EVER feel like you’ve not been invited to the party? Living, as I do, in County Clare, a good four-hour drive from Dublin, it can happen sometimes. Not too often, mind – the internet has made the world a much smaller place so there’s not much I can’t read about in the fashion mags and then track down and purchase online (not always such a good thing!).
But every now and then, I come across something that is very unique and special and not online (yet!). That’s when I wish I lived a little closer to the action.
Like my latest discovery – No 38, a very fashion-focused consignment store on Dunville Avenue in Ranelagh. The boutique was only opened in September 2013, so it’s still glowing with youthfulness, but it has already established itself as a firm favourite with Dublin’s style-setters, who buy and sell there.
Armelle Mitchell, originally from Galway, is the brains behind the business. Having worked in fashion and retail for many years, including time in New York, she stepped away from it all in 2003 to focus on her family. Now, 10 years and four kids later, she’s back and firmly focused on setting up the kind of shop she would like to buy from, selling the kind of clothes she would like to own.
And that it seems is the main criterion for what makes the rails in this boutique. It’s not about labels or price tags, as Armelle explained to me – “I only buy what I like and what I feel I can sell.” The result is a charming store, packed to the rafters with beautiful, covetable things. The majority of the stock is new or nearly-new (last season’s or near enough in most cases); Armelle says that many of her customers are shocked to see items that are still on sale in Brown Thomas or elsewhere. All stock, it goes without saying, is in pristine condition.
So who delivers these glorious clothes and accessories to the door of No 38? Armelle explains that many of her clients are stylists or involved otherwise in fashion, or are simply women who can afford a great wardrobe and are diligent about clearing it out at the end of every season. They’re delighted to find a good home for their couture …and we’re even happier to buy it off their hands at discount prices.
Among the current finds in this veritable treasure trove (and the joy is that the stock changes all the time) are a Fendi silver lambskin cross-body bag, selling for €350; a Victoria Beckham dress for €750; and the most divine blue Chanel ‘Pearl Obsession’ handbag for €2,000.
But don’t be put off by the prices. They are, of course, minimal compared to what was paid originally but, if you’re not quite in the Chanel league just yet, there are plenty of goodies priced more pleasingly. Like the fragrances – Hermes and Victor & Rolf – for just €40; Marc Jacobs sunglasses for €85; a selection of designer jeans from €90, including J Brand, Koral and Frame; and a selection of Louboutins for €160. There’s a Red Valentino shirt selling for €50 and a box-fresh Miu Miu wallet for €130.
When I asked Armelle about her personal favourite item in the store right now, she answered without hesitation: “A black Botega Veneta shift dress with pockets; a classic piece, magnificently cut.” Tough call, though – there’s enough fashion perfection here to make your eyes water.
No 38, in short, is home to some of the most beautiful bargains you’ll ever lay your peepers on – only, in this boutique, you have a fighting chance of being able to afford them. If, like me, you can’t just pop in to Ranelagh for a browse, make sure you follow No 38 on Facebook for regular stock updates. And, rumour has it, a website might be coming soon. But don’t worry, I will, of course, be shouting that from the rooftops when it happens.
And finally, if you visit the shop on foot of this post, just know that I am insanely jealous of you. Some of us, outside the capital, have to miss all the fun!