When Stella Yoon and Jina Rachel Han receive designer pieces new to their consignment shop, they attempt to resist the urge to keep the items for themselves.
“We try our best but it’s so hard, it takes a lot of work,” Han says. “We try not to shop the first month that it comes in so the customers have first dibs before us.”
Best friends since high school, the pair originally launched Haute Classics as an online store six years ago before opening a physical location.
“Initially I was very passionate about fashion and Jina was passionate more towards luxury goods so to combine the two we thought it was a perfect blend to start designer consignment,” Yoon says.
After three years at Yonge Street and Davenport Road, they recently relocated the business to a bigger space on Yonge Street south of St. Clair Avenue.
“We basically have all the same items as at the other store but now that everything is nicely dispersed and displayed properly, people are able to shop the store much better,” Han says.
The move has also allowed them to extend their offerings to include a men’s collection in addition to their selection of women’s high-end and contemporary designer label clothes, handbags, shoes and accessories from Christian Louboutin to Chanel.
One of their goals for the new location is for customers to feel like they are entering a retail boutique rather than a second hand or vintage store.
“We definitely like the simplicity and the clean slate look,” Yoon says. “We’ve focused more on white colours and monochromatic palettes in the store so you can definitely see more of the items popping.”
“We want people to think that they are shopping through other people’s closet like Carrie from Sex and the City,” Han adds.
Consignment wise, the store works on a 60/40 split, with consigners receiving 60 percent of the commission and the store keeping 40.
They accept only gently used or brand new items dating back less than two years, making exceptions for certain vintage and classic pieces. Over the years several consigners have also become customers.
“We’re just hoping that they come back with an idea of shopping consignment where they save the bucks buying designer goods but at the same time that they can get a positive return in that sense,” Yoon says.
In addition to dishing out style advice, another job perk is being able to shop through other people’s closets to see what they do and don’t wear.
“It’s almost like having a fashion show everyday,” Han says.
In the future the duo hope to open other locations and possibly branch out into other avenues including kids clothes and wedding gowns.
Reflecting back on some experiences in store, Han says a rewarding experience has been helping out moms who come to shop after having children.
“They are lost in a sense of style like they no longer know what to wear or don’t have anything to wear basically,” she says. “They just want to learn one by one what’s the new trend and what to pair it with and it’s just fun to give them advice in general.”
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