The pros behind this Upper East Side luxury resale shop turn away six out of every 10 items they receive. Learn their eagle eye tips below.
Tammy Fluhr-Gates and Laura Fluhr are the fifth and sixth generation owners of Michael's Consignment.
New Yorkers Laura Fluhr and Tammy Fluhr-Gates are the mother-daughter duo behind Michael's Consignment, a Madison Avenue resale shop where gently used designer fashions that would otherwise go unused (read: stashed in the dim corners of fabulous Upper East Side closets) find happy homes at a fraction of their original cost.
“My grandfather opened this store in 1954,” says Tammy of her mother’s father, Michael. “Back in the day, the concept of upscale resale had a little less cachet than it does now. But that was [my father’s] objective: to cater to the women up and down the Upper East. He had some very famous clients, people like Rita Hayworth and some of the Vanderbilts,” adds Laura.
This October, Michael's will celebrate its 60th birthday. What's changed in all those years? While the location—on the same block as the New York Society Library—has been the same since the beginning, the shop recently grew from one floor to two-and-a-half floors. Clients go back 20 years, with generations of mothers, daughters, and granddaughters shopping and consigning. However, thanks to a stylish e-commerce site spearheaded by Tammy, Michael’s has a whole new client base.
Guaranteed to be 100 percent authentic, this coveted Hermès Birkin can be had at Michael's Consignment for $16,500.
Another passion project of Tammy’s is “How to Spot a Fake,” her YouTube series on counterfeit handbags. “It’s just something that upsets us on so many levels,” says Tammy on the frequency at which fake bags cross her desk at Michael’s, which guarantees 100 percent authenticity for all of its merchandise. After all, the duo turn away six out every 10 items they receive.
You can watch Tammy's videos on the tell-tale signs of fake Hermès and Chanel bags here, but the eagle eyed pro gave Gotham these five tips for shopping designer resale bags online and in person.
1. Use your senses."Real genuine leather is what the brands are going to be using. If you can’t smell it as being real genuine leather—if it has that plastic-y smell—you’re looking at a fake."
2. Pay attention to the stitching. "Many bags are hand-stitched as opposed to being done by a machine, so the quality of the stitching is going to be different."
3. Feather-light hardware is a dead giveaway. "The weight and the sound of the metal—like, if you’re dealing with a Chanel chain—it has a real sound to it. It doesn’t sound ting-y."
4. Ask for more photos if shopping online. "If there is one piece of advice I’d give to online consumers, it’s to ask for photographs. If someone is selling, let’s just throw out the Birkin, the big one, and it’s a $10,000 bag that they’re selling for $7,500, and you ask for additional photos and they can’t take the time to snap a couple, they probably don’t physically have that bag."
5. Only shop established resale stores that guarantee authenticity. "The way that you become an expert in this industry is that you handle, touch, feel, smell tons and tons of bags. If you’ve been in business for a year or two, and you’re looking through books to try and tell you if something’s authentic, it’s not the same thing."