentication process when it comes to designer items?
We have a team of experts who authenticate valuable designer merchandise. Each piece is scrutinized prior to hitting the floor. Our experts all have past experience in fashion, design, retail and styling. Collectible fashion has become a much larger part of the retail landscape. Experts pop up accordingly.

Can you tell us about some of your favorite items you currently have in store?
Currently I love our Chanel jewelry collection. For me the most special Chanel pieces are the most timeless. Chic opera-length pearls, 18K gold plated CC earrings. Classic examples of Chanel design. These pieces never go out of style. Plus our shoes are amazing; clients obsess over Christian Louboutin, YSL, Chanel and Manolo Blahnik. Hermès Birkin bags are always a favorite as well.

Can you tell us about some of your biggest “gets” for the store?
When one of our best clients consigns more clothing, shoes and bags than Bergdorf Goodman has in stock.

What makes those clients come to you?
Reputation and word of mouth. We offer premier service, closet editing, and styling. Our goal is to build longterm relationships with our clients.

How do you stay competitive as more and more trend-driven designer stores open?
We offer the best merchandise in the most beautiful environment. We provide excellent customer service, whether shopping or consigning with us. We do our best to source product and literally work around the clock to expedite client requests.

Any designers that consistently do well and make for good investments?
Chanel, Hermès, Alaia, Givenchy, Lanvin, Balenciaga, McQueen, Oscar, YSL and Pucci are all great investment pieces.

Any that people might not have heard of that are worth looking into?
These are some of our favorite new designers: Reed Krakoff, Erdem, Tabitha Simmons, Jenny Packman, Eddie Borgom and Haider Ackermann. I believe there will be a following for many of these collections.

What are trends people should invest in?
Fall/winter is about leather, lace, gold, structure and prints. Women buy what works. Structured bags with minimal detail are very popular right now. Think Céline, Dior, Saint Laurent, Fendi and, of course, Chanel. However, timeless rules trends. We focus on collectible brands and key pieces for everyday. Smart wardrobe choices are my favorite purchases.

How much wear do you consider to be OK when shopping consignment?
We strive to have the very best product in the very best condition. Before product hits the floor it’s authenticated by our team. That said, it’s possible to spend less on a piece and then refurbish it. This method is not for everyone, but for many clients it provides a less expensive path to owning luxury merchandise.

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