Can’t afford designer clothes? Who can? Unless, of course, you happen to be a venture capitalist or the heir to a property tycoon’s fortune. Otherwise, luxury labels are pretty much out of the question.
But the good news is that women who can afford these brands have discovered the wonderful world of consignment, which means the rest of us can afford to get into the fine-fashion action. And we have Jigme Nehring, Joanna Chaffin, and Courtney Watkins to thank. They’re the crew behind Mine & Yours (1060 Hornby Street), an impeccably curated secondhand shop that carries all of your fave brands at a fraction of the original price.
What makes it a cut above the average consignment shop is that instead of waiting for random people to drop off the dregs of their closet, these go-getters actively seek out Vancouver’s most stylish bloggers, housewives, and debutantes.
“We call them, we email them, we tweeted them: ‘Come in, sell to us,’ ” says Watkins, who gave the Straight a VIP tour of the L.A.–inspired clothing salon. “We specifically targeted those people we wanted, and then we also buy from the public Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.”
Their strategy has paid off. The store is jam-packed with everything you’d see in an exclusive Yaletown boutique, only it’s not brand-specific. Sure, Mine & Yours sells plenty of premium preloved pieces like a mint-condition, vintage black leather Chanel bag ($1,500) and a star-patterned, black-and-white Dolce & Gabbana silk shift dress with lace inserts and the tag still on ($325). But it also carries a lot of SoHo-chic labels like Rag & Bone and Acne Studios. Plus, the team isn’t above fast-fashion finds from places like Zara.
Watkins explains the selection process: “We’re like, ‘Is it something we would wear? Is it something our friends would wear? Is it something we’re seeing in the magazines right now?’ So even though it’s last year’s pieces, they’re still current and on trend.”
They’re so good at what they do, they’ve even converted some retail elitists.
“One of our first, very good suppliers came in, and she was a very wealthy girl who—I don’t even know if she’s ever worked a day in her life,” Watkins recalls. “Her hairdresser told her about our store—she didn’t even know what a consignment store was. So she came in and sold us tons of amazing items, but instead of taking cash, she took store credit.” (Happily, she’s been a regular ever since.)
In addition to privileged shopaholics, they also get a lot of disgruntled girlfriends selling them gifted goods.
“We were thinking of starting an ex-boyfriend rack,” Watkins jokes. “Girls will bring in bags or beautiful pieces, and even though I want it for the store, I’m still like, ‘Why would you ever want to get rid of this?’ And they’re like, ‘I just want it out. I don’t want to see it anymore—my ex gave it to me.'”
Apparently, there’s no shortage of douchebag boyfriends in this city, because these barely used designer threads and accessories just keep on flowing through the door of Mine & Yours—so much so that the store is overflowing with stock. Consequently, it looks like it will have to expand sometime in the near future.
“We keep getting pickier and pickier, but then the clothing people are bringing us keeps getting better and better,” Watkins says. “So yes, we are definitely outgrowing our space. The plan was always to open a second location.…but it just seems like that has to happen a little sooner than we thought.”