Designer consignment store Moss fills its racks with brand-name garments purchased from the wardrobes of Austin women. Its employees select clothing according to certain procedures, and they only buy contemporary attire in what they call “excellent” condition. Story and Photos by Julia Duke
The consignment process works like this: First, Austin’s most stylish walk into the doors of Moss, dropping off clothes, shoes, bags and jewelry items that they would rather do away with. Next, Moss gauges the style, the quality and the likelihood of the sale, which store manager Sari Warenoff compares to “shopping in over a thousand of the best closets."
Although Moss purchases a large volume of clothes, Warenoff adds that most pieces do not hang around for long. “Some of the stuff that walks in the door daily walks out the door daily,” she says. Warenoff made her mark in luxury retail 15 years ago as a personal shopper for Saks Fifth Avenue. Over the past three years, she says that she has watched the store grow. “We've been so lucky that we have some serious shoppers in this town,” she says. Warenoff notes that all of Moss' retail must be relevant to what women are wearing today. Everything accepted must be designer — J. Crew does not cut it.
The store offers a wide range of brands, including classic designer staples, such Chanel, Alexander McQueen, Prada, Alexander Wang, Gucci and Diane Von Furstenberg, but the list does not stop there. A beautiful pair of Manolo Blahniks sits on the shelves, a black Givenchy double-breasted coat hangs on the rack and a Gucci ostrich skin chain strap bag from the 1973 collection rests on the glass countertop. As for Warenoff's favorites, she lists the Gucci bag and some Yves Saint Laurent gold-plated loafer pumps — available in black and bubblegum pink. “We focus on buying for the women of Austin, which is the broadest spectrum under the sun. We cater to everybody, because everybody will walk in here and want something,”she says.
Warenoff says that the store's consignors bring in merchandise that they previously purchased in shops all over the country. For this reason, most of the items in Moss are exclusive sales and cannot be found in other stores in the Austin area. The prices in the store vary, but they are typically 50 to 70 percent off of the original retail price. Both the store and the seller make a profit, but only if the item sells. If it does, the consignor goes home with 45 percent of the final sale's profit. If the item does not sell within 90 days, it heads back to the closet it came from. Moss donates anything that the consignor decides to leave behind to local charities, including Settlement Home and Dress for Success.
Moss owner Masha Poloskova opened the high-end consignment store in December 2010 after she witnessed the market for contemporary designer pieces as co-owner of the vintage store Feathers. This summer, Poloskova and her team plan to open a sister store, Garment, which will sell vintage-inspired pieces. The storefront will neighbor Moss, but for now, Moss houses jewelry collections, ManiaMania and Leah Ball, which will eventually be available at Garment.
Warenoff credits the high demand for used clothing and vintage pieces on the fad for recycling and the economy. She is confident that the new store will be a success, because Moss has a pretty loyal following of consignors and customers. “They trust us and we rely on them,” she says.
Monday – Saturday from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Sunday from noon - 6 p.m.
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