Robert Sheie developed a love for antique and thrift shopping in 2010 after noticing that men were rediscovering suits and tailored clothing through blogs and social media. At the time he was working in web development, but spent his free time following different style photographers, blogs, and Tumblr accounts. This compelled him to purchase a few estate pieces of designer clothing and photograph them in a stylish way. With resale somewhat still in its infancy, but with encouragement from friends, Robert decided to pursue consignment as a business opportunity by presenting pieces for sale through various marketplaces. After experiencing much success and immediate interest from clients, he decided to create his own website menswearmarket.com
We recently caught up with Robert to learn more about the consignment process.
What is the process to consign? / how do I get the items to Menswear Market? Is there a cost associated?
RS- We arrange for shipping, at no cost to the consignor. For a new first-time seller, the first step is to share the details of your collection, including brands and categories. Some clients prefer to discuss this over the phone, and others send us a list or summary. After we’ve accepted the first 1-2 collections and clients understand our criteria, we typically approve future shipments at their request.
Do my items get approved for consignment before or after I ship the items to Menswear Market?
RS- Items are approved on a contingent basis, based on our discussion with a seller (typically through email). When they arrive here as described, we approve items and begin working on them.
Do you accept any brands/designers?
RS- We have a broad focus on high quality items, so that includes the luxury brands you would expect (e.g. pre-owned Dior, Prada, Gucci) but also lesser known artisan labels, activewear, outdoor clothing, and workwear. Our clients have both fancy clothes for an evening out and more rugged pieces for the weekend, and we can accommodate their needs for resale in both of these areas. We don’t work on “fast fashion” brands.
Do you accept Bespoke/Custom items & Vintage?
RS- Yes, but we have to decline the vast majority of requests that come in for reselling these items. Many people own custom suits from small tailors. While these tailors often make a high quality product, they don’t have a brand name our customers will recognize. However, we’ve had great success with pre-owned designer label made-to-measure items. For example, a 6 year old custom Tom Ford suit would fetch $1K or more. Customers who recognize quality would also happily pay a similar price for a true Savile Row bespoke suit.
We definitely accept vintage, but only in certain categories. Like custom items, I typically decline to accept what most people call “vintage,” because they’re usually asking us to sell some rather dull suits from the ‘90s. Vintage designer couture on the other hand, is something we can sell. Vintage sportswear and workwear, with unique utilitarian or functional designs, is also highly interesting to our customer.
What are the condition requirements/standards?
RS- Items can be worn, but not worn out. Most consignors know the difference. I don’t recall who said it but the quote comes to mind: “If you wouldn’t feel comfortable giving it to a friend, it’s not suitable for resale.”
How are my items promoted/sold and what is the commission structure?
RS-We sell items on multiple channels, and for 2022 that includes our own website (menswear-market.com), Google Shopping, and eBay. Sellers receive 60% of net on sold items by check or electronic payment. E-commerce has been our business from the beginning. We did have a boutique for a short time and then were forced to abruptly change course in 2020. First it was the pandemic and then a local riot that permanently changed our neighborhood in South Minneapolis. Despite these challenges, I’m happy to be focused on what we do best, which is online selling.
What is the average turnaround time for items to sell and for clients to receive payment ?
RS- Turnaround time varies a lot these days, depending on the collection. If you wanted to resell a collection of premium activewear right now, we could likely move that within 4-6 weeks. But if you came to us with a dozen suits or tailored jackets, we would need several months to sell them all in the current environment. Payments are issued monthly, so the longest you would typically wait is 30 days.
Will my items get marked down? What happens if my items don’t sell?
RS- Items do get marked down and we frequently negotiate prices with customers. Consignors should always understand that resale is typically an “off price” category, meaning customers expect a significant discount compared to retail. If our customers don’t feel like they’ve won a bargain, they don’t shop with us. However, we do hold firm on premium pricing of rare merchandise. To accurately price our stock, we always need to survey the wider marketplace to be sure we’re competitive. Unsold items are returned to clients, or donated to our local neighborhood charity. When sellers come on board, they have the option to choose donation or return, so there’s no confusion later on about how these items are handled.