To me, and many other women I know, scouting pre-loved designer goods is a sport.
It often starts with a street style pic you stumble across while trawling Pinterest during an uninspired hour at work.
You see the Gucci Wool Sweater, you love the Gucci Wool Sweater and now you need the Gucci Wool Sweater.
Only problem is, that dang fine sweater was worn by Federer‘s wife at the Australian Open and as a result, it’s sold out everywhere. This serves only to make that tiger embroidered, bubblegum pink number even more alluring.
While some might throw in the towel at this point, others start hunting.
Whether it be spending Saturday afternoons dropping into consignment stores in up-market suburbs, putting on ‘alerts’ for the item on eBay or sifting through ‘Buy, Sell, Swap’ groups on Facebook, hunters are dogmatic and they won’t stop until they’ve got that pullover on their person.
The feeling when you finally track down the item you’ve been lusting after? It’s second to none.
A woman who knows all about this feeling and has been lovingly facilitating it for almost three years is Brooke Marks, the founder of invite-only Facebook group HIGH END.
For the uninitiated, HIGH END is a private community to buy, sell and swap selected high-end women’s clothing, shoes and accessories within Australia.
What began for Marks as a place to sell a pair of designer shoes has exploded into a fully-fledged community of almost 50,000 fashion lovers.
Marks is the sole admin of the group and she manually approves every single member’s posts to ensure only special pieces are uploaded. That’s no mean feat as there’s currently 25,000 active ‘sale’ posts in the group. She’s also created a spin-off ‘discussion’ group where members can chat about everything from dry cleaners to wedding dresses. She jokes that it’s like the “new Vogue Forums,” and she’s not wrong.
Marks’ passion and dedication to the group is evident in that all the posts are a-grade, the rules of buying and selling are clear and there are barely any biffs between members. Watch footage of boxing day sales and you’ll understand why that last part is so incredible. (Never underestimate the savagery unleashed when two people want the same pair of loafers.)
PEDESTRIAN.TV spoke to Marks about how HIGH END became Facebook’s premier luxury selling group, and why you should consider bypassing the Prada store to go straight peer-to-peer.
PTV: Tell us a bit about yourself – how did HIGH END come to be?
M: I started to explore my style throughout my teenage years however it didn’t begin with luxury. It stemmed from a love of vintage and local designers. I would often op shop and find unique pieces but over the years I’d grown to appreciate the quality and craftsmanship of luxury goods and nothing has been comparable since.At first I just wanted to sell a few of my items but then it started to grow into a small community and I felt it was my duty to keep it growing.
What are your favourite consignment stores in Melbourne?
How do typical consignment stores operate?
Consignments stores generally rely on customers to provide stock to sell. Over the years many consignment stores build up a loyal customer base that then supply the store with stock on a regular basis.Majority of consignment stores have a commission structure of 60%-40% but there are sometimes variations of this for example if you are selling a Hermes bag they may only charge 20% of final selling fee. This is not commonly advertised but often discussed privately.
What are some common mistakes people make when buying pre-loved pieces?
The counterfeit industry is enormous and unfortunately it’s something we all have to be aware of when browsing the second hand market. I recommend using a website that offers in house authentication services and money back guarantee. That way you have peace of mind and can shop with ease knowing there are precautions taken.If purchasing directly from the seller, I always recommend using an authenticator. I personally use two separate authenticators to receive an accurate answer. If this can’t be done, use a third party payment service like PayPal so that you are covered if the item is a counterfeit product.In general most issues stem from the use of bank transfer and not using a third party payment service. If tracking is not provided, a parcel goes missing or an item arrives not as described or anything of the like it can be quite difficult to receive a refund. I always recommend using PayPal as it gives the seller and buyer protection, which is important when the unexpected occurs.
What are some of lesser known benefits of buying pre-loved pieces?
Fast fashion doesn’t interest me in the slightest and it’s costing us despite the deceiving small price tag. I’m a big believer in buying quality over quantity and having your items become apart of your life. I have never understood why some individuals would buy something, wear it once and get rid of it.It’s been very rewarding to know the group has helped recycle hundreds of thousand of items and knowing the hugely positive effect it has had on our environment.
Helping the environment and looking like a dime in a piece you hunted down yourself? It doesn’t get much better than that.
Photo: @carmengracehamilton / Instagram.