May 29, 2015

Closet Cleanout: Top San Francisco Consignment Shops

Cece's Closet is a gem of a consignment option in Noe Valley.

The New Year is always a time that leaves me itching to root through my closet, hanger by hanger, to remove any space-hogging garments that I either can’t – or simply don’t – wear. And since having my son 16 months ago ushered in a very necessary wardrobe revamp, I have more clothes that deserve better homes than ever before. Had-it tossers go in the giveaway bag, but items in decent, great or brand new shape are ones I try to sell, trade or consign first.

San Francisco has a wealth of options for consigning new and used apparel and accessories for women, men and children that not only offer a way to bring in a little money on things you no longer need or use, but also are also great places to hunt down new clothes for less. Another reason to love consignment? You’ll often find apparel and accessories that are of-the-moment and in style, as many of the people who run consignment stores keep a close eye on what’s popular and take in items accordingly, but they won’t be what’s on the racks in every store right now – and that can make for a more interesting, unique wardrobe. Last but not least, buying secondhand is, plain and simple, a greener way to shop.

When you’re about to do your next closet clean out or want new wearables for less, consider these San Francisco consignment shops. With any luck, you’ll get more space at home, some cool new pieces and a little money out of your efforts. In most cases, you’ll need to contact the store for an appointment if you’d like to consign.

  • High-End, Designer Consignment

If you’ve got luxury brands that you’d like to unload, try these shops:

Sui Generis: Head to these twin Castro shops for men and women if you have items on hand by major designer labels that are in pristine condition. Rare vintage and couture are among the gems the stores’ buyers frequently manage to obtain from their roster of consignors. While Chanel, Versace, Prada and Oscar de la Renta grace the racks, you will also find lower-priced items from labels such as Banana Republic and Zara in the women’s shop and a solid selection of men’s denim, men’s sneakers, sunglasses and belts among the finds.

The Real Real: This online consignment site specializes in selling women’s apparel and accessories by high-end, designer brands in a flash-sale format that’s reminiscent of Gilt Groupe or Rue La La. If you’d like to consign items, you call them and speak to a styling consultant to start the process. They’ll determine what items are a match for their shoppers, and you can either ship them in for free or schedule a pick-up if you live in the Bay Area, Los Angeles or New York and have over 10 items. Another perk for consignors: the site offers 60 percent back on the sale price, compared to the usual 50 percent or less that many consignment shops offer.

Cris: This Russian hill shop has long been a go-to for those seeking to consign designer brand women’s apparel, as well as those looking for a good deal on labels such as Marc Jacobs, Prada and others. The setting is much more like that of a high-end boutique than a consignment, re-sale shop, and the owner – Cris – is known for being knowledgeable about brands, current pricing and fashion.

Simply Chic: High-end handbags are the focus at this Cow Hollow shop and online store. If you’ve got handbags (they specialize in Chanel and Louis Vuitton), women’s accessories or shoes by designer labels, this store will either allow you to consign them or will buy them outright. A consignor perk: your items will be listed for free in both the shop’s eBay site and its online boutique, as well as offered for sale in the store.

  • General Consignment

Not everyone has perfect-condition Prada hiding out in their closets. The shops below accept and sell a wide variety of brands, labels and apparel.

Cece’s Closet: This small shop in Noe Valley is a neighborhood gem of a consignment store. Run by Cece, the store never fails to turn up a great deal on something during my visits. She’s especially welcoming to new consignors and accepts both vintage and contemporary pieces in good condition in a variety of sizes.

Designer Consigner: Located on Sacramento in Laurel/Presidio Heights, this shop is known for frequently having upscale labels and great condition accessories brought in by the well-heeled folks who live in the surrounding neighborhood. Because of that, people from around the City head here to shop and that makes it a great place to bring your no-longer-needed apparel and accessories.

Good Byes: Another solid Laurel/Presidio Heights consignment shop, this one stands out for have a separate men’s shop that can make it a two-birds-one-stone option if you’re interested in consigning both men’s and women’s clothing and accessories. The shops also offer a 50-50 split, so consignors make the same amount that the store does on every sale.

Jane Consignment: Outer Richmond residents are known to head to this eclectic consignment shop to find both luxury and affordable labels in vintage, retro and contemporary styles. A consignor perk: in addition to women’s apparel and accessories, the shop takes small household items such as pottery and home accessories, allowing you to unload more items in one fell swoop.

  • Children’s Clothing, Accessories and Toys

The shops below are San Francisco consignment destinations for children’s clothing and gear.

Chloe’s Closet: Locations in the Inner Sunset and Bernal Heights regularly draw parents seeking to recycle their kid’s clothing, toys, shoes and gear. Both shops are great places to find gently worn children’s apparel and almost-new toys. A perk for busy parents: the shops accept consignment items seven days a week and without an appointment. That said, if you have large items or more than four bags of clothing to drop-off, they ask that you call ahead.

Peekaboutique: This Noe Valley children’s store sells new and used kids’ clothing, toys and gear, including many items from local labels and companies (something I’m a big fan of, obviously). Set buying times on different days throughout the week and most of the day on Saturday make this a convenient place for busy parents to sell. For shoppers, the tidy arrangement of items and kids’ toys to occupy little folks in tow make this a pleasant place to browse.

This list is focused on consignment shops I’ve personally visited, sold at, shopped in and written about for SF Indie Fashion and other media outlets. It’s by no means exhaustive, and there are plenty of additional places around town to sell and consign apparel and accessories. For straight selling, you’ll find Crossroads and Buffalo Exchange, as well as vintage shops such as Painted Bird, to be great spots. For a look at all the consignment options in town, a good place to start is checking out the consignment store listings on Yelp.

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Secondhand News: Sui Generis Launches Online Boutique

Part of the holiday collection from the new Sui Generis online boutique is this Lanvin black silk mini dress, size 4, ($480) paired with purple silk velvet YSL pumps featuring snake skin heels and mink ankle straps, size 8, ($280).

Guys will find a bold, yet classic pairing with this Jill Sander wool and mohair coat, size 38, ($345) and Jill Sander fuchsia pullover, size medium, and Marc Jacobs wool Pants in size 31 ($110).

A classic black on cream wool Chanel coat in size 4 ($1,400) with silk bow at the neck and white Chanel wedges in size 9 ($300) with gold hardware details are among the chic picks in the newly launched shop.

Versace fans will no doubt swoon over this great condition black leather vintage Gianni Versace jacket, size large,with gold detachable hardware details and Medusa snap buttons ($426), a Versace silk print shirt, size large, ($244) and Helmut Lang leather pants in size 32 ($260).

Hot on the designer vintage heels of its land-based expansion, which brought a larger men’s shop and a brand new women’s boutique to San Francisco’s Castro earlier this year, Sui Generis continues to up its secondhand glam quotient with the official launch today of the Sui Generis Online Boutique. Stocked with rare, hard-to-find, vintage and designer consignment pieces for men and women, the shop offers easy access to the Market Street shops’ selection of apparel and accessories handpicked by owners Miguel Lopez and Gabriel Yanez.

In addition to the items shown here from the shops’ holiday editorial photo shoot with photographer Cecilia Austin and stylist Ken Baldwin, a recent perusal of the shop turned up such to-die-for finds as a pair of men’s Balenciaga high-top sneakers in black and brown, Ann Demeulemeester adjustable height leather boots, a perfectly polished Alexander McQueen wool dress and a Marc Jacobs brown leather mini skirt.

To celebrate the launch of the online boutique, shoppers can take 15 percent off of any purchase over $200 until December 25 with the discount code SG2011XMAS. If you’re a local resident, you can save a little more by picking up your online purchases at the store. Free gift wrapping is also an option at check-out.

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Photography courtesy Cecilia Austin for Sui Generis; art direction and styling by Ken Baldwin

In Pane Sight: Sui GENERIS “illa” Boutique

Sui GENERIS "Illa" Boutique, 2265 Market St., San Francisco

In the window at Sui GENERIS “Illa” boutique: If you’re looking for something to do while waiting for a table during one of the many Sunday brunch spots around the Castro, then pop into this upscale consignment shop between Noe and Sanchez Streets–its male counterpart, “Ille”, is located less than a block away.

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Summer Sale: Sui Generis

Behind the Shop: Simply Chic’s May Warren

May Warren, owner of Simply Chic

There’s a paisley pink awning on Cow Hollow’s Union Street printed with two words many strive to be: Simply Chic. Step underneath into the designer consignment shop for walls decked in Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, Dior and other high-end labels that blow the behind-the-counter options of typical secondhand shops out of the water.

May Warren, owner of Simply Chic, has been buying and selling designer handbags since 2001, when she used her eBay store to help fund her graduate school studies. With an in-store Chanel Lovers party and store-wide sale this week, a store and a blog to maintain, Warren is one busy lady. Luckily, we were able to catch up with her for a few to discuss her stock of coveted handbags, her personal style inspiration and her favorite San Francisco shops.

Inside Simply Chic

Can you tell us a little bit about your personal style inspiration and what got you involved in the fashion industry?

I grew up absorbing fashion since I was little. My mom would bring me along with her on her shopping excursions, and I remember her wearing an ivory bangle all the time. It seemed to go with every outfit, and she would also mix it with other accessories. My love of mixing and matching definitely came from her.

My father bought my first bag, a Louis Vuitton “Noe” handbag, when I was in college. I remember being appreciative of how well made it was; it was my first expensive bag.

The Bay Area retail landscape is competitive and tough. How does Simply Chic stand out?

We take contemporary and high-end designer labels for consignment. We understand the value of the designer items and market their current value and we take less commission than most consignment stores in the Bay Area. People come here to buy rare and gently worn designer items, as well as iconic handbags like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Hermes. Everything we sell here has been authenticated, and we guarantee the authenticity of every item sold in the store.

Describe your typical shopper.

The ages range from the 20′s to the 70′s. Our shoppers and consignment sellers come from all over the Bay Area and are usually women looking for a one-of-a-kind piece.

Do luxury bags stand up to wear and tear better? What’s the benefit of investing in an expensive bag?

It depends. Some Chanel bags are made with “caviar” or calf skin leather and are more sturdy for everyday use, and they also have a soft and luxurious feel. Most of these bags are definitely an investment piece that you can get a high cost per wear. For instance, you could wear a Hermes “Kelly” Bag with a little black dress or with jeans and a t-shirt and have a chic look every day.

Most iconic bags retain their value. Chanel, Hermes and Louis Vuitton handbag prices increase every year, and there’s always a demand for those bags. A handbag like 2.55 classic Chanel or Hermes Kelly or even Louis Vuitton “Speedy” can be passed down for generations.

What are your favorite places to shop in San Francisco or hang out?

Locally, I frequent independent boutiques on Union street, Upper Fillmore, Chestnut, Hayes Valley and Golden Gate Park.  My favorites shops for very interesting items are Nest on Fillmore and Bell’occhio. I also love window shopping and admiring window displays at Tiffany’s and Louis Vuitton.

Where would you be if you weren’t working?

A beach in Thailand.

Intrigued? Drool over the bags in person during the Simply Chic Chanel Lovers party at the store (3038 Fillmore St.) tonight from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Photography courtesy of Simply Chic

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