Consignment shops for designer fashion goods get a boost from the economic slump

Morgan Ward, assistant professor of marketing at SMU, talks about a study by IBISWorld Inc. and the prosperity of consignment shops for designer fashion goods.

Lisa Liddane
Register Writer

The stack of monogrammed Louis Vuitton trunks inside the front window draws double-takes from passersby. Inside, shoppers stroll gleaming white granite floors as they browse tomato-red Christian Dior “Cannage” platforms, Manolo Blahnik pumps, a Gucci sheath and Chanel handbags.

You wouldn't know it unless you examined the clothing and shoes up close, but Newport Coast's new Affluent Goods is a consignment boutique. Unlike a typical resale store, though, the shop purposely comes across as a high-end retailer that you might find at Fashion Island, down to the printed bar code price tags and spare decor.

The shop is part of a new wave of designer resale boutiques in Orange County that are raising the bar of luxury fashion consignment.

Unlike consignment stores of previous decades that carried designer items, these boutiques do not have signs that state that the merchandise is pre-owned. All of them have an e-commerce presence to tap a broader market.

They often carry some hard-to-get designer items that are highly coveted in fashionista circles and priced to bring in top dollars.

The economic recession rekindled the demand for secondhand goods and led to considerable growth in pre-owned merchandise nationwide, according to a 2012 report on used-goods stores in the U.S. by IBISWorld Inc., an industry analysis company. . .

The resale of pre-owned designer fashion in upscale consignment stores can be beneficial to the signature boutiques for Hermes, Chanel and others.

“From the perspective of the brand, it allows more consumers to have access to their products and display the brand logos,” said Morgan Ward, assistant professor of marketing at Southern Methodist University.

“Moreover, it allows a new, less financially endowed customer to potentially have access to the product. This may be good for the brand or it may be detrimental for the brand, depending on whether they want to expand their consumer base into lower income brackets.”

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