Pre-loved luxury no longer carries a stigma as consumers seek out a circular economy.
Sustainability has long been a buzzword in the luxury industry. And thanks to a more discerning and environmentally conscious consumer, the secondary market is booming. Textiles and fashion exhort an extraordinarily high toll on the environment: for example, the textile industry causes around 20 percent of industrial water pollution. Second-hand luxury consigners have popped up to cater for a new wave of buyers and sellers to whom the word used no longer carries a stigma. While they might want a new handbag every season, they don't want to overburden the planet, their wardrobes, or wallets.
We look at some of the best pre-loved luxury sites.
Founded in Paris in 2009, Vestiaire Collective is one of the largest online marketplaces for pre-owned designer fashion, offering discounts of between 30-70 percent off the original retail price. It has recently been showcasing the personal collections of style icons at unheard of prices, such as Anna Dello Russo, whose personal treasure trove of statement jewellery ranged from Chanel to Balenciaga. Vestiaire Collective now has a community of over seven million fashion lovers worldwide, and over 30,000 new items are uploaded each week.
Launched last year, WatchBox is one of the world's largest pre-owned luxury watch retailers. With an inventory of 3,000-4,000 watches worth approximately US$100 million, it has a trading floor as lively as that of any investment bank. Based in Philadelphia, Hong Kong, Switzerland and about to open in Dubai, WatchBox was founded by industry luminaries Danny Govberg, Liam Wee Tay and Justin Reis. Its aim is to disrupt a laggard industry by providing savvy consumers with hard-to-source watches and a high level of trust and transparency. As well as its online platform, its bricks-and-mortar showrooms are refreshingly uncommercial, resembling the plush pad of a discerning art collector.
US-based Rebag was launched in 2014 by Harvard Business School graduate Charles Gorra. Initially an e-commerce site for pre-loved designer handbags, more recently it has been opening bricks-and-mortar stores alongside top-flight luxury brands in Los Angeles and New York. It recently launched Rebag Infinity, which lets customers buy a designer handbag and trade it in for credit seasonally, reclaiming 70 percent of the original purchase price. It is one of the few consigners that pays for goods upfront and in cash, taking the risk of an inventory on its books.
Goat is a sneaker reseller, a huge marketplace given that one pair of shoes can go for as much as US$60,000. With over 35,000 pairs of shoes on its site, it says business has boomed partly due to Kanye West elevating sneakers to high fashion. The company recently announced a sponsorship deal with Los Angeles Lakers player Kyle Kuzma, who was also sponsored by Nike.
The Real Real
The idea for US-based online luxury consignor, The RealReal, was born in 2011 after Julie Wainwright was out shopping with a girlfriend. Her friend purchased items from a consignment rack in the back of an upscale boutique, explaining that she trusted the particular shop owner, the shop was beautifully curated, and she was getting amazing deals on luxury designers she loved. Wainwright had a lightbulb moment. Since then The Real Real has sold more than eight million items to the tune of over US$500 million, with popular brands including Gucci, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Cartier. It has also expanded to a physical presence in New York and Los Angeles and has plans to expand overseas.
Launched in 2001 as a listings service bringing Parisian flea market finds to US collectors, 1stdibs now has a strong offering of vintage jewellery and fashion, as well as furniture, art and design. To be able to see items for sale, you need to apply and pay a subscription fee. In return, buyers get a virtual shop front with advice and expertise on product listings and shipping.