By Maria Halkias
The Dallas Morning News.
Celebrity consignment is heading to Dallas.
Would you like to buy a gown that has gone to the Grammys on a rock star’s wife or to President Barack Obama’s inauguration?
Clothes that professional athletes’ wives have never worn with the tags still on them? Evening wear that Sharon Stone has been seen in, or a leather jacket from Sienna Miller’s closet?
Or how about a purple Hermès Birkin bag like the one Khloe Kardashian has posed with a bunch of times? You could have bought one for $18,000 at a recent party at the Joule Hotel in Dallas to introduce a new retailer to town.
Construction has started on To Be Continued, an upscale consignment boutique next door to Eatzi’s in the Pavilion on Lovers Lane. (Toys Unique moved down the street to Inwood Village.)
The store will open in October, said co-owner Mitch Sayare, a former biotech CEO who started To Be Continued with his wife, Chrissy Sayare, a former high-tech executive recruiter. They have a $700,000 budget for the interior of the 3,500-square-foot store, he said.
The lighting alone will cost about $200,000.
“We’re creating an environment where consigners can feel confident and safe that we’re taking care of their merchandise,” Sayare said.
The new boutique is taking advantage of an attitude shift in the way wealthy people shop. You could call it justified spending. Some luxury shoppers are becoming active fashion traders. They buy, hold and sell clothing and accessories to fund the designer wardrobes they crave.
The designer resale business is growing fast enough for Dallas-based Neiman Marcus to hook up with luxury consignment e-commerce site The Real Real.
Last month, the two companies began offering customers a program that pays consigners for items in Neiman Marcus gift cards and keeps the cycle going. No one seems to know how big the total luxury consignment business is, but The Real Real says it plans to double its sales this year to $200 million.
Last week, Saks Fifth Avenue started offering a similar deal to customers with The Real Real. And The Real Real held a Kardashians closet sale last weekend with items ranging from $35 to $3,500. It has had similar sales with John Legend and Dwyane Wade.
Dallas has been a hot spot for luxury consignment for a long time, said Irene Mylan, owner of the Clothes Circuit, an upscale resale shop on Sherry Lane just south of Preston Center.
The resale business isn’t new, but now everyone wants in, she said. “We were flying under the radar a long time.”
What’s fueling luxury consignment?
Even wealthy shoppers have a clothing budget, and how often they buy a new handbag or piece of new jewelry can depend on how much they are selling, said Max Brownawell, senior specialist for Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, which got into the used handbag business about five years ago.
Hermès limits the sale of its Birkin bags, for example. Most customers can only buy two per year, so that produces a strong secondary market of people left out of the loop. Some Birkins, the jeweled-adorned ones, have sold for more than $200,000 — as much as a house in the suburbs. But that’s an extreme. To Be Continued said its average sale is $400, and contemporary dress can be bought for $75.
“Consignment is cropping up everywhere, reflecting a sea change around how women think about their wardrobes,” Brownawell said.
Heritage’s top-selling accessories brands are Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Chanel, and those items can sell for close to retail or as much as 15 percent above retail, Brownawell said. “A lot of our clients don’t recommend us to their friends because they want to keep us a secret.
“The majority of the goods are coming from unseen, independently wealthy, powerful women,” he said. “They’re not all people you’ve ever heard or read about, and they are wives of powerful men. They’re also buyers but are discreet.”
Social media is important to the consignment trend, Chrissy Sayare said, because for celebrities who are photographed daily, outfits and gowns become obsolete after one wearing.
The Sayares moved from Boston to Arizona a few years ago and started building the consignment business by soliciting items from their far-flung network of friends and contacts in New York, Boston, Athens, London and Paris.
“I saw a burgeoning group of people in my shopping sphere, people who would never step into a consignment store, recognizing they owned products with value,” Chrissy Sayare said. She put out a request and received more than 3,000 pieces over the course of 21/2 months. “We had to get a warehouse,” she said.
The couple opened their first store in Scottsdale in January 2014, right next to Paradise Valley, the wealthiest city in Arizona. The Dallas store is only the couple’s second.
The über-rich won’t buy secondhand, but plenty of other people are happy to buy in, Chrissy Sayare said, including aspirational shoppers and rich people who know that some things in resale have never been worn.
Mylan founded Clothes Circuit in 1983 and has expanded twice, now operating out of 7,500 square feet of space. She has a strong customer base that’s growing and recently increased drop-off times behind the store to accommodate her busy clients.
Early on, most of her customers were “trying to make do,” but now that customer base has widened, Mylan said. “People are proud that they saved money.”
The business also benefits from a backlash against disposable clothing, she said. Clothes Circuit also offers a broad price range, dividing the store into designer, contemporary and basics sections.
“Everyone can’t spend $800 on an outfit, but they can come to our store and buy those beautifully crafted pieces,” she said.
Mylan isn’t worried about competition coming in.
“There’s a lot of fine clothing in Dallas, and we’ll all do well,” she said. “People in Dallas like to look good.”
Follow Maria Halkias on Twitter at @MariaHalkias.
DALLAS CONSIGNMENT SHOPS
The Consignment Association of Dallas operates a website of current shops at consignmentdallas.com that includes stores by category and an interactive map. Here’s a sample of women’s upscale clothing stores:
Anonymously Yours, 9310 Forest Lane, Dallas
Clothes Circuit, 6105 Sherry Lane, Dallas
Clotheshorse Anonymous, 11661 Preston Road, Dallas
Closet Revival, 3405 Midway, Plano
My Secret Closet, 17390 Preston Road, Dallas
Revente Resale, 5400 E. Mockingbird Lane, Dallas
To Be Continued opens at 5600 W. Lovers Lane in Dallas in October
SOURCE: Dallas Morning News research