In a from-a-distance unassuming townhouse on East 81st Street in Manhattan, Designer Revival is a unique and treasured local store that sells vintage clothing and accessories to the likes of Naomi Campbell, the Olsen sisters and Catherine Zeta-Jones. It has been there for a quarter of a century, founded by Myrna Skoller and originally known as Designer Resale. Skoller was a pioneer in the high-end consignment clothing concept, where the store split the profit with the person who brought the items in. In 2015 she sold the store to current owner Tiffany Keriakos, interviewed here, who has expanded it, particularly online, where they move a lot of the merch.
Not all of the items are secondhand, some pieces are new, but all are remarkably marked down from their original price. So, for those of you who like shopping — and I know you’re out there — this is, I’m reliably told, a double score of exquisite quality and bargain.
Is there something for everyone in your store?
We definitely have something for everyone — we like saying our target customer is 21-80! We have everything for a young college graduate to a legacy shopper. We sell women’s clothing, but we have many men that come and shop, so I guess it just depends on the man!
Why do people want to buy someone else’s clothes? And aren’t they out of fashion by definition?
We like to call shopping vintage a glamorous treasure hunt. The ultimate fashionistas are always on the hunt for that one of a kind piece that no one else has and usually this comes with a very high price point, but with resale shops you can find these pieces at more accessible prices.
The definition of vintage is the piece has to be at least 20 years old and fashion is cyclical, so whatever was in fashion 20 years ago comes around again back in fashion!
Where does Designer Revival differ from good thrift shops?
Our store has a magnificently curated collection of items that are very well organized. While your traditional thrift stores have a ton of merchandise that may not be in the best condition and usually poorly organized. So it is overwhelming for the shopper. We also only carry high-end designer items, thrift stores have a limited assortment from high-end designers.
What was your vision for the store?
My vision has always been a glamorous treasure hunt with a friendly neighborhood vibe. We are like a hair salon where our staff knows a lot about our customers’ lives because they come in once a week — our merchandise changes daily.
You told me people are tired of fast fashion and that vintage shopping is good for sustainability. What do you mean?
Fast fashion has always been popular because there is immediate gratification for buying an item that is on trend for a very affordable price. However, people have become much more interested in resale stores. One of the reasons resale has grown drastically is because buying used items no longer has a stigma. People are also more aware now than ever of the ethical and environmental impacts associated with their purchases, which keeps them out of landfills.
What are the most expensive items you sell, and how long do they stick around?
A Hermès Birkin Bag for $15,000. Items like these are highly sought after, so they don’t last in the store for long.
What’s as low end as you’ll go?
We take jeans like Vince and Frame and even though they retail for around $200 we resell them for approximately $50.
What’s your personal guilty pleasure?
Five inch heels, Chanel, and anything in leopard print!!!