Labels on a shoestring

Visit resale shops for discounted designer clothing

The stigma of buying secondhand clothes has faded. In fact, resale shops (a.k.a. consignment shops) are one of the fastest growing segments of the retail industry, according to the National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops (NARTS). At some 15,000 such stores nationwide shoppers can find everything from couture clothes to bridal gowns.

Consignment shops, where you can save up to 75%, differ from thrift shops in that the clothing tends to be more upscale, says Barbara Inglehart, co-author of Shopping L.A. (Shopping L.A., $40; 323-469-2477; www.shoppingla.net), a store directory with detailed descriptions.

It’s A Wrap (3315 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, California; 818-567-7366) features barely worn designers duds. The store specializes in celebrity castoffs that have been used on shows such as Moesha, Port Charles and Beverly Hills 90210. The store offers men’s, women’s and children’s clothes….There’s also Designer Resale (4815 Rugby Ave., Bethesda, Maryland; 301-656-3722). “We have a just-like-new, three-year-old Chanel suit for $640. It retails for $3,000. A Prada bag is $150 and Versace tops are $50,” says owner Tiina Hayden. The store carries sizes 0-3X and a selection of furs. Shoppers can use the layaway plan and “if a customer wants a Gucci bag, we put it on a wish list. If we get one, we hold it for the customer.” According to Hayden, the clothes are generally a season old.

Also look for children’s clothes at consignment shops, says Inglehart. “Children grow so fast that the quality you’ll find should be very good. Infant clothes, for example, will have been very gently worn.”

Find member stores nationwide at the NARTS Website at www.narts.org.

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