Who doesn’t love a great bargain, especially when it comes to those sought-after designer duds? Bravo’s new reality series “Fashion Hunters” follows four fashionistas of the Second Time Around consignment shop in New York City as they scour the town for high-end fashions for those of us on a budget.
TooFab caught up with star Karina Lepiner who gave us the skinny on the joy of finding a good deal, what trends are hot for Fall, and how you too can turn your closet into cash.
TooFab: How long have you worked in fashion?
Lepiner: I have actually never worked in fashion, I just have always had a liking, a fashion sense, which I picked up from my mother. She is a fashionista, a very classic and sophisticated woman. She indirectly taught me how to dress and what to like, how to find the quality of clothing without the snobbery.
TooFab: What was your career before?
Lepiner: I used to work in the hospitality industry for Intercontinental Hotels, I ran the housekeeping department. I like to work with a lot of people, it was exciting for me. I’ve gone through the years where everything’s about your kids and I loved that, but I had had enough of that and it was time to do something fun and for myself.
TooFab: Is it hard to balance motherhood and a career?
Lepiner: No, it all came around at the perfect time. I have a 9-year old daughter and 6-year old son. They were in school all day. That’s how I fell into getting a job at Second Time Around. I felt the whole atmosphere was exactly what I was looking for. It’s a fun place to come and shop and be creative. It didn’t have a stuffy feel to it, and the clientele that come in are much more gracious, they ask you for collections, for styling help, and I felt that was where I wanted to be at that point.
TooFab: How long have you worked at Second Time Around?
Lepiner: I’ve worked at Second Time Around for a little over a year, part-time.
TooFab: Have you shopped there?
Lepiner: All the time, I shop everywhere all the time, I just like to find a deal. I love consignment shops, it’s a great way to find original things that were not in the department stores. That was my big pet peeve. I would go to department stores and pick something that 25 other people picked, but at these consignment shops I would find original items.
TooFab: What is the best purchase you’ve made at a consignment store?
Lepiner: I have purchased magnificent Fendi coats, original pieces that I think maybe they hit the runway and that was it. I’ve found Christian Louboutin shoes at such great deals, and for me that is what the thrill of shopping in consignment stores is all about. I love finding affordable things and finding that great deal. It’s just as exciting as walking into Barneys and finding Jil Sander boots and being like ‘I have to have this right now.’ With the times the way they are, it’s more fun for me to get that deal, rather than just getting the high from that one purchase. Sometimes I’ll see a shoe at a store and I will say to myself, that shoe is going to end up at a consignment store.
TooFab: What is the most expensive thing that has come through the doors of Second Time Around?
Lepiner: We get a lot of furs, especially at our Upper East store. We get a lot of fun and fabulous costume jewelry from Jennifer Miller which is very expensive. We get really contemporary but high end clothing — every now and then we bring in Oscar de la Renta, Jean-Paul Gaultier, we have had a couple of those pieces. You name it we have it, but as fast as it comes in is as fast as it slides out.
TooFab: What is the coolest thing you have seen at your store?
Lepiner: I go bananas over accessories. We had an amazing Missoni jacket that came in and I just fell in love with it. We’ve gotten kind of cool converse sneakers, street stuff, which I think is super cool. I think it’s when we get the Christian Louboutin shoes we all go crazy. I am just waiting for the rhinestone Christian Louboutin shoes to come in.
TooFab: What is the craziest in-store experience you’ve had?
Lepiner: I haven’t had a “crazy person” come in, but I have had very eccentrically strange people who are trying to sell me things that don’t work. We know from experience it is not going to sell, then you end up making no money when you could make 10-15 dollars [by selling it] somewhere else. We have people who sell street jewelry, or people who get offended that we haven’t taken their clothing. We get irate people who storm out of the store. It’s New York City, so we get all walks of life.
TooFab: What tips do you have for people to sell clothes?
Lepiner: My advice is to make a little cash and turn over your clothing, give us stuff that you would still wear but you know you’re done with it. Basically, when you’re cleaning out your closet, if you haven’t worn it in a year or two, then you’re not going to wear it again. Generally, things that you don’t like are not going to do well.
TooFab: How do you determine the price?
Lepiner: We usually like to price a third to a quarter of retail value. We will research that and try to get it close to a quarter of what it was when it was sold. But if someone brings us something new, we will price it at about half of that. It’s tricky, we like to do the research and get the pricing as close as possible.
TooFab: What is the biggest misconception about consignment?
Lepiner: I think the biggest misconception is that people think you’re buying thrifty and dirty clothing. With our store, we take in things as well taken care of as possible, as clean as possible. We even ask for things to be dry cleaned, so we really stick to that criteria. I think you should give Second Time Around a chance. We have laundered clothing that’s clean. It’s often that you will find brand new clothing that we sell for half the price.
TooFab: What are the top trends for the upcoming season?
Lepiner: We have a lot of different looks coming out which makes it so much fun. I love my Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes, I am so excited that they are coming back. Really for me, it’s about the fur and how they are still holding strong. I see a lot of fur and fur trims. [A] favorite right now is the bright colored J Brand jeans, the blues and the red. I am a big fan of Elizabeth and James, they are probably my favorite right now.
To see more of Karina and company, tune into “Fashion Hunters” every Tuesday night at 10:30pm on Bravo.