Luxury Items Find a New Home with Fashion Reloved
Austinite Magdalina Silva curates a stunning selection of vintage Chanel, Tiffany, Rolex, Gucci and more
A black lambskin quilted leather vintage Chanel classic double flap bag from 1995 is lighting up the life of Austinite Keanna Ghafari, along with a display area in her home where she proudly placed the bag. Ghafari wanted to find a handbag made in her birth year, so once she came across consignment shop Fashion Reloved, she purchased the $5,100 bag.
Magdalina Silva owns the online luxury consignment shop, which boasts more than 100 limited and gently used items, sourced personally by Silva herself. Ghafari wanted to find something very specific and hard to find. It turns out Silva had just the right bag — complete with gold hardware — and in just the right condition.
“Finding something created around the same time I was born was just something sentimental and meaningful, and the hunt to find that was kind of exciting and fun. It’s also always scary trying to find a bag from a reputable seller,” says Ghafari.
“It just happened that my client had recently given me some Chanel bags. She told me she felt like she should donate them. I said no no — vintage Chanel’s are gold!” says Silva, who has a talent and detailed eye for knowing what people will consider a hot item. Authenticating bags is also a special talent for the former IBM engineer who has also been known to help get clients’ money back if they mistakenly buy a fake bag from another vendor.
Handbags are a longtime passion and interest for Silva, a Poland immigrant, who moved to Buffalo, New York at age 13 with her family. Unable to speak English, she would often spend hours in front of the mirror in her room, trying different bags with different clothes.
“I would just create outfits by myself. We didn’t have cell phones then,” says Silva. “It took a year for me to understand English and another year for me to speak it. I think sometimes challenges like that make you grow. You learn so much about yourself and everything else. I think once you have this one hardship in a way everything else becomes like, ‘Okay, I can do this — let me figure it out.’ You take on challenges a little easier. It somehow helps and it’s all meant to be.”
This calm and wise sentiment is exactly how Silva runs her business. With a beautiful outlook on life that appears to be even more stunning than her online consignment closet, Silva officially founded her shop in 2015 after deciding not to return from an extended maternity leave. A decision that culminated with a lay-off and severance package that Silva used to take classes, including one on how to sell products on eBay.
“I liked what I was doing as an engineer. It was okay, but it was never my passion,” says Silva. “What I really care about is sustainability — the recycling of items. For me helping consigners recycle their handbags and find new homes for them so they don’t end up in landfills — that’s my passion.”
Networking and building relationships are some other main things that drive Silva in her business.
“What my clients like about me is that I’m only a text or a phone call away. I’m very personable,” says Silva. “There’s a lot of competition out there and I support everybody else, but I think there’s some larger companies, so people want to work with someone they can contact right away.”
For clients who want to sell luxury goods, Silva takes a concierge “sit back and relax” approach. She will take their items and make sure everything is photographed nicely. She then writes product descriptions, and lists items. Then, as items sell, she issues checks each month.
For customers looking to purchase items, she has a quick turnaround and ships items within 24 hours of purchase. Local Austinites are also able to meet to pick up items in person, or even have a personal delivery if they’d like. For customers who want to know more about certain products, Silva often does videos for them.
“Not only is Magdalena great to purchase from, but she really does feel like a friend, long-term,” says Ghafari. “We still keep in touch even though we had such a short exchange. It feels beyond just transactional.”
“Some customers might text me for a year until they buy something. I’m not going to treat you different if you buy, or if you don’t buy. I try to be very equal,” says Silva. “Sometimes you need more time to find the right item. I really like building relationships with people. Getting to know them, you always learn something yourself.”
Often, the items being sold have a meaningful story. In the case of Ghafari’s handbag, it belonged to one of Silva’s clients in Washington whose mother had passed away. The client didn’t want to keep the handbag so she consigned it with Fashion Reloved.
“That was another selling point for me, that it had such a beautiful story behind it,” say Ghafari, who now uses the bag for special occasions like birthdays and weddings, which she says helps tie special memories with the bag. “A handbag, no matter if you have your makeup or hair done, it lets women lean into their femininity with such beautiful pieces. It can really be a statement or it can be understated and really play up your outfit. It’s such a fun and creative way to express your personality and style.”
Silva’s shop contains items for both women and men. Top brands include everything from Tiffany & Company to Louis Vuitton, Rolex, Gucci and more. Handbags are a strong focus, but Silva also currently sells shoes, jewelry, clothes and additional accessories. She has clients across the country, but also a very strong local fanbase in Austin and nearby cities like Houston and Dallas.