"Secondhand." The term might conjure up memories of hand-me-downs, like being forced into your elder sister's Capri-Sun-stained Hello Kitty backpack for all of third grade. (No, we haven't forgotten, mom.) Sadly, the phrase oftentimes translates to "old," "used," or even "thrifty."
But haven't you heard? "Used" is the new "new." Just because you bought something that's been previously owned does not mean that it's worn down or outdated. It may very well still be brand spankin' new, from this season with tags and all hanging from its untouched, Pima cotton neckline. Or, maybe it has seen multiple decades of John Lennon ripping the knickers off of Beatle groupies, aging like a fine wine. The scale of secondhand apparel is vast, and fiscally responsible -- oh, and not to mention, original.
Still not buying our argument for stylishly recycling? These Miami secondhand boutiques will testify on our behalf, turning you from mainstream doubter to a one-off believer. And don't worry. Both you and your wallet can thank us later.
See also: The Five Best Women's Boutiques in Miami
Going against the "secondhand equals ancient relics" theory, South Miami's upscale and high-end consignment boutique, Second Time Around, offers not only current brands and designer names, but barely touched items, as well. In fact, 70 percent of pieces that furnish the light and minimalistic square footage still have their original price tags attached. Though technically placed in the upscale-high-end arena on the retail map, the boutique still dons a wide range of snazzy prices (as low as $35 and up to several thousand) on names like BCBG, Diane Von Furstenberg, and even Mr. Out-of-the-box himself, Rick Owens. Toldja it was diverse.
Aside from its rainbow of brands and price points, the boutique maintains its "return business through the roof" by providing sterling customer service, and aims to enlighten its clientele about the "green" approach of shopping consignment.
"Consignment can be very confusing for people," Meghan Hanika, South Florida and Chicago area manager of the 40-year-old chain tells us, "so we really do take the time to walk people through how it works and make sure both our customers and our consigners are comfortable and happy."
Rabbits don't hop about mainstream shopping centers. They'd much rather burrow into a hole of bibbed, chiffon maxi dresses and feathered hats off of West Dixie Highway. And both locals and jet-setting European rabbits have no problem trekking to this North Miami vintage hub, The Rabbit Hole, for some one-of-kind finds.
Did you know that rabbits also aren't particularly keen on designers or name brands, either? "If we come across them, we'll grab. But we don't search for brands," says owner Tya Tiempetch. Instead, she and her crew search far and wide for their nameless gems and will even close the store a couple times a year just to do so. "We just got back from California yesterday," Tiempetch told us of their latest buying excursion.
Because of this "ban the brands" concept, the store keeps the cost per item ultra low. Imagine splurging on a lightweight, long-sleeved, floor length gown, replicating something yanked off of Valentino's Fall/Winter runway show, for only $35. You'd think the designers cloned their collections straight from their inventory. Oh wait. They do. Yep, design teams from Chloe to Marc Jacobs have all been known to sneak into the hole, looking for "inspiration" for upcoming seasons.
"You can tell; they come in and grab a bunch of stuff." Tiempetch pantomimes grabbing a heap of clothes: "They clean me out."
Quite possibly the most popular shop on this list, The Fashionista is all about location, location, location. Not only is it a nesting ground for the most coveted names in the game of fashion, but it's planted right dab smack in the middle of Miami's shopping ring of fire -- Coconut Grove.
Yeah, you could say they get a lot of foot-traffic and store owner, Valerie Hasbani, couldn't agree more: "I feel very proud of being a Grovite," she tells us.
Contrary to target market norms, The Fashionista doesn't just cater to one specific age group; the boutique invites all, saggy and perky breasts alike, through its doors. Passersby, from moms-on-the-go to UM students hopping over from Green Street Cafe, all call the name brand and designer mecca their consignment heaven away from home. There, you can pick up names as couture as Balenciaga and as contemporary as Zara, without having to sacrifice your lunch money for the whole week. The warm boutique, which opened its doors seven years back, also treats its loyal clientele with closet edits and red-carpet personal styling services.
2. Fly Boutique
Located in the heart of the ever-evolving hood of MiMo, Fly Boutique is the secondhand gold mine you've been hunting for. Think Costco-turned-vintage-retail -- it's huge and fully stocked with, well, everything, from 1960s mod furniture to vintage soccer jerseys and even Burberry trenches priced criminally low.
And here's the best part: half the store is taken up by menswear. Did you hear that, guys? We said menswear - vintage menswear! The white bamboo, high-ceilinged expanse has enough women's wear goodies to have you rummaging for days, but it's the eclectic line-up for men of Etro, Missoni, Dsquared2, and Comme des Garçons button-ups, tees, and polos that make our eyes well up with tears of joy.
Fly guys won't just be there for the racks of apparel; the store also (caters) to the life-style minded with old school gadgets like a retro Polaroid camera ('Cause who doesn't need one of those?). It's like a secondhand version of Base South Beach. And just when we thought the news couldn't get better, owner Max De Bernardi told us of the mini-flea market they put on twice a month, where ladies can pile up on $10 Gucci bags. We're not lying. You can #InstaStalk them to find out when the next one will be.
Warning: You'll pull up to the white, cottage-style house with the royal blue door, look around, and think, "Is this the spot?" Don't worry; it is. As soon as you walk up the steps that lead you to that fateful blue door, you'll realize exactly why we've guided you to this vintage treasure trove. Built in the 1920s, the cozy house-turned-boutique hoards one of the largest Emilio Pucci collections in the world.
And Pucci's not the only iconic memorabilia that lives on the wooden floors of the house. The boutique specializes in a bevvy of vintage accouterments, from slinky American Hustle-style dresses to 1950s full-skirt frocks. The gang's all there.
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This boutique, however, differs from any other spot topping the list. The exclusivity of its appointment-only visits will make you feel part of your very own fashion secret society. The reason for the hush-hush behavior: "Vintage is a very personal experience," Sheffield McIntyre says. "If someone makes an appointment, then they get one-on-one styling, and then they get my knowledge of the inventory and I can look at their shape and kind of figure out what might work for them and what doesn't."
The pampered hospitality doesn't stop at private visits. The boutique also has its own in-house seamstress to make sure that bespoke number hugs in all the right places. Expect to drop an average of $100 -- pricey for some, but priceless for others.