A few years back it was practically unheard of for Middle Eastern women to buy second hand luxury goods, the mere act in itself fell somewhere under a category of honor crimes. But as the word vintage began to take on a new, more attractive meaning, suddenly pre-owned items didn’t feel like such a shame after all. The idea of owning a piece of history like a vintage Chanel Flap bag, Birkin or Cartier Love bracelet has now become a source of pride. Not to mention that fact that you can now actually own a Birkin for $10,000 instead of $20,000. Online designer luxury resale and consignment stores have been around for years but as of lately the boom has been astounding. And it works for everyone, women can now make a small return on selling their unloved designer items instead of letting them collect dust in their closets and others who can’t or would rather avoid hefty retail prices can still wear the designer models they love.
But here’s where things get tricky. Although many of the websites and stores claim to have in-house teams of luxury experts and seasoned inspectors who meticulously authenticate each item, there has been the occasional claim that a few have been passing of counterfeit goods as the real thing. That’s why it’s really important you do some research before you decide on who you’re going to choose.
So I’ve gone ahead and compiled a list for you of both consignment and luxury resale stores in the Lebanon, the Middle East and internationally in no particular order which I recommend.
1. Garage Luxe
The leading store of its kind in Lebanon, Garage Luxe isn’t exactly an e-commerce store just yet (their website is under construction) though they do showcase most of their new arrivals on social media platforms including their Facebook page and Instagram. So when you see an item you like you can simply send them a message via Whatsapp/call/ or email them and book a private appointment, yes private, to ensure their client’s anonymity and comfort they don’t accept walks-ins and you’re free to browse around at your own pace. You’ll just have to be a little swift as things tend to get sold faster than you can imagine.
2. Washed and Found
It’s been reported that Washed and Found were actually the first of their kind to brave the stigma and set up shop in Lebanon and that’s why I included them here. You can purchase their items online and they deliver to both Lebanon and worldwide but they’ll also be happy to welcome you by appointment. You can also fill out a consignment form to sell your items and they’ll contact you in 3 days. The prices are very competitive but they also have a somewhat of a miniscule more out-dated collection as compared to the rest on this list.
3. The Closet
The Closet is renowned as one of the leading consignment stores in the region for pre-owned bags and accessories and also has one of the highest resale rates and one of my personal favorites. They have a mammoth collection that includes many current models and not just the classics you see everywhere and they are popular for picking items in fantastic condition. They also offer new handbags for sale. The Closet also has one of the largest vintage Chanel bag collections you will see on any online resale site and they’re super quick to answer any inquiry on Whatsapp. You can also visit them at their boutique in Dubai at Jumeirah Centre. Keep up faster with them on Instagram.
4. OMG Fancy That
Having been established in late 2013, OMG Fancy that is slowly gaining traction in the UAE although their social media presence is weak. Louboutins, Valentinos and YSL Tributes are just a few of the many shoes you can find at OMG Fancy That’s site. This Dubai-based business established by two young entrepreneurs only collects high-end brands and has even developed an app that can help you stay up to date with all their new arrivals. They deliver worldwide.
5. The Real Real
This online consignment marketplace for luxury goods is one of the most recommended in the world, with celebrities like Jennifer Garner and Whitney Port having sold some of their designer items here. You won’t see any of those old raggedy boring models as the items are curated by some of Hollywood’s best stylists and its not just high-end, you can also find other medium range items from Tory Burch or Alice +Olivia. But you can’t browse unless your sign up. The Real Real have put their expertise into a mobile app that will also allow consumers to monitor the resale value of a designer good before even buying it! They currently do not ship to Lebanon.
6. The Fashionphile
A veteran in the secondary market for luxury resale, The Fashionphile has one of the most extensive collections online, what I love the most about them is how detailed they are about the condition of each item and how easy it is to browse their website. You also have a section where you can search by style. Although they don’t ship directly to Lebanon they actually partnered with MY USA who can provide you with a US shipping address or you can ship them to a UAE address.
Taxes and Custom “Clearance” Fees
I’m constantly asked about shipping to Lebanon and import taxes on luxury goods. Yes, you get charged ridiculous sums of money by what is considered VAT and an additional custom clearance fees on any luxury item. Let’s just say its Lebanon’s way of deterring you from shopping abroad. The amount can vary, but I’ve once had to pay $90 dollars in taxes and clearance fees on a $100 item. So be warned.