Swap around for designer savings
Here's the perfect way of clearing out your wardrobe and slashing your clothing bill, say Constance Harris
People hang onto clothes they no longer wear for many reasons. Issues around money, for example: we feel we it would be being wasteful if we didn't get more wear out of them.
We feel we can't afford new clothes so we should retain those we have. We also keep old clothes because we don't feel we are worth new ones. And there are issues around letting go: if you hoard clothes, you most likely hang onto everything else -- paper, furniture, emotions.
I am a great believer in the wardrobe clear-out. In fact I teach it all the time (see www.redress.ie).
The reason why I feel it is so important to empty your wardrobe is that holding onto clothes you no longer wear is oppressive, and depresses the spirit.
But though I am an advocate of giving stuff to charity shops, there is also something to be said for putting a value on what you want to get rid of because giving away too much is another sign of not valuing yourself enough.
A swap shop -- their owners prefer the phrase "pre-loved" -- is a store that sells new and nearly new, often high-end designer clothing generally at about a quarter to a third of the original price. The retailer gets 50 per cent of the selling price and you get the other half. Some retailers take clothes for four weeks, others for a few months. It depends on their turnover. Non-new clothes have to be freshly cleaned and pressed.
In Dublin there are loads of swap shops. Ruby Ruby (01 672-5870) in the Hibernian Mall is set up like a bijou boutique and often offers brand new designer wear.
Laura Barnes, co-owner with Aideen McHenry, told me she got the idea to start the business when she left the corporate world and didn't know what to do with her Armani suits "which weren't really suitable to give to charity shops".
"As a concept, it is rooted in common sense. People still shop in Brown Thomas and such. But they mix and match. It's just about having prices you are happy with."
Wear It Again (01 661 0060) on Baggot Street has a reputation for glamour fashion labels such as Jimmy Choo, while Stock Xchange (01 202-0720) in Dun Laoghaire is great for working girls and their trendy mothers -- you'll find plenty in there from the great boutiques in near-by Glasthule and Blackrock. Tosca in Newbridge (045 438978) has a long and respected designer reputation. The Secret Closet (01 832 5853) in Howth village is building up a good reputation for nice taste and nice staff.
All the clothes on our pages today are from a show given by The Designer Circle (www.thedesignercircle.com), based in Fairyhouse, Co Meath.
Held in Luttrelstown Golf Club to raise money for Temple Street Children's Hospital, it was a lively evening with models of all shapes and ages, much to the audience's appreciation. Amanda Byram donated the stunning leopard-print dress by Dina Barel, from her show, Paradise Hotel.
Founded by mother-of-three Liz Nuzum in 2009, The Designer Circle has built up a strong reputation for selling only designer wear.
So what does a retailer look for when accepting pre-loved clothes to sell?
"It has to have the wow factor. The 'I can't believe I am getting this for this price'. They have to be exclusive and they have to be something that somebody else is dying to have."
Liz explained that some people treat swap shops as a dumping ground for clothes that are old. Or they have too high expectations of the amount of money they can get.
"My customers know their labels and the original prices. It has to be a designer label otherwise the pieces are not going to sell. It has to be no more than two seasons (old). They want Prada, Issa, Victoria Beckham, Mui Mui, Moschino. Or they want classic, investment pieces from designers such as Chanel, Dior, Alberta Ferretti."
While it can initially be heartbreaking to let go of a piece you paid €1,000 for, to only receive €150, I have to tell you I have not regretted letting anything in my wardrobe go -- no matter what I was paid.
Apart from diversity of choice, swap shops are great for out-sizes, be it size 6 or 18.
"This time of year, I get a lot of younger women looking for dresses to take them from work to evenings out, so Issa and DVF are always popular. But I am also seeing a big demand for mother of the bride, or groom. These outfits can cost a fortune only to be worn once. And size is often an issue. I take all the bigger sizes I can get because a lot of my customers are bigger, fashion-loving women.
"What's left in the sales are pieces nobody wants. What we have is clothes that people loved and they are parting with because they are building their wardrobes again," said Liz.
"This is a great way to keep money and your wardrobe rotating."
Photography: Gerry Mooney Hair: Emagine, Main St, Clonee, Co Meath tel: (01) 801-5738 Make-up: Gillian Rafferty for Ken Boylan at Zeba, 60 Sth William St, D2 tel: (01) 671-6444 Models: Compton
Shot on location at Luttrellstown Golf Club, Castleknock, Dublin 15
Photography: Gerry Mooney
Hair: Emagine, Main St, Clonee, Co Meath tel: (01) 801-5738
Make-up: Gillian Rafferty for Ken Boylan at Zeba, 60 Sth William St, D2 tel: (01) 671-
6444 Models: Compton Shot on location at Luttrellstown Golf Club, Castleknock, Dublin 15
All clothes featured are from The Designer Circle. Open Wednesday to Saturday, or by appointment only, Bridle House Farm, Fairyhouse Road, Ratoath, Co Meath, tel: (085) 714 6152 or email Liz Nuzum email@example.com or
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