Until a few years ago, clothing resale didn’t hold a sexy status. Second hand shops were for those mainly looking for a bargain who, most of the time, didn’t have substantial disposable income. The sector was definitely not associated with affluent consumers willing to spend thousands of dollars on rare or vintage finds.
Oh, how the times have changed. The rise of conscious consumption combined with technology advancements have contributed to the continuous growth of the resale market where an influx of new businesses cater for people who love fashion but hate stuffocation. In fact, the sector will be worth $41 bn by 2020. “There’s a huge opportunity in terms of market size but also in terms of consumer mindset,” says Ceanne Fernandes-Wong, Chief Marketing Officer and VP EMEA at luxury resale site Vestiaire Collective. “It’s a much better way of thinking about how to purchase luxury fashion items today.”
Vestiaire Collective launched nine years ago as one of the first sites in Europe selling authenticated pre-loved luxury fashion. Since then, the company has amassed over 7 million fashion savvy members across 50 countries around the globe, who both sell and buy unique pieces through the platform.
One reason for this growth is consumers’ awareness of fashion’s environmental effects and their demand for more conscious processes. “Consumers are coming to us for different reasons. Firstly, because they don’t want items to go to landfills. They think about how they can make a positive contribution and give items a second life,” says Fernandes-Wong. “People don’t necessarily want to buy new. They want to be more sustainable with their purchases and have a real understanding of what they want to buy new and what – pre-owned. What we see is a much more intelligent conversation around resale and a better understanding of the market overall. It’s viewed in a very positive light.”
Encouraging shoppers to join the circular economy as the sustainable alternative to fast-fashion, Vestiaire Collective stands out with its carefully curated catalogue of over 600,000 desirable items. Once sold, pieces are expertly checked for quality and authenticity. More than 30,000 new items are submitted by its community of sellers every week, which enables buyers to access over 3,500 coveted and must have fashion pieces a day.
But consumers are not the same in all markets the company operates in. “In France and the UK you have both high amount of people buying and selling. In Germany, you see a lot more buying, while in Italy - a lot more selling. It’s interesting that Europe has such difference in mindset,” shares Fernandes-Wong. “In Hong Kong, for example, people are much more after that super high-end, super rare piece, in addition to everything else. People there come to the site because of our European supply - and that’s something that no one on the market yet has. So understanding the role resale plays in this is important.”
This focus on the community is at the heart of Vestiaire Collective’s new rebrand, including a refreshed brand identity, updated website and supporting creative campaign. “We wanted to make a statement with our logo because Vestiaire and Collective for us are equally important,” explains Fernandes-Wong. “We want them to know that they [the community] are as important as the product that they bring. That was a big part of it [the rebrand] and helps consumers create a stronger emotional connection with the brand.”
As part of the refresh, Vestiaire Collective has introduced an increased user-friendly functionality across all devices to ensure it facilitates customers’ usage habits and continues to evolve with the shoppers it serves. The update also sees the introduction of integrated editorial content across web and mobile as well as updated packaging, crafted from recycled materials, developed with the intent to allow customers to reuse.
It all points to the company’s plans for the future. Following a launch in the APAC region this year, as well as raising series E investment in 2017, Vestiaire Collective will focus on growth and working towards its vision to be the global leader in the resale sector. This plan includes some strategic partnerships that excite the community and promote sustainable, conscious consumption.
For example, the company recently teamed up with filmmaker and artist Liz Goldwyn who sold her desirable vintage pieces through the site to support Dress for Success, a charity that empowers women through support, tools and professional attire. The site also announced a partnership with Selfridges in London in the form of a two-week pop up, where customers can buy pre-loved designer goods and sell their own luxury items. “We will definitely be doing more of those types of collaborations,” says Fernandes-Wong. “It helps illustrate our incredible fashion DNA as well as the diversity of our catalogue, which is what really sets us apart from the competition.”
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