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 youworked in fashion?
Lepiner: I have actually neverworked in fashion, I just have always had a liking, a fashion sense, which Ipicked up from my mother. She is a fashionista, a very classic and sophisticatedwoman. She indirectly taughtme how to dress and what to like, how to find the quality of clothing withoutthe snobbery.
TooFab: What was your career before?
Lepiner: I used to work inthe hospitality industry for Intercontinental Hotels, I ran the housekeepingdepartment. I like to work with a lot of people, it was exciting for me. I've gone through theyears where everything's about your kids and I loved that, but I had had enoughof 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 allcame around at the perfect time. I have a 9-year old daughter and 6-year oldson. They were in school all day. That's how I fell into getting a job at Second Time Around. I felt the wholeatmosphere was exactly what I was looking for. It's a fun place to come andshop and be creative. It didn't have a stuffy feel to it, and the clientelethat come in are much more gracious, they ask you for collections, for stylinghelp, 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'veworked at Second Time Around for a little over a year, part-time.
TooFab: Have you shopped there?
Lepiner: All the time, Ishop everywhere all the time, I justlike to find a deal. I love consignment shops, it's a great way to findoriginal things that were not in the department stores. That was my bigpet peeve. I would go to department stores and pick something that 25 otherpeople picked, but at these consignmentshops I would find original items.
TooFab: What is the best purchase you've made at a consignmentstore?
Lepiner: I have purchasedmagnificent Fendi coats, original pieces that I think maybe they hit the runwayand that was it. I've foundChristian Louboutin shoes at such great deals, and for me that is what thethrill of shopping in consignment stores is all about. I love findingaffordable things and finding that great deal. It's just as exciting as walkinginto Barneys and finding Jil Sander boots and being like 'I have to have thisright now.' With the times the way they are, it's more fun for me to get thatdeal, rather than just getting the high from that one purchase. Sometimes I'll see a shoe at a store and Iwill say to myself, that shoe is going to end up at a consignment store.
TooFab: What is the most expensive thing that has come throughthe doors of Second Time Around?
Lepiner: We get a lot offurs, especially at our Upper East store. We get a lot of fun and fabulouscostume jewelry from Jennifer Miller which is very expensive. We get reallycontemporary but high end clothing -- every now and then we bring in Oscar de laRenta, Jean-Paul Gaultier, we have had a couple of those pieces. You name itwe 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 overaccessories. We had an amazing Missoni jacket that came in and I just fell inlove with it. We've gotten kind of cool converse sneakers, street stuff, whichI think is super cool. I think it's when we get the Christian Louboutin shoeswe all go crazy. I am just waiting for the rhinestone Christian Louboutin shoesto come in.
TooFab: What is the craziest in-store experience you've had?
Lepiner: I haven't had a “crazyperson” come in, but I have had very eccentrically strange people who are tryingto sell me things that don't work. We know from experience it is not going tosell, then you end up making no money when you could make 10-15 dollars [byselling it] somewhere else. We have people who sell street jewelry, or peoplewho get offended that we haven't taken their clothing. We get irate people who storm out of the store. It's NewYork 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 andturn over your clothing, give us stuff that you would still wear but you knowyou're done with it. Basically, whenyou're cleaning out your closet, if you haven't worn it in a year or two, thenyou're not going to wear it again. Generally, things that you don't like are not going to dowell.
TooFab: How do you determine the price?
Lepiner: We usually like toprice a third to a quarter of retail value. We will research that and try toget it close to a quarter of what it was when it was sold. But if someonebrings us something new, we will price it at about half of that. It's tricky, welike to do the research and get the pricing as close as possible.
TooFab: What is the biggestmisconception about consignment?
Lepiner: I think the biggestmisconception is that people think you're buying thrifty and dirty clothing. Withour store, we take in things as well taken care of as possible, as clean aspossible. We even ask for things to be dry cleaned, so we really stick to thatcriteria. I think you should give Second Time Around a chance. We havelaundered clothing that's clean. It's often that you will find brand newclothing that we sell for half the price.
TooFab: What are the top trends for the upcoming season?
Lepiner: Wehave a lot of different looks coming out which makes it so much fun. I love myManolo Blahnik Mary Janes, I am so excited that they are coming back. Reallyfor me, it's about the fur and how they are still holding strong. I see a lotof fur and fur trims. [A] favorite right now is the bright colored J Brandjeans, the blues and the red. I am a big fan of Elizabeth and James, they areprobably my favorite right now.
To see more of Karina and company, tune into "Fashion Hunters" every Tuesday night at 10:30pm on Bravo.