Most college fashionistas settle to stare at these designer items on a blog, drooling and dreaming of the day they can slip their own feet into a pair of Louboutins.
A new store in Fairfield is making the strapped-for-cash, fashion enthusiast’s dream a reality for a fraction of the cost.
The items sold at The Label Exchange are “gently used,” a term that would have once made people of the fashion world turn their heads and run (well, walk at a brisk pace in their Louboutins) to the nearest high-end department store.
However, gently used clothing is now frequently referred to as “vintage chic,” which is a phrase that inspires and attracts the most sought-after stylists and college students alike to run to the nearest consignment shop.
The Label Exchange is set to become the go-to shop when looking for vintage in the Fairfield area. Opened in early October, the store plans on having its official grand opening party on December 15.
Walking into The Label Exchange is like walking into your mother’s closet — if she had a really amazing collection of classic pieces.
Heels and pumps sit on a shelf beckoning to be tried on. Jeans delicately hang on one rack and a luxurious fur coat on another. Prada and Louis Vuitton bags sit on shelves like art.
Most likely, those arriving at the store with the intention of looking for a shirt, will end up leaving with an entire outfit.
This was Nicole Yannieh’s vision for the store, which she owns with her husband Martin. After opening a successful consignment shop in 2009 in New Canaan, the business and fashion graduate decided to create her own brand of consignment stores.
She imagined a store unlike the usual unorganized and disheveled thrift store, one with a department-store atmosphere, where a customer can have “a whole shopping experience,” she says. Employees will assist the customer in picking out an entire outfit– from shoes to sunglasses.
The Yanniehs, Nicole says, wanted to bring acclamation to consignment shops.
If looking to consign some mistakes or impulse buys, or to clear out a closet, the first step is to set up an appointment.
The process begins with an employee separating the clothes into a “yes” pile and a “no” pile. The unwanted items are returned to the consignor.
The Label Exchange team then decides on a price, setting up an account for the consignor to track his or her items.
The accepted items remain on the floor for 90 days, and if they’re still unsold by then, they will be donated to charity organizations like Dress for Success. If sold, the consignor receives 50 percent of the selling price.
Location was important to the Yanniehs in choosing a spot for their new store; they hope the wealth of the area will bring forth one-of-a-kind vintage pieces for consignment.
“We knew Fairfield had so much to offer,” Nicole says. Mindful of the proximity of Fairfield University, they hope the store will be a draw for students and offer an alternative to the other stores in town.
Nicole entered the consignment business back in 2009, when the financial crisis was crippling markets and wallets. A bad time for the economy can mean a good time for consignment shops.
“There was always this stigma of secondhand- but then everything changed,” she says. “Thrifty became popular because people became smarter about where they wanted to spend their money.”
The desire to stand out in a sea of North Face jackets and Ugg boots draws Andréa Fernández to consignment shops.
As a student at Fairfield University, a school stereotypically known for its fashion uniformity, she prefers to wear one-of-a-kind outfits.
While the financial aspect is an added bonus, she says, she wears vintage “to stand out on campus where everyone basically shops at the same place.” For her it’s more fun to mix and match vintage pieces with the new.
Nicole Yannieh’s final advice for college fashionistas?
“Never pay full price for anything!”
With the consignment industry continuing to grow, you’ll never have to.
The Label Exchange is located at 1700 Post Road, Space E-3 in Fairfield, CT 06824.