Resale shops have multiple benefits, including aiding the environment, recycling our closet inventory and reducing clothing costs. One of the best advantages, for those who admire the creativity of top designers and their fine workmanship, is to allow those of moderate means to afford lovely, exciting pieces for their wardrobes.
Panache Vintage & Finer Consignment, a superlative shop in the Rochester, New York, suburb of Brighton, is a mecca of affordable couture and better-made clothing. Its motto is: “You get more ooolahlah for your moolahlah.”
We definitely agree.
Under crystal chandeliers, top brands such as Prada, Hermés, and Loro Piana are arranged on elegant shelving and well-organized racks and rounders. Many consigned items carry their original price tags. The store carries some new direct-from-manufacturer items, particularly beautiful Biba shoes from Italy.
Shop founder Joan Lincoln is a one-woman fashion encyclopedia. A former model, she hosts a radio show on WARM 101.3, “Fashion First with Joan Lincoln,” based on her three-plus decades in the “image industry,” as she describes it. She’s worked in retail in Rochester as a mall manager and at an upscale boutique, clothing the well-to-do women who now consign her their garments. She also came to know her consigner market from studying with cosmetics talent Trish McEvoy and working as a makeup artist for local brides and ballgoers for two decades.
“We have women who ship us clothes from Chicago, California, Brooklyn and Florida,” she said. “We have a lot of recession-proof clients who sell their closets to refresh them.”
Once a week, Lincoln will make a house call to consign items from women with extensive wardrobes. “I just took 700 items from a house this week,” she said.
The inventory is all top condition, barely-worn clothing. There are many unusual one-of-a-kind items, such as the full-length orange leather coat (below), priced at $298. Gorgeous Prada dark blue velvet flats with satin ties were $128. A classic St. John houndstooth wool jacket was $178. Less costly brands like 9 West, Ellen Tracy and Dana Buchman also are represented, at prices from $14 to $56.
The great bargains are found in the annual sales held from mid-January to mid-February and during the month of August. We were lucky enough to visit the store during January, and shopped happily in one room devoted to clothing recently marked down by 50 percent.
We found a stunning black wool belted coat by Mackage for just $34 (retail price at Bloomingdale’s is $950), a stylish Tahari black wool jacket for $23 and a St. John green wool jacket for $49. A pristine London Fog all-weather coat with stainless steel fasteners and warm hood was $22. Evening wear in the bargain room was elegant and affordable, including beaded long gowns with jackets for $60 and under.
The seven-year-old consignment shop gives sellers 40 percent of the sales price and keeps items in the store for 60 days. If items are unsold after two months, sellers either retrieve the items or let Panache donate them.
The shop has multiple streams of charitable giving. It is a large donor of office wear to the organization Dress for Success, which helps women achieve economic independence with supportive networks, professional attire and development tools. Bra recycling helps Free The Girls, a charity that gives bras to women in third world countries, as wearing the undergarments helps raise women’s status in villages. Other bras are sent to a recycler in Gilbert, Arizona, where they are broken down into component parts. Panache also contributes garments to The Fairy Godmothers of Greater Rochester, which collects prom dresses for high school girls in need.
Rochester used to be a big fashion manufacturing center. Although most garment factories have closed, there is a robust Fashion Week, now in its eighth year, with fashion shows focused on local designers and boutiques, including Panache.
Rochester women have been so supportive of Panache that in 2013, Lincoln added Panache Home & Design next door, offering consignment home goods. Her adjacent third shop is called Trilogy Fashion Foundry. It is named for her three grown daughters and carries new, unique high-fashion clothing.
Panache Vintage & Finer Consignment, Brighton Commons, 1855 Monroe Ave., Rochester, NY 14618. 585/473-5343 www.panacheconsignboutique.com
Open Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.