This post is going to be a bit of a departure from others that have been featured on “I Bleed Fashion” before. So often, I get asked by strangers, friends, and acquaintances “how Can You Afford All of That?!”. It’s no secret that I often wear designer items that can fetch a pretty price tag at Holt Renfrew or Barney’s in the States. Well fashionistas, I’m here to hopefully pass on some helpful tips in this post.
Don’t be lazy – do your research and shop around.
Perhaps McGill has instilled quite a bit of tenacity and persistence in me, or maybe I’m applying the principle “all good things come to those who wait” to my shopping habits, but I rarely purchase something immediately upon seeing it. Because Holt Renfrew is very close to McGill, I often find myself wandering through it a couple of times a month. However, the mark-ups they place on designers such as Marc by Marc Jacobs and T by Alexander Wang, for example, is extremely drastic. Why can they do this? Because Holt Renfrew is often the only upscale department store that carries luxury brands in Canada, essentially giving them monopoly power over the market that wants to buy designer pieces. The market for luxury goods in Canada is only a fraction of what it is in the United States, and even a smaller fraction when compared to Asia, so the demand for other shops to set up to compete with Holt Renfrew just isn’t here in Canada. Personally, I don’t think I should be paying $140 for a long, rayon tee shirt from either of the brands I mentioned above, so I will spend quite a bit of time hunting for a lower price online, at other stores or (to my next point)…
Ebay is your best friend.
Any bargain-loving fashionista knows that Ebay has a great selection of vintage fashions (just google “vtg blah blah blah”, preferably with the era inserted and you will find a plethora of unique items). However, Ebay is also a great haven for goods that were purchased by other fashionistas that didn’t fit, didn’t look right, were bad gifts, or didn’t have an exchange/return policy. I will shamelessly admit that ALL of my Alexander Wang pieces have come from Ebay, including my beloved Rocco bag, as well as a few fancy dresses I have yet to debut on the blog. However, even with that having been said, I have found authentic Alexander Wang dresses for $60-$150 that have retailed for up to $800 on multiple occasions on Ebay. Of course, one needs to be vigilant of fakes and imitations by paying close attention to the images posted by the seller and comparing those to images available on an online retailer’s site of the same item (if this exists).
Sharing is caring.
I touched upon this idea in this post here a few months ago, but it’s worth repeating because it is so important: shop the closets of your friends, mother, grandmother, etc. The reason why so many of us love shopping is the thrill of getting something new and finding a way to integrate it into the rest of our closet. However, this thrill is often momentary and is not an economically sound way to satisfy one’s shopping desires. My mom and I regularly exchange shoes and clothes between each other for months at a time (this would probably occur even more frequently if we lived in the same province), as we don’t differ significantly in shoe or clothing sizes. Of course, this works best when you and your friends are the same size, but even if you’re not, don’t discount what exchanging bags, jewelry, and other accessories can do for your wardrobe!
Get your money back.
I caused quite a few laughs back in September when my friends found out my closet broke due to the weight of my clothes (this was only fixed two weeks ago…handiwork is NOT one of my strengths, sadly), which made me realize that I probably need to get rid of some items. Three years ago, when I was living back in Ontario, I started consigning my unwanted, gently used clothes to a consignment shop: it benefitted both myself and my community, as I received a decent commission and contributed to a local, independent business. I prefer consignment stores over thrift stores mainly because it has been pre-selected: I am horribly lazy and often don’t like spending an entire afternoon to rummage through piles and racks of clothes. Yes, thrift stores are ninety-nine times out of one-hundred cheaper than consignment stores, but it all depends on how much time and money you are willing to put into hunting for the next standout pieces for your wardrobe. Don’t have a nearby store to hand-off your formerly beloved pieces to? Don’t discount online services like Copious – they only charge a 6% commission rate for each item you sell, which is a lot less than most in-person consignment stores will charge.
Four words: Holt Renfrew Last Call.
Holt Renfrew Last Call in Vaughan, Ontario (just north of Toronto) is a fashionista’s dream – a behemoth of designer merchandise at severely discounted prices. The reason I especially love HRLC is because all of the items that didn’t sell in the other Holt Renfrew stores end up here – often, these are the more “out-there” items that shoppers with a rather tepid taste in fashion wouldn’t purchase. For me though, this often translates into statement pieces that I adore. My Dolce and Gabbana booties, Fendi purse, and Pauric Sweeney snakeskin bag have all been purchased at HRLC, with price tags that are mere fractions of their original price. As for the US, I have heard awe-worthy stories about shoppers finding fantastic deals on items at Barney’s warehouse sales in New York and Los Angeles, but I have yet to experience one of these for myself. Just because this merchandise didn’t sell to the typical consumer doesn’t mean the fashionista with an eclectic taste won’t find something worthwhile. Also, follow brands you adore on Twitter to find out about independent warehouse sales they might be holding: this is how I have managed to score so many Mackage jackets (I have only paid full-price for one of them ).
Be a tax ninja.
If you have the opportunity to travel and are looking into a buying a new item, consider purchasing this item in the country you are visiting. As many of you probably know already, Canada is notorious for charging significantly higher prices on items that can be bought in the United States or Europe. I was surprised last time upon traveling to New York City to find a dress cheaper at Aritzia in the US compared to the same dress in Canada at a time when the Canadian dollar was at parity with the American dollar. A similar situation happened when I was in Milan four years ago and looked in to purchasing my beloved Miu Miu Matelasse bag – even with the Euro/Dollar conversion (and aided by getting the VAT back on my purchase – yay for Canadian citizenship!), I was able to purchase the bag for a much cheaper price compared to what I would have purchased it for back in Canada.
On the subject of taxes, I’m sure every girl in Canada who has ordered from Shopbop or Net-A-Porter is well-aware of the 30% import and duty taxes that are applied as soon as your parcel passes through Canadian customs. How do I avoid this? Well, quite frankly, if it’s a new website I’m ordering from, I cross my fingers and hope I don’t get taxed to death. Generally, UPS, FedEx, and DHL result in duty fees, while items shipped by USPS or Canada Post don’t (although, not always).
So there you go lovelies, this post has been in the making for a while now and this is just the short-list of tricks I use to save money – I hope you all have found it useful