High fashion at a fraction of the cost with dress agencies

Camilla Emanuele inside The Shop at the Coach House, Gosberton.
Camilla Emanuele inside The Shop at the Coach House, Gosberton.

Two South Holland-based businesswomen are at the centre of a fashion revolution as their dress agencies grow in popularity.

Camilla Emanuele, of The Shop at the Coach House, Gosberton, and Jane Rose, of The Clotheshanger Dress Agency, Holbeach, have both found a recession-busting way into the fashion market.

Jane Rose inside the Clotheshanger Dress Agency, Holbeach. 'Photo:  SG060613-136TW www.spaldingtoday.co.uk/buyaphoto

Jane Rose inside the Clotheshanger Dress Agency, Holbeach. 'Photo: SG060613-136TW www.spaldingtoday.co.uk/buyaphoto

Camilla celebrates her dress agency’s first anniversery in March, selling high-quality, nearly new and often rare designer outfits donated by their original owners at a fraction of the retail price in return for a commission.

She said: “The reason for my success is that due to the economic recession, it is more acceptable to buy secondhand and trendy to be frugal.

“This is especially so with the new trend of upcycling old pieces of furniture into vintage-inspired pieces using do-it-yourself methods.

“It provides a way for sellers to make money out of clothing or accessories they no longer wear and would otherwise remain unloved and unworn in wardrobes.”

Like Camilla, Jane saw a gap in the market for womens and childrenswear before opening her dress agency in June.

She now sells a variety of outfits, from coats and dresses to shoes and jewellery.

“It’s been really positive and more clients are coming in every day of the week,” Jane said.

“Everybody wants the best but people are thinking differently, even though many can afford to buy brand new clothes.

“There’s a changing habit where people either wait to buy clothes in the sales or on the internet.

“People who bring their unwanted clothes in to are even buying something else in my shop with their proceeds.”

Many bargains can be found within dress agencies such as a recent designer piece in Camilla’s shop, a trouser-suit with an estimated original price of between £600 and £800 which actually sold for between £60 to £80.

All this from a “shop” run from a converted building at the bottom of Camilla’s garden in Salem Street.

She said: “The location means that my business costs are not as high as what they would be on the high street, resulting in me not having the need to set high prices for the items of clothing.

“Also, I don’t have to buy stock in like other businesses and any items of clothing that fail to sell are, with the original owner’s permission, given to charity shops such as Cancer Research or Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance.

“This makes sure that business is not taken away from them.”

At the same time, Jane prides herself on selling outfits suitable for weddings, dinners and cruises, although she too recognises there is a place on the high street for charity shops.

She said: “There’s a difference in what a charity shop accepts and what a dress agency accepts.

“But it doesn’t mean that you can’t buy something fashionable in a charity shop.”