Story by Justine Iaboni. Photography by Brendan Adam Zwelling.
Coco’s Closet (413 Jane St., 647-981-6870).
Nadia Trelle, a former associate buyer at Holt Renfrew, could easily become any girl’s new best friend. Not only is she très enthusiastic about all things fashion, she’s also a girl’s girl—which becomes clear within just a few minutes of watching her interact with her customers. She wants them to find the perfect dress, the perfect bag, or the perfect shoe, and she makes it her mission to help them succeed. (With a few Chanel bags on the shelves, how could she steer you wrong?)
Nadia’s consignment boutique, Coco’s Closet, is one of the first to pop up in the Bloor West Village area, after the recent success of shops like Fashionably Yours and LAB Consignment in the Queen West and Ossington neighbourhoods.
What strikes me most about the selection at Coco’s is the quality. The Postcard winter jacket with fur trim has surely never seen a Canadian winter, and a beautiful pair of Burberry rain boots have certainly never splashed in a puddle. The finds that particularly caught my eye were a Balenciaga Giant clutch and a Missoni knit twinset that I had to reach out and touch. You know, just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
What can we find in Coco’s Closet?
“I take things that are a year or two old, unless, of course, they’re classic pieces. An Hermès scarf from 20 years ago is still relevant, right? Ideally, I’m a mid-to-high end store. I have a Christian Dior dress, Armani, Prada, Gucci, Robert Rodriguez, but I also have some Theory pieces, as well as premium denim like Sevens and Citizens. I also carry the odd piece of Banana Republic. I’m really looking for up-to-date fashion. The boutique is 70 percent on the higher end of things, but I’m always looking for that fun fashion piece. If something comes along that I think is right for me, I’ll put it in the store.”
Why consignment versus retail?
“I began really liking the idea of consignment when I visited a few consignment boutiques in L.A and New York. I thought it would be nice to bring the same idea here to Toronto. Although I don’t do my own buys for the store, people come in and bring me their own merchandise. So far I’ve had great feedback. People are very happy with the selection here. It’s not a huge boutique—it’s very small and very selective. And I’m very picky.”
Why Jane and not Queen?
“I’m right across from Bobby Point. I wanted to be in the west end because I feel that there’s nothing really like this here. I actually get a lot of clients who would normally go somewhere in the east to do their consignment shopping. After having worked for Holts, I was aware of the demographics, and I also did some research of my own.
South Etobicoke is a great little area. High Park isn’t too far away and neither is the Junction, which is up-and-coming—I think the Junction is going to be like a nouveau Queen East. Coco’s Closet caters to the neighbourhood. I don’t think it will ever be like an Ossington or Queen West, but I do think this area is something to look out for.”
Style Map featured LAB Consignment’s Lauren Baker a few months ago, and she said the same thing about the Junction when she was putting on pop-up sales there before opening up on Ossington. Women would just come in busloads, loving her—they didn’t have anything like that in the Junction area.
“Yes, precisely. Now there’s a whole bunch of vintage boutiques opening up in the Junction and it’s starting to trickle down into this area. I mean, I’ve only been here for two months and I have a great following already. I think with a little bit of advertising to spread the word, people can come to know that they don’t have to go all the way to Queen to find consignment and vintage.”
Why do you think consignment is becoming such a burgeoning trend in Toronto?
“I think that people are striving more and more to find unique pieces, and consignment is one of the ways that you can find that one-of-a-kind piece that no one else will have. I also think that North Americans are more brand-driven than they have ever been. If you look at our parents and grandparents, they were never this brand-driven. So you have a whole generation of people buying into brands. Once they’re done with them, they aren’t really ready to let go of them, so they can put them on consignment and make some money. Consignment also brings brands to an income bracket that wouldn’t normally be able to afford luxury designer goods.”
Is consignment shopping a treasure hunt?
“Absolutely. For the launch party, I had renowned image consultant Wendy Woods come to the store. She founded The Refinery, an image consulting and personal styling firm, and she went around with customers to find their personal treasure at my boutique that day. I definitely think that with consignment, you need to come in over and over again. I tell my customers to feel free to come in on a weekly basis. You have to be committed.”
So with a title like Coco’s Closet, you have a few Chanel bags on hand?
“I do. I’ve got a few Chanels that I’m in the process of authenticating. Right now, I have Chanel sunglasses and a Chanel belt. I had a Chanel skirt, which I sold. Chanel comes in and out. The second I get it, it’s gone a few seconds later.”
What’s your process of authenticating a Chanel bag?
“Because of my background at Holts, I’ve worked hand-in-hand with these pieces so I usually can tell very quickly. I’m lucky enough to have a lot of friends that work in the industry as well so I can always bring a piece to them if I’m not sure. I’ll also do some research on the internet to see if a certain style has even been made. There’s the odd time where I’ll have to bring something right down to Bloor Street, but even they’re not always able to authenticate. If I’m really not sure, then I won’t take it. I’d rather not take it, than heaven forbid, have something in the store that’s, gulp, a knock-off. I think that’s the worst fate I could imagine right now. I can guarantee, you will never find a fake Chanel or fake anything in my closet.”
How did you transition from being an associate buyer for Holts to opening Coco’s Closet?
“I’ll give you a little bit of background. I did a tiered fashion degree at George Brown and then I did my BComm at Ryerson. My major was retail management, so I always wanted to own my own boutique. I was also interested in buying. I started working at Sears, learned a lot there, then I moved to Holts. I was an associate buyer for the jewellery department and I loved it, really loved it.
At the back of my mind, though, there was still this craving to open up my own store. I don’t think I could’ve done it without my experiences at Sears and Holt Renfrew. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable and confident enough to go solo.”
Nadia Trelle at Coco’s Closet.
Below, inside Coco’s Closet.
Read about other amazing Toronto boutiques—Robber, Love of Mine, LAB Consignment & more—in our Style Map section!