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Fashion Comes Full Circle

By Kelsey Fagan


Modern, fashion-loving women are too often burdened by balancing the desire to rock designer labels with the necessity to stay on budget. For many, this leaves coveted, iconic brands like Gucci, Louboutin, Prada, and Chanel simply out of reach. Having experienced this dilemma first-hand, Lisa Castagno, owner of Revolve Consignment Boutiques, has been working for years to make seemingly unattainable fashion accessible.

Castagno embraced her family’s shared passion for fashion at an early age. This enthusiasm for quality pieces and designer clothing, nurtured by her mother and grandmother, laid the groundwork for her career in the fashion industry.

“My grandmother taught me a lot about fashion, quality, and fabrics. You’d learn to be able to recognize the quality by touch,” said Castagno.

While raising her children and creating a family of her own, Castagno found her ultimate fashion fix at consignment shops. Immediately, she was inspired by the concept and hooked on the affordability. Once her oldest daughter went off to college, she decided it was time to take this passion and turn it into something bigger.

“I wanted to do something for myself and something that I loved,” said Castagno.

In 2009, she opened the first location of what is now the largest of the independently owned consignment networks in New England — Revolve Boutiques. Located in Belmont, Massachusetts, the initial shop aimed to elevate consignment shopping to a boutique-like experience, while lessening the exclusivity of better brands.

“I wanted to introduce consignment to the people of Belmont, and it took about a year for people to understand the concept here in the suburbs,” said Castagno.

In this first year, Castagno learned the ins and outs of owning her own consignment business. She worked tirelessly to expose shoppers to quality clothing, name brands, and the benefits of consignment shopping. With transparent dedication to her customers, and a genuine appreciation for fashion at the forefront of all operations, Castagno established a loyal following. Soon, in response to the growing inventory and demand, she opened a second, larger storefront in Belmont Center.

From this point on, Revolve Boutiques has expanded at the rate of about one new store per year. The success of the store is credited to its impressive local-brand equity, as word of mouth and a great reputation bring new customers in every day. Today, in addition to the two Belmont-based locations, Revolve Boutiques can be found in Lexington, in Winchester, in Rockport, and on Newbury Street in Boston. While earning a coveted spot on Newbury Street is a career high for Castagno, the rapid success of the store has never tainted the vision — helping women dress and feel amazing for a fraction of the cost.

“Everyone deserves to wear nice clothes, and on any budget now, women can wear nice clothes…You don’t have to be rich, and designer clothing shouldn’t be limited to just the wealthy,” said Castagno.

To this day, Castagno remains excited by the fast-paced nature of the day-to-day operations. With no appointment necessary, consigners can drop off clothing to one of the in-store consignment buyers at any time of the day. This sequence of continuous intake and fluid movement of inventory throughout each store, although at times overwhelming, allows Revolve to introduce new pieces onto the sales floor at a rapid rate.

Over the course of Revolve Boutique’s existence, Castagno has fine-tuned the criteria for what the store will accept. Buying is limited to better-label and designer brands like J.Crew, Lululemon, Rag & Bone, Akris, and Stuart Weitzman. Each item is evaluated based on the quality, condition, and style. When determining what styles to accept, buyers look for more contemporary, relevant pieces created within the last two years.

“We are taking what people are looking for and what is most popular among the customers,” said Castagno. Items are generally priced at between one-half and one-third of retail value, leaving customers, and their wallets, very happy. In turn, when their items sell, consigners receive 40 to 50 percent of the selling price in the form of either store credit or, if requested, a check. This reciprocal exchange keeps customers coming back time and time again.

Although Castagno and her team do not accept many vintage pieces, exceptions are made for timeless classics. One of Castagno’s most treasured projects to date was a closet cleanout containing 25 one-of-a-kind Chanel bags — enough to make any fashionista’s head explode. It is because of moments like this that she loves what she does so much. “These are the finds that are exciting and make it fun,” said Castagno.

While Revolve Boutique’s grip on the local consignment market tightens, it has also made some waves in the arena of styling. Drawing from the affordable selection of brand-name items, the styling team has dressed women for meetings, dates, and even high-profile affairs like red carpet events and lunch with former President Obama. Regardless of the occasion, each customer is awarded the same level of attention and commitment to finding the perfect look.

“We’ve dressed women for weddings for under $100, and that’s really important — to have women look great and not spend a lot of money,” said Castagno.

In response to Revolve’s steady growth, plans are now underway to expand the Belmont Center location. This increase in space will allow the store to feature an expanded men’s department and grow the ever-popular women’s section, introducing new categories like athleisure. In addition to the brick-and-mortar selling environment, Castagno hopes to increase Revolve’s online presence. Today, with the help of her daughters — fourth-generation fashionistas — and her dedicated, fashion-obsessed team of employees, Castagno cannot be stopped. Revolve Boutiques is taking the local consignment market by storm and is doing so with style.; @revolveboutiques

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