Fashion, food, lifestyle and culture in St Albans
I was lured in by the promise of finding Christian Louboutins and Mulberry bags under the same roof in St Albans. As I gazed at the pretty sandwich board that was hypnotising me so, I thought, surely I would know if such purchases were possible in St Albans??
It can therefore only be one of two things, a) an underground club, not too dissimilar to Fight Club, but where fashion fiends fight openly over the last pair of Prada boots, and, of course, the first rule of this club is that you can’t talk about it, which is why I had never known it was there, or more likely b) a Port Key to Bond Street. But it was such a pretty green sandwich board I thought, too lovely to be the first option, so I ventured forth.
Surprisingly, it turned out to be neither, instead what lay before me was The Green Boutique, Dress Agency. I had come across Dress Agencies in London before, but I was chuffed to bits to discover that the beautiful Leah Rowland had taken the initiative to open one up in St Albans.
An agency like this is usually as good as the community that fuels it. Thankfully, you trendy and stylish bunch have contributed wonderful pre-loved treats, so the shop is a designer haven.
For those of you who are not familiar with Dress Agencies, the entire stock is made up of pre-loved designer and top end high street brands that are sold, in store, on your behalf, on a sale or return basis.
It’s great because the sellers make money from their original designer purchases at a great rate, in a proper retail environment and without any hassle. And, the buyers get the chance to own incredible designer fashion at affordable prices, without ever having to compromise on quality. Win win.
So how does The Green Boutique work?
You bring in your pre-loved items, in excellent saleable condition, or you can arrange with Leah a home evaluation.
The two of you will discuss the item, amidst the gorgeous chinoiserie wallpaper, and agree on a new price for your item, usually around 30-40% of the original RRP.
The item will then nestle down, next to its new fancy friends and wait, hopeful and shiny, to be picked out and loved all over again.
Over the next 6 weeks, your item will be on sale in The Green Boutique and once sold, you split the agreed retail price 50/50 with Leah. There are no sad montages of scarring abandonment in this Disney Pixar classic.
Only the highest high street brands will be considered, anything from around Karen Millen/LK Bennett upwards as they will be competing with some pretty heavy-weight designers like Stella McCartney and Gucci.
However, The Green Boutique is so much more than your average Dress Agency. It’s a fashion service.
For those customers who only ever dreamed of owning that designer bag, The Green Boutique’s new Lay-By service can now make this a reality. Lay-By allows the customer to pay for their purchase over time in instalments, with no additional interest. Leah has adopted this payment service as she believes that everyone should have the opportunity to own beautiful things. The Green Boutique will just keep the item safe for you until you have paid for it in full and then it is yours to take home and enjoy.
Also, if there is an item that you deeply covet then you can leave your wishlist with Leah and she will get in touch with you if your item ever comes through her door. Follow @Green_Boutique on Twitter for fashion alerts about what’s in stock- just don’t forget to give a proper excuse when you flee your desk midday because of an ’emergency.’
She’s your very own fashion fairy godmother and you seem to agree, because after only 6 months of being open, Leah became the well-deserved recipient of the 2012 Retailer of the Year award. And to think, only last year she was working in the finance world buried deep in the City.
She is my new favourite fashion philanthropist, harnessing the community’s unwanted wardrobe items to nourish the fashion needs of the very same community. Green? Indeed. Boutique? Most certainly, this Parisian boudoir is the closet of our collective fashion dreams, both old and new.
What an absolute gem.