Story by Justine Iaboni. Photography by Joseph Vocics.
My Favourite Dresses (634 Yonge St., 2nd floor, 416-944-9207, myfavouritedresses.com)
Guess what? Just a few blocks south of Yonge and Bloor—otherwise known as Toronto’s high-end shopping mecca—you can snag a Chanel bag for a fraction of the price, or shamelessly pimp out your prized designer items to repair some of the financial damage previously incurred on Bloor.
For the sake of honest journalism, I chose to do the latter on my first visit to My Favourite Dresses, the consignment/rental boutique recently opened by jewellery designer and stylist Trisha Mishich and fashion designer Salem Moussallam. With a gold leather Gucci belt in hand, I climbed the staircase beside a shady, all-Lycra dress shop and ascended to a private showroom that looked like it could have been Christian Dior’s bedroom on the Right Bank—the pretty Dior bags on display and sparkling chandelier adding to my Parisian vision.
Although there are a few Louis Vuittons, a couple Chanels, Balenciaga, Gucci, Prada and Dior bags to rent à la Jennifer Hudson (or to buy à la Carrie Bradshaw) the main attraction here are the dresses.
From extravagant Lafée gowns with all the trimmings for a night at the opera to the Brose crystalline mini tube dress for a night on the dance floor, My Favourite Dresses is a one-stop shop when it comes to compiling a killer outfit for any occasion. I’m especially in love with the Hervé Léger electric coral and black striped mini-dress and the double-lined jersey cocktail dresses by Joeffer Caoc in lime green, lilac, navy and white. At just $50 to $100 dollars per rental, why would anyone ever choose to be caught dead wearing the same dress twice?
Salem shares the sentiment. He tells The Style Notebook why.
Consignment is already big in cities like New York, but movies like Sex and the City and fashion blogs are really allowing consignment and renting to become more widespread, acceptable forms of shopping. Do you find there’s a growing market for this type of shopping in Toronto?
“I feel that yes, there is a growing market for it in Toronto, but I also feel that most people don’t understand it and they’re still stuck in that retail-only rut. I’ll give you an example. Right now it’s prom season and girls are buying dresses for prom. I’ll talk to some and tell them they can rent a dress for the big night at a fraction of the price. Most of them are like, ‘What? You can rent a dress?’ I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to save a couple hundred bucks and just rent a stunning dress for the night. Everyone sees you in it, you get photographed in it, and you never have to wear it again. Because let’s face it—I’ll bet your prom dress is still hanging in your closet and has never been worn since that night.”
What’s different about My Favourite Dresses compared to other consignment stores in Toronto?
“What makes it different is how much you make. In Toronto, a lot of people don’t like to put their designer items in consignment because they lose a significant amount of money, so they end up just hanging on to their things even if they’re tired of them or don’t wear them anymore. Most stores will give the owner 40 percent, whereas at My Favourite Dresses, we give them 70 percent of the price their item will sell for in consignment. Also, our customers have the option to rent the pieces they find here for fashion shows, gala events, photo shoots or even just a night out on the town, in which case a person still makes money every time someone rents their piece. And not to worry—we take care of the dry cleaning.”
What are the steps someone would take to put something on consignment?
“Well, first you would either call Trisha or me to make an appointment, then during the appointment we would agree on a price based on how much you originally paid for the item and what condition it’s in. We’re pretty organized here—everything’s listed on an electronic inventory, and we don’t accept just any item. We’re very selective because we want to offer our customers the highest quality possible, the latest styles and the unique feeling that they are privy to a secret world of fashion and shopping.”
Do you think that with the advent of consignment and renting, people are beginning to put less sentimental value on the material items they buy and would be more predisposed to part with something after wearing it for only one or two seasons?
“Definitely. I mean, fashion is supposed to be fun and not some serious commitment for life. When I go shopping I don’t want to be thinking about how much wear I’ll get out of something. If I like something right then and there, I’ll buy it and forget about how many seasons I can wear it for and if it will look good 10 years from now. That’s why I think consignment is genius. It allows people to be bolder when it comes to buying trendy items because the prospect of resale is more and more likely, and we always make sure you get top dollar for your things. Seriously though, I bet there are so many people in Toronto that don’t even wear half the designer items in their closets. I’d love to just raid all the fashionistas’ closets in this city—I really think that Toronto has a consignment market just itching to get out!”