Q&A: Christos Garkinos, Designer Consignment Business Owner

RETREAD THREADS: High-end consignment biz gives designer duds a second life.
Photographs by Cybelle Codish

Christos Garkinos, co-owner of the Los Angeles-based DecadesTwo.1 designer consignment business, recently brought some Hollywood glamour to his hometown when his pop-up boutique set up shop at the family home of Angelique Soave and Andrea Soave Provenzano in Grosse Pointe Shores.

At the invitation-only shopping event, a mostly female crowd clad in skinny jeans and red-soled pumps sorted through racks of new and gently used couture pieces with labels reading Dior, Chanel, and Gucci, and accessories that included Fendi bags and Prada, Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, and Louis Vuitton shoes.

Garkinos, whose clients include Selma Blair, Charlize Theron, and Nicole Richie, brought with him high-end designer consignment goods culled from fashionable closets around the world. The pieces are edited by Garkinos and business partner Cameron Silver, who runs Decades, the company’s vintage-couture store, which sells designer threads for 30 to 60 percent below retail.

A client list of 3,000-plus fashion plates gives Garkinos and Silver access to some of the world’s most sought-after pieces. “Anything that Tom Ford designed during his Gucci and YSL era are collectibles,” Garkinos says. “If I go into Rachel Zoe’s closet, she always tells me, ‘You can’t have Tom.’

“Our store is the place for future collectibles; if you see yourself selling in our store, that means you’ve made it.” Among his shoppers is designer Alexander Wang, whose past collections have sold at Decades. “He was so excited to see his piece,” says Garkinos. “It shows you the value of your designs when there is an afterlife to your [work].”

When they take their pop-up retail road show to various U.S. cities, the fashion partners take the opportunity to do a little scouting. During his metro Detroit visit, Garkinos stepped inside the closet of Carol Ziecik of Bloomfield Hills and gave Hour Detroit an exclusive look at how he helps his consignors sort through their wardrobes. “We see 70,000 pieces a year and only take in about 12,000,” Garkinos says.

“This is a curated group, unlike an estate sale,” Ziecik says of the items Garkinos selects for resale, which are carefully targeted for his audience.

“I have been yelled at during my garage sales, when my customers have sticker shock,” Ziecik says. During Garkinos’ excavation of her closet, she surrendered several pieces, including a Miu Miu dress and a Nancy Gonzalez bag. In the process, she gained a classic black Marchesa cocktail dress from him. The luxury consignment works like this: Sales are split 50-50, with checks cut monthly. Clients are assigned a number to protect their identities.

“If you haven’t worn something, [unless it’s something really special] in over a year, you’re not going to wear it,” Garkinos says. “Let it go, sell it, or recycle it.” Another tip he offers his clients: Don’t shop when you’re hungry and don’t shop with your girlfriends or engage in fantasy dressing. (To shop Garkinos’ collection, visit decadestwo1.com.)

Before heading back to Los Angeles, Garkinos chatted about growing up in Grosse Pointe Woods, his attempts at working corporate America, and why no woman should be caught wearing a tracksuit.

Japanese Vogue called you one of the most fashionable men in the world; did growing up in Grosse Pointe [Grosse Pointe North High School, University of Michigan] influence your style?

Um, no. The biggest influence for me was my father. We moved to Grosse Pointe, and I thought, ‘What is all this pink-and-green stuff going on? I don’t get it.’

You worked in corporate America, [vice president of Virgin Megastores, opted out of Harvard Business School for a position with the Walt Disney Co.] before you entered the fashion world. How did that work out?

My first job out of school, I was the brand assistant for the training program for Clorox. It’s this real conservative company, and the first day I showed up in a seersucker suit, white shirt, and yellow tie. They sent me home.

So how did the store come about?

When the music business went down, I became friendly with Cameron Silver, who is my business partner at Decades. He had started a true vintage-couture collection, and I said, ‘Let’s do something for modern clothes.’ With $10,000 and 15 closets, we opened the store 12 years ago. Now it’s 3,000 homes around the world and a $5-million business.

What celebrity piece are you dying to get your hands on?

The [frock] Gisele [Bündchen] wore to the MET ball two years ago. It was an insanely sexy dress.

Does the Midwest have a fashion look?

Absolutely. People here aren’t impulse buyers; they know what they’re looking for. People here are a little more conservative.

What should every man/woman own?

Every woman needs to have two or three go-to little black dresses, and two great clutches. Also, good underwear or Spanx, and a nice mixture of high and low. If you spent the money on the Chanel bag, pair it with H&M jeans. For men, they need to have at least two pairs of dark and shined shoes. And a Tom Ford shirt.

What is a big fashion mistake?

The idea of going out in a tracksuit or jogging suit. It was cute when Juicy was in, and now it makes me crazy. Also, the whole Kardashian Inc. of everything. I went to Vegas recently, and everything was so short. Keep a little to yourself.

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