You’ve undoubtedly read the witty slogans written on the chalkboard that greets you from outside of ReThreads’ State Street storefront, or gazed at the pair of Marc Jacobs kitten heels that rests peacefully in the window.
Chances are you’ve even wandered in there, sifted through racks of gently-used clothing to find that oh-so-perfect designer shirt for an oh-so-perfect price of less than $20. But little did you know, the resale shop holds even more treasures than the perfectly stylish window displays may suggest. You just need to know how to look. The Badger Herald gets the inside scoop on this Madison store as we talk to longtime sales associate Geoffrey Billeter about the tricks of the trade.
Billeter is sharp, slender and stylish in a quilted pullover, a delicately-patterned button down, skinny khakis and combat boots. With his classic thick-framed glasses and decidedly on-trend haircut (close-cropped sides, longer on top), he is exactly the type of guy you want to take fashion advice from.
The most important thing Billeter wants to get out in the open is the fact ReThreads is not a thrift shop. They are a resale shop, meaning they buy select items of clothes from sellers and sell them to the public at about a third of the retail price. And unlike a thrift shop, they’re not going to take just any piece. Clothes have been sorted through by uber-trendy staff members like Billeter, so out of all the used clothes out there, you know you’re getting the best of the best. Additionally, ReThreads has high quality standards and, with the exception of vintage pieces, only takes clothes that have been sold in retail stores within the past three years.
For any of you who have shopped at vintage stores, you know how frustrating it can be to sort through all the unwearable pieces that fill the racks. It can sometimes seem like all the cute shirts and otherwise charming pieces have been swallowed up by shoulder pads and itchy fabrics. Fortunately, buyers at ReThreads know exactly what to look for.
“For vintage pieces the tricky part is getting them in a smaller size,” Billeter said. “And for vintage dresses a lot of them are longer than what girls like to wear. So we like to make sure that even though a piece is vintage it’s complementary to the way young people like to look these days.”
Although ReThreads’ organized sections are a far cry from the grimy racks of a thrift store, shopping at the resale store allows you to maintain the one-of-a-kind shopping experience you get with thrift.
“You’re not just going to a chain [store] like J. Crew or Urban Outfitters or Lands’ End, and you’re not just going to buy a mannequin,” Billeter said. “You’re going to walk out with a more unique piece … You’re going to be dressed in something that you had to look for, that you discovered, [that] you didn’t just spend 50 bucks on.”
Billeter explained most customers have a “pleasant anticipation” about shopping at ReThreads. He said many of his regular customers are very into their own personal fashion and shop at ReThreads in order to make their outfits as unique as possible. According to Billeter, there are affordable clothes for customers who prefer designer brands and also for those who do not. ReThreads also sells many pieces from stores who base their pieces off haute couture runway shows.
“I feel kind of snobby about saying this,” Billeter said, his face growing a little bit red. “But I’m really into brands. I’ve definitely bought into the aspects of designer clothing culture. A lot of times things fit better. A lot of times things are nicer materials.”
Many of ReThreads’ designer pieces are approximately two-thirds cheaper than they would be originally, so you can look stylish and still pay your rent. According to Billeter, there is a distinct quality difference between designer pieces and those from chain stores. He recommends if you are a person who cares about the way pieces feel and aims for the perfect fit, designer is the best way to go.
Lastly, we couldn’t resist asking him about his favorite trends.
“I really like things with studs on them,” Billeter said. “And I’ve been noticing a lot of pattern on pattern these days. Of course there’s a lot of ways you can go pretty wrong with this, but I really like seeing, for example, acid wash with polka dots, or vertical stripes mixed with horizontal stripes.”
So stop by ReThreads to try out fashion’s newest looks!