Whether it’s vintage, consignment or thrifting, secondhand shopping is the latest fashion trend that definitely isn’t going anywhere. A 2021 report from global resale brand ThredUp predicted that the resale industry is expected to grow 11 times faster than the broader retail clothing sector by 2025.
It’s no different in Toronto, where vintage stores pop up on the regular and thrifting is a major shopping source for residents. But the less-explored side of the secondhand world is the seller experience, especially when it comes to consignment, where sellers can make a pretty penny at some of Toronto’s top consignment shops.
With all the demand for second-hand clothing, consignment shops in the city say a closet cleanout might be just what you need to make enough for a comfortable new side gig.
Jenna Dick, store manager of consignment shop Second Nature Boutique at 514 Mt. Pleasant Rd., likens consignment to investing in real estate. “Anytime you buy a quality vintage piece, or you have something that’s sitting in your closet that’s one of those big labels, if you hold on to it for another year, realistically, you’re gonna get back in your pocket double than what you paid originally,” she says.
If you’re someone with a stack of old clothes that are just taking up space in your closet, consignment might be an ideal new side gig for you. Dick says Second Nature works seasonally, so the items they’re looking for right now include trench coats, spring floral dresses. Aside from the seasonal, she says designer handbags and jewelry and vintage jeans always do well in their shop. She also points to mini shoulder bags and cross-bodies, in the style of the Prada nylon bags, are making a huge comeback.
“Nine times out of 10, ladies will have one of those from years ago in their closet. They don’t even realize how much it’s worth now,” she says.
Owner Louise Cooper at The Cat’s Meow, at 180 Avenue Rd., echoes the designer bag trend. “Chanel is the answer to everything. It always does very well, all of the accessories,” she says. “And really anything with a logo.”
Another star trend of the season? 90s style. “Anything 90s is hot right now; those little bias cut slip dresses, they don’t have to have a great label, they just have to be good quality,” Cooper says.
For those looking to clean out their closet, Cooper says The Cat’s Meow has an online and in-person option. “You can send pictures to us for a no-obligation free quote,” she says.
Dick says Second Nature Boutique works with over 9,000 consigners, from repeat customers to individuals looking to do a one-and-done cleanout.
If you have a piece you’re hoping for a high return on, you can work with consignment shops to settle on a selling price that makes sense for what you’re expecting. “But if an item’s been sitting here a month and the seller is more flexible, I might put it on sale so that a client can get the money for it faster,” Dick says.
Another perk of consigning – once you know what sells, you know what to buy. “Always look at the fabric tag. Even some designers these days have gone downhill, so if you can find a good piece that is 100 per cent silk or 100 per cent cashmere, you’ll know what you’re getting,” Dick explains.
She says this even extends to the value of vintage bags. “Old Chanel bags used real gold, but the new ones don’t. That doesn’t mean it’s worth less, because the market rises. But having that vintage one in good shape that’s got the 14-karat gold clasp is going to be worth a lot more than the one of today,” Dick says.