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Elite Dress Agency- for the contemporary, chic consumer who wants high trend on a lower budget. Perfect in times of recession!

Today, the ‘Dress Agency’ concept is known by most, however the majority will not know that the idea begun in a small shop in Sale, Cheshire named ‘The White Elephant’. Mrs Makin, a widow with four children, put her idea into reality by renting a shop for £3 per week and began to take 10% commission on all sales. Who knew the idea would still be thriving today, perhaps more so due to the economic climate.

For 55 years, several members of the Makin family have carefully selected beautiful designer garments and accessories to be re-sold in their stores. Under the direction of third generation Makin, Nicola, the company has undergone a modern reinvention.

Laura Smith was appointed Elite’s new Creative Director in 2009, to rebrand the shops and bring the company into the 21stCentury. The critical part of Laura’s plan was to launch a new online shop at www.elitedressagency.com showcasing their handpicked items to the online fashion community. In addition, social media has played a large part with accounts set up on Twitter, Facebook and of course, a fashion blog. Laura notes, ‘With iPhone check-ins and tweets from across the globe, Elite has to embrace the technology focussed times we are in. We are proud of our treasure trove of hand-picked designer and high fashion items which are both chic and cost-effective. We spend a lot of time selecting stock so why not celebrate and share our finds with everyone?’

Nowadays, with shops on the prestigious King Street in Manchester and on Market Street in Altrincham, the Dress Agency has been transformed by the staff’s meticulous item selection process, once likened to the X Factor auditions! Laura explains, ‘Our stock is gained via a mixture of out-sourcing and donations. Our buyers inspect the items rigorously and if they reach our expectations we determine a selling price. The Elite works as an agent for our customers gaining 50% commission for each sale, it’s mutually beneficial! We pride ourselves in offering the most coveted selections.’ Everyday Elite’s offerings are different as the turnover of branded goods from the likes of Marc Jacobs, Mathew Williamson and Vivienne Westwood, is fast. Also available are high-end high street brands such as All Saints, French Connection and Karen Millen meaning anyone can find a unique item to suit their budget.

Elite stands out from the crowd of Vintage shops in Manchester, as you are more than likely to find a piece that is still very much in Vogue. You may wonder how this is possible with all their items being ‘pre-loved’, but most of their stock has probably only been worn once or sometimes not at all! Popular with Manchester celebrities, whether soap stars or WAGs, these clients trade in their expensive designer fashions once they have been seen wearing them in the press, allowing others to enjoy them.

With plans to grow the press coverage of the shop further, Elite will be hosting some exclusive events in the coming months as well as launching their new Vintage collection in the Manchester King Street store. This dress agency is both Elite in name and Elite in nature!

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The Elite Online is an online shop selling second hand and preloved clothes