how I buy designer pieces

by Krystal Bick
March 7, 2018

So let’s talk about designer purchases.

I’d like to go on the record and state, I almost never buy designer pieces brand new or at full price. There are several exceptions to this rule (namely a handful of shoes and one bag in particular), all of which had alluded the tips and tricks I’m going to detail for you below. By and large though, I prefer to hunt my designer acquisitions down at a fraction of the price — the reward feels pretty darn sweet and my savings account is starting to thank me for my stalwart patience when it comes to stalking pieces online. Because, hey, I’d love an upstate vacation home some day to house said shoes and bags. So, a girl’s gotta save.

A lot of you guys have been asking lately about my approach to buying designer pieces — where to start, who to trust, what to look for. And your girl has been busy reviewing her notes, fact checking them twice, and she’s now ready to share! Let’s dig in!

Keep a running list and add alerts if possible: If you’re like me, there’s several different pieces on your radar at any given moment. Some of mine have been on my list for years, as I’m still hunting those pieces down, some I just added after this past Fashion Month season. A list, no matter what you’re after — shoes, bags, ready to wear — will give you a handy starting point when you begin searching on line. Always make sure to note the brand (of course) but also the style name of what you’re after — it’ll make sifting that much faster if you’re entering “Dior Conquest Pumps” each time, as opposed to “Dior pumps.” Seems like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how long I sifted ALL the results, until I learned better.

My search usually starts off the same on any site I’m browsing, I’ll immediately search for my key items of the moment and then browse their New Arrivals, to see what’s popped in recently. Take note of inventory counts and, if it’s an individual seller, take note of the listing dates — chances are if it’s been in their shop for a while, they may be more eager to sell.

OUTFIT DETAILS: McQ jacket (old, similar style here ON SALE) // Keepsake the Label dress (gifted) // Zara boots (from earlier this season, similar style here ON SALE) // Cafune bag (gifted) // Vintage Chanel earrings (obsessed with this set, also ON SALE)

Also, several of my go-to online consignment haunts offer alerts — so if there’s a particular piece you’re really after, you can request an email to be sent over if it comes back into stock in your size.

The main players: So where to shop you ask? My usual suspects are: The RealReal, Vestaire Collective, What Goes Around Comes Around, Yoox (for new, but off season items) and certain sellers on eBay with high ratings. All of these sites, including eBay now with their authentication program, have a resident team of authentication experts to help verify the quality and validity of all the items listed for sale — thereby saving you from gray hairs and possible angry email correspondence with a seller who has just duped you.

Of course, if you’re not new to these parts, you all know I love The RealReal — as early as their beta days, when someone at Google whispered to me at work, “Hey, have you heard of this site?” I’ve been a fan girl ever since, and many of my designer pieces to date I have them to thank for. They ship quickly, they’re always accurate in the condition description and they offer referral credits fairly regularly. This post is in no way sponsored by them — I just love The RealReal and wanted to iterate that here for you all.

Authentication: If you decide to forgo an online retailer that offers authentication as part of the process, let’s say at a vintage store, I cannot stress this enough: Proceed with caution. Ask for original boxes, if they’re available. Ask for certified tags, if they’re available. Ask if they’ll allow you to have it authenticated by a verified inspector. Again, I usually opt to for the first route, that being an online seller who already offers their authentication services, but if you find ourself outside that realm, make sure you ask A LOT of questions — wear them down if you need to. I’ll never forget the time I got burned buying a pair of, what I thought were Alaïa heels, from a certain seller on eBay, only to have a shoddy pair arrive a week later, with the label clearly glued on. I’ve since learned my lesson on eBay — and as I mentioned, there are so many great highly-rated sellers with beautiful designer inventory on the site. Moral of the story: Just have your wits about you.

Become friends with sales associates: Funny story about the jacket I’m wearing in these photos. You’ve undoubtedly seen it a million times here on This Time Tomorrow. I picked it up years ago at one of my favorite shops in San Francisco, Jeremy’s, which used to receive all the leftover current season items from department stores, and heavily discount them. Since I made a regular Saturday habit of swinging by, I quickly became friends with one sales associate in particular, Ryan, who actually held this McQ leather jacket for me the minute it came in, because he “had a feeling I would want it.”

Similarly, I live pretty close to the Bookmarc store on Bleecker (Marc Jacobs book store), where they sell, in addition to amazing coffee table art books, some really hard to find Olympia Le-Tan clutches. I’m a fanatic when it comes to her clutches — and I’ve accumulated my fair share of them at this point. I’ve never paid full price for any of them though. And once I discovered the Book Marc store regularly did clean outs of their inventory, I immediately gave my email to one of the associates to notify me the next time they went on serious sale. He’s honored his word since.

Enlist a trusted cobbler or leather reworker: The reality with anything coming from a consignment site or store is this: it’s used. It’s been in someone else’s life, getting some much deserved love, so you have to set your expectations accordingly. Personally, I’m not overly fussed by a few nicks or scrapes here and there (particularly on a bag), because it’s inevitable, I’m about to do the same to it. When purchasing, take note of the conditions listed, zoom in on pictures, and when in doubt, use the chat feature to talk it over with someone from their team.

Next, when your new baby arrives, don’t underestimate what a cobbler or leather reworker can do! I’ve taken numerous pairs of heels in to have them look practically brand new when they come back — sometimes it just takes a good polish or resoling to do the trick. Same with bags.

Estate sales: I don’t get to do this as often anymore, but estate sales are just the best for those diamonds in the rough moments. Whenever I head upstate, I always set aside a little time to map out some potential estate sales to hit up along the way, in hopes there’s a meaty jewelry or clothing collection to be had. My good friend, Jillian, of Sweet & Spark, actually does just this for her brand, listing and selling some of the amazing costume and designer pieces she finds along the way — these Chanel earrings being her most recent score. The minute she posted on Instagram she was selling them, I pounced.  And I have to say — I’m SO over the moon about them.

We have a few upstate excursion plans and a Montreal road trip in the works — so I’ll keep you all posted if we manage to sneak in some shopping along the way.

And that does it! My tried and true approach to finding those unique designer pieces, without having to fork over full price. Any tips you’d like to add?

Photos by Nora Varcho

11 thoughts on “how I buy designer pieces

  1. My new find is amuze.com. I check it everyday to see what’s new or what’s been even more discounted but they seriously have amazing deals!

  2. You always look outstanding and this outfit is one of the most beautiful rock n’roll princess like looks I’ve ever seen! Well done!
    Also, VC is one of my fave places to shop for 2nd hand and vintage unique designer pieces. 🙂

    https://lartoffashion.com

  3. Thank you for the tips and your pictures are beautiful! I’m from Montreal and love reading your blog 🙂 Enjoy your trip here 🙂

  4. I always use Shoptagr to tag the items that I am waiting to go on sale. It will send a notice when the price goes down. I also love Shopstyle because you can search preowned items. I get most of my designer items on Real Real, Poshmark or eBay.

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