The top 10 cheap designer clothing stores in Toronto
Cheap designer clothing in Toronto is everywhere - provided you know where (or when) to look. Toronto's consignment stores are a huge trove of designer scores - the time served by that 3.1 Phillip Lim dress in someone else's closet can translate to major savings. Discount retailers often leave high-end pieces hanging on racks alongside no-name threads (case in point: the $35 Pink Tartan pants I spied at Winners a few weeks ago). And while the three-or-four-figure price tags in many of Toronto's designer boutiques can be intimidating, with a little patience, those prices may eventually shrink to fit your budget.
Of course, with any of these options, there's an element of digging involved, whether you're searching for an affordable price among splurges, or a piece in your size at the secondhand store. My advice? Learn to love the thrill of the hunt. It'll make victory that much sweeter. (And even if you could just walk into a store and pay full price for all this stuff - really, where's the fun in that?)
Here are the top 10 stores for cheap designer clothing in Toronto.
Replacing the warehouse-like Holt Renfrew Last Call store at Vaughn Mills, the bright, cheery, trend-focused hr2 is set to defend Holts' market share from budget-luxury chains like Nordstrom Rack. The flourescent-lit space is a far cry from the luxe atmosphere of the mothership -- but who can argue with bargains like $99 Rebecca Minkoff handbags and $299 Prada shoes? New stock is brought in weekly, but take note: Though some lines are carried in both stores, there's no product overlap between the two, meaning that piece at Holt's you're coveting probably won't end up here.
A newcomer on Dundas West, VSP stocks smashing secondhand goods with a careful eye. For discerning bargain hunters, that means pieces from the likes of Marni, Alexander McQueen and Chanel marked down as far as 80%. (Mind you, that still leaves some items in the four-figure zone.) Not everything there is designer -- we spied some Zara and Asos items rubbing elbow patches with the high-end stuff -- but every piece there is fabulous, and just waiting for the right person to come along and snatch it up.
This Queen West consignment store is a favourite spot for those looking to ditch -- and replace -- their designer duds. That describes most of the clothing here, including a shelf full of shoes (including multiple Louboutins and Manolos) and locked cases of bags from the likes of Valentino and Vuitton. Nearly everything is 40-60% off retail; bags seem to be given less of a price break. (My own personal one that got away: A Bao Bao Issey Miyake tote marked down to $300.)
It seems obvious to put the sprawling designer emporium that occupies much of a floor in Hudson's Bay's Queen St. flagship on this list, but the Room's sales are the stuff of legend. When things go on markdown, they go on markdown -- a pal of mine scored Pierre Hardy wedge boots for $40. Late summer and winter are prime sales season; for some real high-octane treasure hunting, wait for their August and January sales at the Arcadian Court building at Bay and Bloor, where you can find Erdem and Thakoon for up to 80% off.
Sure, it's home to plenty of no-name sweaters and juniors-sized jeans, but the discounter's "Runway at Winners" pieces step up the thrill of the hunt in a major way. Twice a year, in late summer and late winter, Winners' designer offerings are unleashed upon the masses in a Runway sale event; there's everything from Pink Tartan and Theory right up to Marni and Givenchy (I once spied a Nightingale). Designer pieces seem to hang around longest at the College Park and Bloor locations; other hot spots include Queen and Portland, Lawrence and Bathurst and Leaside.
You may need a little luck and patience to get to the designer gold at this T.O. chain of consignment stores, but the steals are worth it. Their Yonge and Eglinton store seems to get the lion's share of the big-ticket items, but killer finds also pop up frequently at the Queen Street West stores -- including a Marni necklace I once traded for $99 worth of closet castoffs. For up-to-the-minute info, follow their Instagram account; the store's staff will put up some of the most exciting new finds.
The Cat's Meow
Shopping at the Cat's Meow could be the difference between nabbing a Chanel piece for $1000 instead of $3000. The Avenue Road consignment store plays host to plenty of vintage items, mainly from the '50s, '60s and '70s, right alongside modern pieces from mainstay luxury labels like Vuitton, Prada, Diane von Furstenberg and Alexander McQueen. There's also a small sale room at the back where 60-day-old items eventually wind up; between seasons, they'll occasionally put that entire room on further markdown. (On another note: somebody get over there and buy this Prada S/S 2000 skirt. Do it for me.)
Jonathan + Olivia
Known primarily for bringing edgy streetwear labels to Toronto, this Ossington boutique isn't really famous for deep deals. But when sale season hits - that's after Boxing Day and in the summer -- you'll find last season's Kenzo and 3.1 Phillip Lim selling for between 50% and 75% off. All it takes is a little patience. (They'll also occasionally host trunk shows and sample sales.)
A recent transplant to Yonge and St. Clair, Haute Classics focuses on barely-worn designer pieces -- from the last three years or newer. That means one of the largest stashes of gently-used designer bags in the city, with Balenciaga, Vuitton and Miu Miu among the offerings, as well as reams of used denim. Prices start in the low hundreds, on average.
This small boutique at Jane and Annette, helmed by former Holt's buyer Nadia Trelle, has played host to plenty of Louboutins, Hermes scarves, and Chanel bags (all of them authentic, thanks to her keen buyer's eye), with a couple of mid-range brands mixed in. Check the store's Twitter feed for new buys.
Lauren Baker's designer consignment business was once an Ossington mainstay; the business moved in 2011 and eventually shifted to focus on online sales. Now, they sell consigned items primarily through their site, but visits to their studio can be made by appointment. Of particular interest to bargain hunters: the "$150 and under" and "new and unworn" sections.
What did I miss? Add your favourite store to buy cheap designer clothing in the commenst below.