Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Second Hand Rose, or, What Goes Around Comes Around

If you’ve been asking yourself whether you’d be able to find an Hermès Himalayan crocodile Birkin bag – and, let’s face it, who hasn’t? – I have some excellent news for you.

What Goes Around Comes Around (WGACA), which specializes in used designer clothing, including vintage items, is opening up a new shop in Beverly Hills.

Even though I grew up wearing hand-me-down hand-me-downs, I have nothing against second-hand clothing. In fact, thanks to my sisters, I have plenty of it. The other night I had dinner with my sister Kath. I showed up wearing a jacket, and carrying a bag, that she’d given me. I love trickle down clothing!

Naturally, it’s best when it’s free. But there’s a second hand store just around the corne, and, while I haven’t bought anything there, I’ve gone in once or twice.

My feelings about second-hand were not always so positive. I grew up with a sister who was two years older, an aunt who was six years older, a cousin who was nine years older. So I had a complete funnel of already-worn outfits coming my way. I so cherished the new. When, at age 4, someone gave me a tee-shirt with MAUREEN written on it in candy-striped lettering, I nearly wept for joy. Not only did I have something that was absolutely my own, there would be no expectation that I would have to wear the KATHLEEN shirt once Kath outgrew it.

But I’m not so sensitive now, and I’m always happy when one of my sisters shows up with a bag of goodies to paw through. And if there were an outpost of What Goes Around around here, I’d definitely stick my head in, even though I am not now, and never will be, in the market for a Himalayan crocodile Birkin bag that might go for as much as $185K.

I did do some virtual Windows shopping on WGACA, and found plenty of items that were a lot more reasonable than that Birkin bag.

Although they’re more reasonable that that Birkin bag, I still wouldn’t be willing to pay $500 for a 1978 Grateful Dead vintage tee-shirt. Which is not to say that there might not be plenty of Dead Heads out there willing to go truckin’ over to WGACA, like the doodah man, with that kind of coin in hand.

I would, on the other hand, be quite surprised if there were any aging AC/DC or Black Sabbath fans with that kind of dough. I was on a business trip to Hartford in the early 1980’s when Blue Oyster Cult and Black Sabbath were appearing there. From what I saw of that fan base, I doubt that they would, 35 years on, be in any position to spend $500 on a tee shirt. Not that I was looking any too closely at this posse, who were partying on the roof of the garage of the hotel I was staying in. I was actually a little nervous about what all these smoking, drinking, hollering guys who looked like Hell’s Angels were doing out there. Then I realized that they were there for a concert.

But it’s not all vintage at WGACA. Much of what’s on sale is of recent interest. But most of what’s on sale – Rick Springfield tees and 501 Levi’s aside – is designer.

And WGACA is not alone. There’s a growing number of brick-and-mortar shops and online sites, and even Christie’s is getting into the action. (Imagine folks bidding up on that Himalayan crocodile bag…)

[Stylist Lauren] Goodman adds that the lure of vintage is also driven by the rising prices of new merchandise. Designer labels have deliberately hiked prices of core items over the past decade or so; the cost of Chanel’s bags, for example, rises an average 15 percent annually. “It makes vintage feel better value than ever, and it’s already survived the test of time.” (Source: Bloomberg)

It’s not just well-enough-heeled no-names who shop around, either. The names Rihanna and Amal Clooney were thrown out there.

Somehow, I don’t think either one of them will be elbowing their way towards that AC/DC tee shirt.

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