Hunting for bargains in Paris consignment shops

Shopping in Paris is a mixed blessing.  On the one hand, you’ll find beautiful, amazing things you will treasure forever.  On the other hand, the prices can be so high that they take the fun right out of it.

No wonder Parisians coined the term “leche-vitrine,” which loosely translated means “window licking.”

But if you have your heart set on coming home with a piece of Parisian haute couture, there are ways to do it without breaking the bank.

Fashion-forward Parisians won’t wear the same designer outfit more than once.  And they certainly won’t wear something from last year’s collection this year.  Instead, they’ll take their unwanted items to a “depots-vente,” which is a high-end consignment shop that specializes in designer clothes.

Because the clothes in most of these shops are nearly perfect, they’re not cheap.  Even at 50% off retail – or more – they’re still an investment.  And most of the best consignment stores are a little out of the way for the average tourist.  But if you know couture and are willing to make the trek, you can score some serious bargains – a Chanel suite for €1000 or a Hermes scarf for €150.

Here are some of the best consignments shops in Paris for high fashion bargains:

1)    Reciproque is the oldest (founded in 1978), biggest, and best-known consignment shop in Paris.  In addition to clothes, there’s tableware, artwork, and furniture.  It’s actually made up of seven boutiques, and as consignment stores go, it’s pretty well organized.  As a rule, people either love Reciproque or hate it.  They’re at 88 and 95 rue de la Pompe in the 16th.

2)    Fan-Fan’s Depot Vente has friendlier owners than some places.   If you have something in mind – perhaps Hermes, Vuitton, or Dior – they can help you find it.  There aren’t a lot of small sizes here, but there are usually nice belts, handbags, and accessories.  They’re on rue Mayet.

3)    Conveniently located in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, Depot Vente de Buci-Bourbon is worth spending some time in.  There are actually two shops – one specializing in classic vintage couture and one selling Gaultier, Yamamoto, and other trend setters.  The address is 6 rue le Bourbon-le-Chateau

4)    Located in the 14th, Priscilla has very good prices on classics from designers like Max Mara, Kenzo, Yves Saint Laurent, Sonya Riekel, and Christian Dior.  You’ll find Priscilla at 4 rue Mouton-Duvernet.

5)    Le Jupon Rouge features fun clothes by up-and-coming designers.  If you’re lucky, you’ll find a blouse by Agnes B or Ungaro, or shoes from Stephane Kelian or Repetto.  It’s at 9 rue de Rochechouart (in the 9th).

6)    Griff-Troc often has just what you’re looking for – Valentino, Dolce & Gabbano, Dior, Chloe, and Hermes at prices that are good, but not exactly a steal.  They’re at 119 Boulevard Malesherbes (in the 17th).

7)    If you’re staying in the Marais, you’ll want to check out Odetta at 76 rue des Tournelles.  It’s open on Sundays, which is rare.

8)    Another Marais boutique, Alternatives stocks clothes worn by models for photo shoots, so they’re hardly worn, but pretty small.  Look for Prada and Miu Miu.  It’s at 18 rue de Roi de Sicile.

9)    Free “P” Star is a vintage shop favored by Sofia Coppola and Kirsten Dunst who shopped here during the filming of Marie Antoinette.  Prices are very good and their stock turns over quickly.  8 rue Ste-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie

10) If you’re willing to travel, Vallee Village is about 30 minutes from Paris by rail.  It’s an up-market outlet mall with 90 luxury ready-to-wear boutiques including Agnes B, Armani, Christian Lacroix, Givenchy, Kenzo, and Versace.  You can also take the Cityrama shuttle bus from Place des Pyramids each morning.

1) Reciproque
2) Fan-Fan’s Depot-Vente
3) Depot Vente de Buci-Bourbon
4) Priscilla
5) Le Jupon Rouge
6) Griff-Troc
7) Odetta
8) Alternatives
9) Free “P” Star

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