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How clothing consignment can convert old fashion to big dollars

I Miss You’s men’s consignment store in Toronto.

Cleaning out your closet? Caitlin Agnew explains how to get a sartorial (and financial) second life out of your clothes

If out with the old, in with the new is your resolution for 2018, you may want to take a good hard look at your wardrobe. Chances are there's more than just a few pieces in there you never wear that are of value. As the resale economy becomes increasingly mainstream, designer consignment boutiques are becoming more commonplace on the web and IRL. The RealReal, an online luxury consignment seller, opened a permanent bricks-and-mortar storefront in SoHo this November.

In Toronto, Julie Yoo has been trading in fashion consignment for about 20 years, 13 of them through her boutique I Miss You on the trendy Ossington strip. With a focus on luxury brands (Yoo says she specializes in Chanel), I Miss You is a treasure trove of luxury clothing and accessories, and some of her clients sell hundreds of items every season. "It's become a part of regular life, clean out your closet and take it to resale," she says.

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The first step to tackling your own wardrobe leftoever is going through your closet (some consignment stores like I Miss You or services like Handled can help with the cull). Once you've decided what to sell, make sure your garments are in proper condition. They may be gently loved, but should be cleaned before you take them to your seller. For dress shirts, keep a look out for shirt collars and underarms that have stains, as those are not fit for resale.

The first thing Yoo inspects upon arrival is the label. Beyond those highly covetable runway pieces, contemporary labels like Acne Studios, Alexander Wang and Tanya Taylor are also appealing. In terms of an item's age, Yoo advises that anything more than five years old that hasn't reached yet vintage status will be a tough sell. "It's in that middle ground where it's just out of style and it's not worth anything," she says.

Consider also the category of your items. One-size-fits-all accessories like jewellery, bags and sunglasses are more accessible to a wider audience, while things like pants and shoes will have a limited buyer. At her neighbouring men's-wear boutique I Miss You Man, Yoo rarely accepts suiting because its tailored nature makes it hard to find a perfect match. "We won't reject a Tom Ford suit, but we do prefer casual contemporary," she says.

Like traditional retailers, resell boutiques tend to follow the two main fashion seasons of Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer. To give your items a better shot at getting sold, Yoo advises bringing them in at the very beginning of the season, which means January, February or even as early as December for Spring/Summer and June, July or August for Fall/Winter.

Once your goods have sold, you'll be paid a percentage of the final selling price, which is determined by your seller's expertise in the resale market. Each seller will have their own policies on this as well as what they do with unsold garments. And on payday, why not pay it forward with a consignment shopping spree? "Shopping through a catalogue of items from different seasons allows you to buy things that are not just what's out there this season," says Yoo. "It gives you greater creativity with your outfits."

THIS WEEK'S STYLE HAPPENINGS

  • As the Spring/Summer presentations get underway, contributing fashion editor Odessa Paloma Parker will be reporting live from London Fashion Week Men’s. From Jan. 6 to 8, stay tuned to the Globe Style Advisor Instagram account @globestyle for the latest in men’s-wear trends from the British runways.
  • Toronto designer Philip Sparks is hosting his annual sample sale this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. At his Junction studio (130 Cawthra Ave.), find samples of stock suits, shirts, boots, shoes and accessories at up to 90 per cent off. For more information, visit www.philipsparks.com.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow’s digital lifestyle brand Goop has now expanded internationally with Canadian shipping, the first time that the website will offer shipping outside of the United States. Products available will include Goop’s own lines of luxury skincare, apparel and fragrance, as well as a selection of multi-brand products from the likes of Stella McCartney, Rochas and Rodin, as well as exclusive items like the Goop x Christian Louboutin capsule collection. For more information, visit www.goop.com.
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