May 24, 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.

More San Francisco recycled fashion



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

More San Francisco boutiques


The Do List: San Francisco Fashion Events July 11-17

Like clique-busters chillin’ with a new crew on summer nights, Bay Area fashion folks and fine artists are hanging out together more than ever these days. This week, you’ll spot it happening at community-minded gallery opening in Alameda, during a fashion show in an Oakland arts space, in a hip Mission boutique and at the first Prepare for the Playa event of the summer. As always, you’ll find the details and more upcoming San Francisco fashion events on the SF Indie Fashion Calendar.

  • While fine arts and fashion are the theme this week, you can still get your shop on during Simply Chic’s Chanel Lovers event on Wednesday night and at Gump’s on Thursday evening, when Jendarling Bags presents its latest luxury garment bags and accessories at the iconic department store during the EQ Show launch event.
  • Thursday’s opening party for the new Redux Studios & Gallery in Alameda brings a reason to hit the highway. A project from St. Vinvent de Paul of Alameda County, the venue sells apparel, accessories and art made from recycled and reclaimed materials, offers community workshops, monthly art shows and affordable studio space for artists.
  • On Friday, fashion and the arts once again join forces during F3 at the Cotton Mill, which features a slew of local artists and a fashion show that includes local designer Ken Chen and Zoe Hong, among others. Another chance to take in fashion and fine art at the same time comes from the Mission’s Belljar, which opens its Precipice show amid its selection of lovely wearables and items for the home with a reception on Friday evening.
  • If Burning Man is on your to-do list this summer, you can start getting prepped at Sunday’s Prepare for the Playa event, full of “burner-preneurs” selling apparel, accessories and accoutrements for the annual desert extravaganza.

You can find details on all of these events and more happening this week on the SF Indie Fashion Calendar.

News: Princess Project Dress Drive, The BKC’s 1st Girlie Items, New Collections + More


All fashion-minded eyes may be on New York this week, but there’s still much to love right here in good ‘ole SF. A few examples:

The Princess Project has kicked off its 2010 dress drive. Check here for Bay Area drop-off locations and stay tuned for upcoming information about additional events.

The Brooklyn Circus brings something for the ladies to the Fillmore shop – for the very first time. Now in store, you’ll find the elephant earrings shown here. Even better, they’re handmade and exclusively available in San Francisco.

San Francisco native Patrik Ervell impresses Anna Wintour at New York Fashion Week. Via 7×7 Glamwatch.

Speaking of San Francisco natives and New York Fashion Week, Metier has the scoop on the mayhem outside the Alexander Wang show on Saturday.

Gold & Citrus just released its latest collection of delectable baubles. Dubbed Show Some Skin, it features feathers and lots of gold.

If you’re looking for spring dresses, Simply Chic has a slew of new styles priced under $80.

Today only, you can enter to win a dress from Amanda Archer, a once-local designer who’s moved on to Portland (and soon, Chicago from there, we hear). It’s a great chance to own one of this independent designer’s feminine dresses.

The Seventh Heart declares that comfort is the new luxury.

SF Unzipped reminds us that we really need to go see the Cartier & America exhibit on view at the Palace of the Legion of Honor.

We tend to agree with The Finer Dandy that Kell on Earth may be just what Bravo needs most right now.