Consignment Shopping To Stay Stylish In A Down Economy

By Jaclyn Cashman   |   Wednesday, October 19, 2011
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Oct. 19. 2011

Watch the segment that aired on Oct. 17 on WGBH's Greater Boston.

BOSTON — Most shoppers, even label lovers, agree that clothing doesn't give you a great return on your investment, only your sense of style.

To stay stylish in this rugged economy, people are turning more to secondhand clothing.

Sam Hollister is a realtor by trade, but her passion is finding great shopping deals. She found a consignment shop in her neighborhood a few years ago and boasts that 60 percent of her clothing is used. She says she turns over her collection by bartering.

Hollister said, "If I sell a 300-dollar dress I am probably only getting less than 100 dollars for it, but I use that credit to buy another dress so it is kind of like operating at zero, which is great."

The Closet on Newbury Street has been in business for 34 years. Kevin Kish started the business in his living room and explains how the process works today.

Kish said, "It is good to have an appointment. Once someone does that, we ask them to bring in their 15 best pieces. We price it for them and mail checks every month."

The question everyone wants to know is how much can they make.

Kish said, "The contract says we set the price, but we do listen to our consigners. We don't want them walking away or being upset with the clothing that we sell."

Generally, an article of clothing sells for half or a third of the original price. If the item doesn't sell in 30 days the price drops by 25 percent and 50 percent after 60 days.

Each consignment shop offers different deals. The Closet gives you half the sale price, while Second Time Around writes a check to the consigner for 40 percent of the profit.

Another option for the cost conscious shopper is to rent a dress for a Friday night party. A company out of Harvard Business School called Rent the Runway came up with the idea.

Rent the Runway allows women to rent designer dresses and accessories starting at $40 for dresses and $10 for accessories. Letitia Tandean is a BU Student and an RTR Rep.

Tandean said, "I know a lot of college students and I know we can't get a new dress every week. It is a way to expand your wardrobe without really expanding it."

Tandean doesn't get paid in dollars but credit toward a free rental.

Tandean said, "If we get girls to sign up we get dress credits and if we get a girl to rent a dress we get more credits."

RTR lets you rent the dresses for 4 or 8 days. You don't have to dryclean it once you are done — just pop it in a mailbox.

If you don't want to share the profit with a consignment shop, you can also try your luck with eBay. However, it is very important to post photos that really show off the clothing and provide a quality description. The better the photos you post, the greater the profit. You should share your eBay links on Facebook and Twitter to publicize what you are selling.

Boston Fashion Week Review

By Jared Bowen   |   Thursday, September 29, 2011
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Sept. 30, 2011

Watch the video segment that aired on September 27 on WGBH's Greater Boston.

BOSTON — The Tent at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel is the new, pulsating heart of Boston Fashion Week. For three runway shows on one night, local designers take fashion forward.

One of the hallmarks of Boston Fashion Week is that it offers opportunity for emerging designer talent. Susanne Hatje is the general manager at the Mandarin Oriental Boston. "We have people who got a chance who might not have been seen and give them the platform in a beautiful environment, a beautiful setting, which is high quality and show it to the public. And maybe you see something which you have not seen before," Hatje said.

For the first time in Boston Fashion Week's history, much of the runway action happens at The Tent at the Mandarin Oriental: A 3,000 square foot tent evocative of shows in New York, London and Milan. Twenty designers will unveil their collections here — each presenting 15-minute shows offering around 24 different looks.

Designer Victoria Dominguez-Bagu was the first to show her collection. "I have a little bit of '70s inspiration, I was around in the late 1970s and I just love the pop of color with the teal and the yellow. I want people to see the collection and say, 'I can wear this. I'd really love to wear it because it's so sophisticated and classy and it makes you feel good when you wear it,'" Dominguez-Bagu said.

A colorful piece from designer Victoria Dominguez-Bagu's collection. (via Greater Boston)

Backstage where all the hair and makeup was happening, each of the designers that was showing during Boston Fashion Week had met with their stage, lighting, sound, hair and makeup people to decide what their looks were going to be for the week.

Next up on the runway, showing his couture collection, was one of Boston's most iconic designers, Daniel Faucher.

"I wanted to take you through all the different aspects of a woman's dressing, for special occasion, from a fun dinner out and a luncheon, to obviously the ultimate walk down the aisle as a bride," Faucher said.

One of the striking things about Faucher's collection is the drama he creates for a woman just in the architecture of the dresses he designs. "That's actually what we sort of pride ourselves on. I'm a technician and it's true couture. It's built from the inside out and there's nothing that looks like that or fits like that and the dress walks on its own. And the woman's in there," said Faucher.

And just how much work goes into one of his pieces? Faucher said the average dress takes between 100-150 hours to create. "But the dresses with elaborate beadwork go much more," Faucher added.

For the final runway show, changing fashion from the top, was designer Marie Galvin and her Galvinized Headware collection.

Galvinized Headware offered a deliciously divergent show drawing its own über chic audience. The line's blend of grace and sculpture suggests that every woman should be wearing hats. Its designer disappeared before I could grab an interview — we'll excuse her though. Perhaps after such a successful show, she had nothing left to give.

Susanne Hatje thought the night was a success. "The pieces which came out, the craftsmanship, the elegance, it was flawless. There were so many pieces where you said 'please, I want to wear it, I want to be part of it,'" Hatje said.

For Faucher's part, he said he was relieved it was over. "Oh my God you have no idea! I hate runway shows. They're just too stressful!"

Visit Britain in the 1920s

Thursday, January 10, 2013
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An Evening Inspired by Downton Abbey

Monday, February 27, 2012
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Feb. 27, 2012
Thanks to volunteer photographer Sibyl Senters for these images.

BOSTON — More than 300 Downton Abbey fans came to One Guest Street last year to show their support of WGBH and enjoy An Evening Inspired by Downton Abbey. Partygoers came in costume and enjoyed food, fashion, and music from the Edwardian Era.
Susanne Simpson, senior producer at Masterpiece, welcomed guests, who learned about the styles of dress typical of the British aristocracy in the Edwardian era. Lasell College professors Lynn Blake, chair of the Fashion Department, and Jill Carey Arnow, professor and curator of the Lasell Fashion Collection spoke about that period in fashion and authentic dresses and accessories from the collection graced the WGBH atrium.
Massachusetts College of Art & Design students, wearing modern interpretations of Edwardian clothing, treated guests to a fashion show moderated by professor John Di Stefano. 
To add to the fun, the New England Brass Band performed in WGBH’s Fraser studio.
We know Downton Abbey fans will appreciate tips on how to recreate a six-course meal typical of an elegant British table. See the recipes below, as well as advice on where to purchase wines served at the event.

Try these recipes at home.

Where to buy wines featured at WGBH

Sherry provided by MS Walker
Available at most liquor stores

Chablis provided by Busa Wine & Spirits is available at the following Busa Wine & Spirit locations:

133 Mass. Ave. Lexington, MA
345 Main St. Reading, MA
180 B Cambridge St. Burlington, MA

Port provided by Quinta do Noval
Noval Black is available in the Boston area at the following locations:
Federal Wine & Spirits, Boston
Brothers Super Liquors, Boston
Bin Ends, Braintree, MA
Whole Foods Market, Dedham, MA
Vin Bin, Marlborough, MA
Beacon Hill Wine & Gourmet, Melrose, MA
Market Wine & Spirits, Salem, MA
Kappy’s Liquor Store with locations in Medford, Fitchburg, Danvers, Peabody, MA

Center Stage

Tuesday, August 24, 2010
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About the Authors
Jared Bowen Jared Bowen
Jared Bowen is WGBH’s Emmy Award-winning Executive Editor and Host for Arts. 


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