On a recent trip through Madison Park, I noticed that Gentlemen’s Consignment had closed.
Not a huge surprise. The store kept interesting hours and, while often stocked with perfectly broken-in Ralph Lauren linen suits and random assortments of repurpose-able Brooks Brothers sweaters and cordovan loafers, I never saw a body going in or coming out. I spoke to a few business owners in the neighborhood who noticed the same thing, although two mentioned that it was their understanding that owner Sally Dietrich was just ready to hang up her hat on that particular business model. Fair enough.
What I’m wondering is: Will another style- and fashion-minded businessperson fill the void? Is there a void to fill? Do men want to shop consignment? Do they know how?
In recent years, a number of really smart women’s consignment shops joined already established resale posts to create useful, fun, relevant in-and-out opportunities for women who like to see a bit of return on their investments and score good deals. In the best case scenarios, these boutiques are presided over by shopkeepers with keen and discerning taste. The best consignment shops don’t take garden variety big-box pill-covered sweaters. They look for special pieces—just like you do. They’re interested in finding new homes for gently used designer items and high quality basics from the best department stores and quality manufacturers. They’re on top of trends, they know their individual customers as well as the Seattle market, and curate their racks in approximation of ready-to-wear seasonal cycles.
Le Frock on Capitol Hill offers, more or less, that kind of environment for men. Remember Ben and his vintage Jil Sander vest? On Phinney Ridge, Armadillo also includes men’s items in its department store-like resale environment, but GQ readers will most like feel a bit underwhelmed. All is not completely lost for guys now that Gentlemen’s Consignment is gone, but I’d love to see the male equivalent of My Dressing Room. Where’s the Driftwood for Blackbird shoppers?
Here’s a good place to say that I may be married to someone who has a few Steven Alan button-downs and a pair or two of Clark’s desert boots that he isn’t interested in any more, but he can’t be the only one. A woman I spoke to about all this last week says men wear their clothes differently—her tone meant they wear through them so that no one else oughtta touch them. I don’t know. I know more than a couple of fickle-enough clothes horses. And with the exciting and vibrant emphasis on menswear in the wake of the recession stirring up interest in all kinds of Y chromosomes, I think we all the shop the same these days—meaning some of us shop alot and often, regardless of gender. Another friend says men would have to be taught to shop resale stores, but I wondered: were women taught? I don’t remember my lesson… don’t we all just figure it out?
What’s your take on men’s consignment? Does Seattle need more of it?