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Getting Started in Consignment Shopping

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Jacqueline Gubiani

If you don’t know what to do with that top you bought this past spring, or those six-month-old pair of jeans that don’t fit like you thought they would, a consignment shop is a great option to give those barely worn clothes a new home.

If you’re interested in consignment, keep reading to find out how it works!

How Do I Start?

Before you bring a bag full of clothes to the first shop in your neighbourhood, research local stores to get an idea of who you’re consigning with. Do they sell vintage, luxury, or contemporary goods? The vibe will vary by owner, and researching will give you an idea of what the shop sells.

Another note to keep in mind is the time of year to consign certain items. A chunky cable knit won’t sell in mid-July. Even if it fits the store’s persona, it could be out of season. 

If you’re looking to sell second hand designer clothes, you’ll have more luck visiting a luxury consignment shop than a general consignment store. Designer Swap specializes in reselling pre-loved designer goods. We offer a range of clothing and designer accessories for less, like this Givenchy bag below or For Love and Lemons dress


Designer Swap deals with every item on a case by case basis. If we notice a certain brand or style is popular or trending, we’ll take similar items. If certain brands are not particularly popular at a certain time, we’ll let the consignor (you) know that the item might be hard to sell but we can definitely try!

If you want to know more about consignment with Designer Swap, find all your answers here!

What’s the Business Model?

Unlike donation or pawn shops, the owner of a consignment shop takes ownership of the item until it sells. When the item does sell, the owner pays a small fee to the person who brought in that item. Prices are set by the store. If you bring in an item specific to what the store sells, you’re more likely to get a better price for it.

Sometimes—and despite the store’s best efforts—even the best piece of clothing may not find a new home. If your clothing doesn’t sell, the store owner may discount it further or ask you to pick it up. Otherwise, they’ll donate the clothing.

Do I Get Paid?

Consignment shops take one of two pay approaches when compensating consignors. In the first scenario, the store owner gives the person a percentage of the price and profits the remaining amount. In the second option, the store owner pays the consignor upfront, pricing the item immediately even if it doesn’t sell. 

Can I Consign All My Clothes?

That depends on the item. Not every article of clothing is meant to have a second life. Before bringing it in, ask yourself if you would you invest in that piece of clothing. If you wouldn’t accept it, don’t consign it.

This sentiment is echoed by many store owners: Ensure your clothes are in stellar condition. They should be free of stains and rips, have all their buttons, and have functioning zippers. A better looking item can be sold at a higher price, which often results in a quick sale.

The acceptable state of the item depends what it is. Clothes must have a dry cleaning tag so customers know the item is clean. This is convenient, as most high-end clothing are dry clean only. 

Shoes should be in good condition, meaning no tears, funky odours, or damaged soles. Even though most worn shoes will have some wear on the leather, the right price can persuade a customer to buy them. Designer Swap has a great pair of Christian Louboutin pumps that meet all of these requirements.

If you’re dropping off handbags, be sure they’re free of any strong smells. As a customer, you don’t want to open a bag and inhale a bad odour. Like clothes, functionality is also important. The zippers should work, the straps aren’t broken, and the bag is free of stains and tears. 

Quality and brand go hand in hand. Authenticity is an important factor when determining what to consign. If you’re consigning second hand designer clothes, ensure you have the authenticity card or original receipt. Many stores will request one of the two in order to confirm your item isn’t counterfeit. If you don’t have either, the store can do its own authentication.

As a designer consignment shop, Designer Swap always informs consignors that if the item comes back as counterfeit, it will be confiscated and reported as illegal. If you’re unsure where the item came from, it will still be confiscated so it isn’t circulated within the community.

At the end of the day, every consignment shop operates differently, and some will be more lax or strict than others.

If you have some great pre-loved designer items you’d like to consign, contact Designer Swap to see if your items are the right fit. Happy shopping!

Are you a regular consignment shopper? Let us know in the comments!

Designer Swap is Canada’s online luxury consignment shop and Toronto-based fashion blog. Find gently-used and pre-loved authentic designer pieces to purchase and read about the newest fashion, beauty, and lifestyle trends. Make sure to check us out on Instagram and Facebook!

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Images courtesy unsplash.com, Jacqueline Gubiani

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