A Look Inside The Vault's Globetrotting Closet Buys

By Sarah Stallmann
In Style

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Providing a unique and super specialized service to clients has its obvious benefits, but none may be more special than a reality show concept based off of that particular service. For “Resale Royalty” vets Diana McCarthy Ford, Sue McCarthy and Laura Maurice, that specialized service just so happens to be one of the most fabulous for the fashionista—the closet buy, where Diana and Laura travel to “shop” closets across the globe to bring you the best of the best in designer resale goods. According to the duo, the closet buy has become a favorite for both in-town clients and clients from LA to New York and even as far as Paris! Have goods? Will travel!

Photo by Attilio D'Agostino

Photo by Attilio D’Agostino

 

What has been your favorite closet visit?
We have been in some of the most amazing closets ever. One of our favorites is designer Lela Rose, who lives in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood. Her closet was two stories with a red carpeted stairwell going up to the upper level, and carefully edited with vibrant, colorful pieces—many of which were her very own designs. Her living room floor boasted a runway that, with the flip of a switch, turned into a dining table that seated 20 guests. We bought many beautiful dresses and were in turn able to offer these to our cliental. We should mention that we disclose her name because she was part of the “Resale Royalty” series from Style Network and her closet was featured in an episode. Otherwise, we never kiss and tell. We are very confidential when it comes to our suppliers.

Are there certain closets that you visit on a regular basis?
We have a few stylists in New York that have us come a couple times a year and do a closet purge. These closets are amazing and sometimes overflowing with Saint Laurent, Chanel, Gucci, Celine and so much more. Many times these are easy in-and-out, up-and-down the freight elevator and back into the taxi with huge trash bags of amazing goods. Even in New York, no one will come to your house with a blank check and pay you for your goods! That’s why they call us.

What makes up the ideal closet buy?
A closet full of Lululemon, Vince, Theory, Eileen Fischer, Louis Vuitton in sizes 8-12. These are our most sellable brands and sizes. It’s what women wear every day and it’s what sells best in our stores. While we highlight luxury brands in our business, we still really love those everyday staples that most women crave.

What is the protocol as far as helping women decide what to sell and what to keep during a closet buy?
We know that there is something very personal about being literally inside someone’s closet, and we take that privilege seriously. We are never there to talk anyone out of items. We have actually, on many occasions, talked someone back into keeping something.

Say, for instance, someone has the iconic Judith Lieber bag. These bags can be sold upwards of $5,000 dollars in some markets but it goes back to the fact that it’s really only worth what someone is willing to pay. I mean, how often do you reach for the silver kitten bag embellished with rubies? Our customers generally don’t want to spend a fortune on a bag they carry once a month. Instead, we suggest that it might serve better as a keepsake for a family member. There are times when something just doesn’t resell well and instead of insulting someone with a low price, it’s best to just pass on it all together.

In addition to closet buys and local clients selling items to you in-store, are there any other ways you track down the best merch to fill the racks at The Vault?
We also have 15 thousand suppliers from all over the country that send us things. Many of whom simply ship out items and upon their arrival, we issue a check. Of course, most items have been carefully vetted by one of our head buyers already and we have agreed upon pricing and details. However, there are many people who just prefer the white glove, in-home closet buy experience.

Also, because we are leaders in our industry and have over 30 years of experience, we are able to authenticate on the spot and do not need outside authentication services as do some resellers. This makes it quick and easy when dealing with designer and luxury heritage brands.

Has there been a closet buy that you consider the most strange or unusual?
We were contacted by a woman last year who lives in Dubai. She had seen our show airing in her country and was inquiring about a closet buy in her home … in Dubai. After many conversations about her collection of Hérmes, Tom Ford custom clothing and her three shoe closets, it turned out she didn’t want to actually sell anything but for us to come to Dubai and see her closet and watch her dress up. So kind of like a grown-up girl playdate in a closet … in Dubai. Definitely goes under strangest.

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