December 27, 2008

(BN) What Recession? NYC Bargain-Hunters Find Cut-Rate Gucci Bags, Manolo Shoes

Bloomberg News

What Recession? NYC Bargain-Hunters Find Cut-Rate Gucci Bags

Dec. 23 (Bloomberg) -- As she checked out a shelf of colorful Hermes Birkin bags at New York's Fisch for the Hip, real-estate broker Seena Stromberg explained the allure of consignment shopping in a recession.

"It's better than putting money in the stock market right now and it's better than investing with Madoff," said Stromberg, 63, who works for Citi Habitats.

Investors who lost millions in Bernard Madoff's alleged Ponzi scheme may join the list of shoppers searching for bargains at high-end consignment shops, which sell previously owned designer clothes and other secondhand luxury items brought in by people who no longer need or want them.

If the goods are sold, usually for a fraction of the regular retail price, profits are split between the consignor and the store.

Here's a look at some of New York's best luxury bargain shops:

Fisch for the Hip

Chelsea's Fisch for the Hip is logo heaven with an impressive array of Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermes handbags, wallets and clutches.

A brand new Phillip Lim cocktail dress is on sale for $350, about half the retail price. There's also a slew of trendy Herve Leger bandage dresses in various colors, with prices ranging from $300 to $500.

During the holiday season, Fisch is offering a 15 percent discount on fall merchandise if you purchase two items worth at least $100 each. It's 20 percent off for three items or more costing at least $100 apiece.

153 West 18th St. +1-212-633-9053; .

Gentlemen's Resale

A classic Burberry coat with thick navy wool, tartan-lined hood and toggle buttons for $195? You bet.

A buttery brown Miu Miu leather coat sells for $375 at Gentlemen's Resale, and a Paul Smith pinstripe suit goes for the same price. Pair it with a Thomas Pink broadcloth button-down shirt ($60) and black leather Valentino dress shoes ($135) and you have yourself a smart outfit for the next important meeting.

Helpful (and sharply dressed) employees move about the well- lit space on the Upper East Side, one of a trio of related consignment shops on the same block. The original Designer Resale and Designer Resale Too cater to female shoppers, while Gentlemen's Resale offers an impressive collection of menswear and accessories.

Keep an eye out for color-coded stickers at all three stores, which flag older inventory that's been reduced.

Designer Resale, 324 East 81st St., and Designer Resale Too, 311 East 81st St. +1-212-734-3639 for both stores. Gentlemen's Resale, 322 East 81st St. +1-212-734-2739; .


Michael's, a two-level fixture on Madison Avenue, has been welcoming tourists and neighborhood regulars for 54 years. It accepts and resells only the best of gently used designer names.

A black Chanel wool pantsuit was recently reduced to $595 from $695. Brown leather Manolo Blahnik slingbacks ($175) and Christian Louboutin ($125) suede pumps are also a bargain. So is the blue-and-black Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress for $109.

Need an outfit for the holiday-party circuit? How about a black taffeta cocktail dress from Oscar de la Renta ($395) or a Carolina Herrera two-piece suit with rhinestone accents and beaded trim? A small Hermes Birkin, safely stored in a glass display case, is available for $8,500, less than half the usual price.

Merchandise must be no more than 2 years old and have either a label or stamp intact.

1041 Madison Ave., between 79th and 80th Streets. +1-212- 737-7273; .

A Second Chance

A Second Chance Designer Resale Boutique also sells designer wear at non-designer prices.

Space is tight, but brand names abound at this store, where the entrance walls are painted cotton-candy pink. Ignore the Lexington Avenue subway line rumbling underground; instead, turn your attention to the Chanel collection that takes up half of one wall.

You can indulge your inner lady with a classic tweed jacket ($750) and two-tone ballet flats ($199), about one-third of the retail price. A Louis Vuitton monogram petite bucket bag ($499) never goes out of style and an orange Goyard hobo-style bag ($750) is a fun piece of arm candy. Finish the look with an Hermes silk scarf ($199).

1109 Lexington Ave., between 77th and 78th Streets. +1-212- 744-6041; .


INA, which has four branches in downtown Manhattan, carries a wide range of deeply discounted designer duds. Whether it's an Oscar de la Renta wool sweater or a Rag & Bone blazer, the store appeals to designer connoisseurs of all ages.

A current highlight in the Noho store is a shiny Alexander McQueen black patent-leather bag selling for $1,250. Tables are stacked with jeans, organized by size, and upscale brands include True Religion and Seven for All Mankind. INA also carries his and hers shoes, accessories, and bags.

Sellers work with INA to decide on price and keep about 45 percent of the sale price.

INA Noho, 15 Bleecker St., +1-212-228-8511; INA Soho, 101 Thompson St., +1-212-941-4757; INA Nolita Women, 21 Prince St., +1-212-334-9048; INA Nolita Men, 262 Mott St., +1-212-334-2210; INA Uptown, 208 East 73rd St., +1-212-249-0014; .

At most stores, prices are reduced by 20 percent after one month and 50 percent after two months. If an item remains unsold after 90 days, it is returned to the consignor or marked down further.

To contact the writer on the story: Hana Choi in New York at Sara Eisen in New York at

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