Vancouver’s booming pre-owned luxury fashion market is often associated with women, as preloved handbags and designer apparel change hands in an industry expected to grow 15– 20 per cent over the next four years. Motivated in part by environmental concerns around waste, many women are also eager to find long-lasting pieces at a discount.
But are men catching the pre-owned luxury wave too? What options exist locally, and how can the first-time shopper differentiate between “archival,” “luxury resale,” and other obscure niches that fall under the umbrella of second hand? Fortunately for the fashionable man looking to score a stylish deal, the right places exist—it just takes a little bit of digging.
Pre-Owned Luxury at a Glance
Many men will find their first exposure to pre-owned luxury online, where the action happens on Instagram and online marketplaces such as Grailed and The RealReal. These function as intermediaries between individual sellers and buyers, where the discerning collector can find anything from the latest Yeezy sneakers (recently called “the hottest men’s product in the world”) to decade-old designer jeans.
These platforms work well for buyers looking for a specific item, but the inability to feel and interact with a product before purchase turns many shoppers off. This is where local bricks-and-mortar retailers step in, leaning on the experiential and relationship-building aspects of shopping while offering a diverse mix of designer products.
The Curated Studio Shop
Room 312 occupies a small but airy space in a historic building sandwiched between big-name retailers on the Granville strip. Owner Alcee Li calls it a multipurpose studio showroom and features a curated collection of both men’s and women’s pre-owned luxury with a distinctly Japanese focus alongside homeware and a print selection from international publishers. For shops like this, high commercial rent and a decrease in foot traffic have resulted in an alternative shopping experience.
Li lists most of her products on Instagram and her website but acknowledges that part of what makes Room 312 special is the experience of shopping. She operates on an appointment-only model where she gets to know her customers one-on-one and handpicks items from an adjacent storage room if she thinks they fit the shopper’s personal style. Her products—sourced mainly from private sellers and overseas—are carefully selected and well researched, each carrying its story from one owner to the next.
“I’m just glad that people can find what they’re looking for in this small space—you don’t need to have a lot of choices. I feel like we have so many choices now,” she says through her mask at the studio before our conversation rapidly descends into an impromptu shopping session. “This space is a medium—things stop here and people come to take them to the next stop.”
Into the Archive
Another local sole proprietor has staked a claim as a specialist in all things archival, such as limited editions and unique collections from Japanese and European designers. U.K.-born James Faulkner started his eponymous shop Faulkner in 2017 with a 250-square-foot space on East Hastings Street and a passion for finding and showcasing unique men’s clothing. He posts newly acquired products on Instagram for his over 3,500 enthusiastic followers to reserve for pickup. A quick look on his account shows what archival means to him: 1980s Lacoste knitwear, Gucci loafers, and Nylon Stone Island jackets—all of which are sought after and sell quickly.
After a successful four-year stint at his storefront, Faulkner took a hiatus for this summer season before moving on to another space where he can continue to stock rare archival finds and his line of reworked vintage pieces.
“The past couple of years have been where buying used became cooler than buying new,” Faulkner remarks. “The story behind the clothes is huge. It’s my job to educate customers about their favourite brands and those that they haven’t heard of.”
Faulkner is a perfect example of what makes the independent pre-owned luxury market so interesting. These small businesses are nimble and well connected, able to reach their audience online and in-person, wherever they can set up a few clothing racks and a changing room. Faulkner may be taking a break for now, but we will see a new iteration of his well-followed shop soon enough.
Luxury Resale for All
You can’t talk about pre-owned luxury in Vancouver without mentioning the city’s most prolific consignment retailer, with eight locations: Turnabout Luxury Resale. Founder and owner Joy Mauro has seen profound changes in the market over 43 years of business, especially in recent years for male customers.
“In the past two to three years, we have seen a huge shift in men’s desire to shop resale,” she explains. “Today men are more in touch with dealing with their wardrobe, and they are more interested in finding great pieces for a good price.”
Mauro recalls the days when many of her male customers were new business grads or front-of-house restaurant workers. Now she can barely keep the shelves stocked with high-value designer labels such as Gucci, Burberry, and Off White.
Part of the fun of Turnabout is the thrill of hunting for the right piece in its well-stocked men’s racks for the luxury gems.
Why Pre-Owned Luxury Matters
As pre-owned luxury develops further into subniches, the owners of these local shops seek to remind consumers that this space isn’t motivated by snobbery. Pre-owned, archival, and vintage all reflect the same core values: conscious consumption, reducing reliance on environmentally damaging practices, and promoting independent local business—which has already struggled so much during the pandemic.
Prices for entry-level pre-owned luxury items are often on par with mid-level retailers, and they are often better made, with long-lasting materials and timeless design. Even for hesitant shoppers who aren’t trying to change their wardrobe, pre-owned luxury is a great option for special occasions (especially with in-person formal events on the horizon) or finding deals on high-end techwear from brands like Arc’teryx.
So give luxury resale a chance, men of Vancouver. There is something out there for you.
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