As a teenager, I always loved thrift shops because of the hidden surprises within, the bargains, and the bargain surprises. So, after developing a taste for nice clothes in Europe (with much coaching from friends who were appalled by my Canadian fleece and gortex style), the natural progression from thrift shops was to consignment stores or designer resale shops.
I’m not sure which were the first shops I stumbled across, but I loved looking through second-hand clothes of a higher quality, and seeing if there was something I wanted. I was scornful of designer labels in my youth, but after living in the amazing fashion city of London, I learned that there’s a reason that beautiful clothes cost more, and it’s not just the name of the brand. I found out that fashion is fun, that I enjoyed wearing nice clothes, and that finding something special that suited me was exciting.
It’s become a part of my travel itinerary if I’m in the right city. The right city for designer resale shops or consignment shops is somewhere where people wear nice clothes, and want to get rid of them on a regular basis. Women’s shops are common enough, but men’s not so much. In Sydney, there’s only Blue Spinach, which has wonderful charity sales twice a year, but their prices are still out of my range. Designer clothes are very expensive here, and not worn by many – so even at consignment prices, prices don’t come down that much.
After a March 2011 trip to Paris, I wrote down my results from my little mission to check out some of Paris’ resale shops, known as depots-vente. That post was one of the most popular to ever appear on my blog, so now that I’m back in Paris for a period (Oct 2014–Feb 2015), it’s time for an update!
It seems like there are a lot more men’s resale/consignment stores in Paris then there were a few years ago, but since there were really only one or two, it’s all relative.
Chercheminippes seems to be an empire of resale stuff. There’s a woman’s store, an accessories store, a junior store, a regular sort of charity shop, and then a Men’s store at 111 rue du Cherche-Midi (in the 7th arrondisement). I actually thought the clothes were of good quality and with an interesting range. Some fabulous sweaters which I’ll go back and grab when it’s colder (“Pulls”, they’re selling them everywhere this month).
I have to say I had high hopes for Plus que parfait at 23 rue Blancs Manteaux, in the Marais in the 4th arrondisement, just off Rue archives. Oh Paris, you’re too expensive for me. There were some absolutely beautiful suit jackets and dress shirts there… from top name designers. That’s the thing. Prices start at 100 euros and jump far up from there. I suppose if the original goods are 500 euros and you’re getting something here for 200, it’s a deal! There was a dominance of formal wear here: suit jackets, winter jackets, dress shirts. There were some shelves with sweaters and jeans in the back, but a much smaller collection. I didn’t see anything that made me even fantasize about having enough money to buy it though.
Likewise for Les Beaux Mecs, at 18, rue Jules Vallès 75011 Paris. Here the prices were fairly expensive, but I didn’t see much that I recognised even. It’s a fairly small store and seemed like an OK selection but I was non-plussed.
Unless things have changed, Misentroc (63 rue Notre-Dame des Champs, Paris 75006. Tel. 01-46-33-03-67. Metro Stop: Notre-Dame des Champs) only has clothes for women.
Free ‘P’ Star (8, rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie) is another shop in the Marais mentioned on fashion sites. In fact, it had rave reviews, claiming ‘one-of-a-kind pieces that appeal to the Parisian trendsetters’ and that it was frequented by celebrities like Kirsten Dunst and Sofia Coppola. Sometimes, I think these blog writers just need to have something to say. Maybe they were fooled by the website, which is a fetching shade of hot pink and makes the place look really groovy. The shop has an air of cool, but is just a regular crappy second-hand clothes stores, not designer seconds, more like used army-gear, and plaid shirts, jeans and crazy dresses. You find these shops all over Amsterdam. All over the world in fact.
I’d recommend instead going to any of the many branches of the Kilo Shop. It is CRAZY how many clothes are in these vintage shops, that do sell clothes by the Kilo. The thing is that there are so many of them, in such variety, that there is actually some kind of cool stuff. If I was a fashion student, I would be buying old cool stuff, and reshaping and cutting them into today’s fashion, mix and matching some funky casual wear from here with a carefully chosen more expensive purchase from somewhere else. My boyf and I both both Palestinean scarves, and I was tempted by a French military hat.
Réciproque (88-101 rue de la Pompe, Paris 75016. Tel. 01-47-04-30-28. Metro Stop: Rue de la Pompe), in the 16th arrondissement, is the resale shop most often mentioned on the internet. There is a whole complex of stores each specializing in something – accessories, shoes, boots. I actually visited the men’s store in 2009, not this trip, and didn’t find the men’s selection particularly good. I bought an ‘Eden Park’ dress shirt that reminded me of my Paul Smith stripy shirt, and a ‘Sergio Tacchini’ zip-up athletic jacket in a shade between purple and pink that I can’t name. Nice enough but neither of them were favourites. I’m going to try and check it out and see what it looks like in 2014.
In 2011, I was lusting after Alternatives (18 rue du Roi de Sicile, Paris 75004. Tel. 01-42-78-31-50. Metro Stop: St Paul). It was a small, charming shop in the Marais that I found locked when I got there. They only wanted a few people in at a time so they can provide good service. I was drooling after various shirts by designers such as Alexander McQueen and Dries Van Noten. I think it’s probably closed now.
Episode, at 12-16 rue de Tiquetonne just up from Les Halles is listed on a few websites. Part of a Dutch chain, it is absolutely stuffed with clothes, crazy kimonos, sweaters, military uniforms, business shirts and more. Not a consignment store, and not much designer wear, so I’d put it in the same category as Free P Star and the Kilo shop.
Finally, not a resale store but instead an outlet sales store. We stumbled across Numero 50 at 50 Rue Ste Anne and it had some great men’s (and women’s) clothes at great prices, and they change their stock to different designers every few weeks.
I suspect that Paris isn’t the right place for men’s consignment stores. I think that well-dressed Parisian men hang onto their clothes, and wear them out so they’re not in any shape for resale. The majority of the affordable items that I saw were from cheap chains like Zara and H&M and why buy second-hand items from them, when you’d be able to get them on sale there for the same cost or less. Browsing around, it seems that there are a lot of discount and sale stores that sell a limited number of brands, so that’s probably the way to find clothes deals in Paris.
If you’ve got a taste for designer resale for men, other cities are going to suit you better. Better to stop in at the Dress for Less on St. John Street in Islington, London (or scour their charity stores which will turn up an amazing amount of very high quality designer clothes… for a pittance). The best ever of course is the Ragtag chain in Tokyo. I’m still wearing shirts and jackets I bought from there: Issey Miyake, Lanvin, Stephan Schneider, Paul Smith… Even the last time I was in Vancouver, there were some pretty good shops these days. Turnabout had some great items.
Anyone else have advice on Paris Resale Shops for men? A hidden gem I missed? Or even your favourite Men’s resale shops elsewhere? Leave a comment! This is one of my most popular blog posts, so surely someone has some advice to share!