Building A Boutique: A Conversation With Stefan Gregoriou Of Antoinette
Hailing from Toronto is a young start up consignment boutique called Antoinette who stock a range of brands from Saint Laurent, Off-White, Yeezy, Chrome Hearts and more. I first came across the store while searching for a pair of Saint Laurent Wyatt Boots and was blown away by the curation of the store and the price of products, ultimately cheaper than elsewhere online - after some research it led me to discover Stefan, one of the co-founders behind Antoinette.
After reaching out and bonding on similar interests it seemed natural to extend an interview about how young 21 year old is creating an e-commerce empire in Canada.
Zayyar: So Stefan, who are you, what do you do and where are you based?
Stefan: My name is Stefan Gregoriou, I’m 21 born and raised in Toronto, Canada. In 2017 I started Antoinette with my partner Levi and we have grown into Canada’s leader in men’s luxury consignment. We specialise in curating a selection of garments like no other. Our goal is to make fashion accessible to everyone.
Zayyar: How did Antoinette start? And how exactly did you turn it into a business?
Stefan: Myself and Levi began selling our sneakers on eBay over five years ago. After learning the ropes, we put our own designer clothes up for auction. It wasn’t long before we were selling other people’s unwanted clothing, shoes, and accessories. What began as a hobby developed into an exciting business venture and Antoinette began. I always had a passion for fashion and I knew we could take it to the next level.
Zayyar: Were you interested in business growing up at all? Did you see yourself becoming an entrepreneur?
Stefan: Growing up I always wanted to follow the footsteps of my family. My father and many others are entrepreneurs and that’s the path I wanted to follow. As a kid I was always creating small businesses. I was creating skateboarding and BMX videos. I had a BMX clothing brand, creating websites and blogs. After getting into fashion it become evident that Toronto did not have a consignment scene. This was a huge element leading to the inception of Antoinette.
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Zayyar: That’s awesome to hear that mindset was instilled from a young age. What were some of the challenges and obstacles you faced with starting Antoinette and moving forward with the idea?
Stefan: Some of the challenges we faced starting Antoinette was building relationships - getting our name out to the public and networking with boutiques, suppliers and distributors but we didn't let that hold us back and we worked around the clock to network and gain new relationships from online to flying around the world to meet them in person. Even though we’re a consignment boutique we do own many items ourselves.
On the site how do you balance between hyped items such as Off-White, Yeezy’s etc. with more of the menswear? Is that a constant conversation internally on what to focus on?
One thing we always advertise is we’re a one stop shop to cater to all the way from the hype to formal designer wear. You can come in and shop formal dress wear for your 9-5 job and also shop some streetwear for your days off.
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Our goal is to cater to a large demographic from those who like Off-White to Saint Laurent. As I'm sure it is evident we focus on predominantly luxury goods, but with that some token many of our clients like to mix such garments with “hype” brands like Supreme and Off-white.
Zayyar: Does one brand or style outweigh the other for you guys on the store?
Stefan: One brand that overweighs us on the website currently is Off-White. We have curated a selection of Off-White like no other bringing the best of the current Spring Summer 19 collection to their first 2013 collection - all at below retail prices. One other brand that is up there outweighing the others is our personal favourite as well, Saint Laurent. We curated a large selection of the previous Creative Director, Hedi Slimane with some of his most iconic silhouettes like the Teddy Jacket and the Wyatt Harness Boot.
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Zayyar: I must admit the Saint Laurent selection has me tempted all the time and it is truly an awesome and diverse range. Now obviously the scene has changed a lot recently in reselling and second hand goods with the likes of Grailed, StockX, Facebook Groups and more. What do you guys do to stand out in the marketplace?
Stefan: Antoinette stands out against the others - we’re not just a selling platform. We take in client’s items, authenticate, sell and ship out and our clients don’t have to do anything but just collect their money at the end of the month. When you come to shop with Antoinette, you know you will be purchasing only authentic item’s. We also strive to offer personalised customer service, something the other platforms mentioned do not.
Zayyar: I love that, a more personal and tailored service that we can relate to. Tell us a little more about the Canadian fashion scene, what are the consumers there interested in? As well as this do you have to tailor your stock to them?
Stefan: The fashion scene in Canada is not like anywhere else. Everyone here is all about the hype of Yeezy’s and Off-White Nike’s and not much of the ready-to-wear style of fashion. Men’s fashion in Toronto is suffering so bad that they plan to stop doing Toronto’s Men’s Fashion Week.
But that’s where Antoinette comes into play offering the finest selection of fashion from the hyped, Western, avant-garde to formal. We cater it all, hitting the streets in 2019 planning to change Toronto’s men’s fashion scene.
Zayyar: Are most of your customers Canadian or international?
Stefan: At Antoinette we get customers from all over the world. From Hong Kong to Mexico to Denmark we have seen it all. Most of our customers come Internationally.
We see it’s a lot harder to locate some brands in these small countries and that’s where we come in to fill in that gap. In the summer of 2017 we opened our first pop-up boutique for one week in the heart of downtown Toronto giving the city the access to archival and newer season desirable items they could not get their hands on anywhere else. Having the physical store gave the consumer the ability to touch, see and try on the item in person instead of just going off a photo when buying online.
Zayyar: What are your goals with Antoinette for 2019?
Stefan: We’re only few days into 2019 and we are already moving full throttle. We have outgrown our Toronto office and currently in the works of opening our flagship store in Toronto to be offering an consignment experience like no other.
Zayyar: Thanks so much for your time Stefan! Looking forward to seeing the progress of Antoinette through 2019.
Interview & Forward: Zayyar Win Thein
Photos: Felice Trinidad