The early Days
I can vividly remember my first trip to the Louis Vuitton store to make my first and hotly anticipated luxury purchase. It was a Louis Vuitton small Pochette Accessoires, a classic starter piece for any aspiring collector. I was welcomed by a mass of trunks and must-have LV bags dotted amongst pops of color, which were part of the three-storey boutique’s newest interior design makeover. From that very first moment stepping into the store, I was hooked. and for the next three consecutive years I would return to this Louis Vuitton store on my birthday to indulge myself in some luxury retail therapy. I recall thinking, is there any better feeling than this? It turns out there is.
Louis Vuitton Pochette Accessoires
via The RealReal
Discovering the Resale Market
I don’t remember how I first stumbled across the world of luxury resale but I remember the feeling once I had. In the same way the first-hand market’s luxury boutiques had me smitten from the very first moment, luxury resale had cast its spell over me. I purchased a vintage Louis Vuitton Noé in terrific condition for £340 (around $475). At the time, the same bag retailed at Louis Vuitton for around £1,000. Initially, it was solely the secondary market’s lower price point which enticed me in. but I soon woke up to the other benefits of shopping luxury fashion pre-loved. The choice, the appeal of vintage designs, the sustainability advantages, the list goes on. very soon, I began shopping luxury on the secondary market not in spite of it being second-hand, but because of it. and I am certainly not alone.
1960s vogue photograph of Louis Vuitton’s Noé bagimage through Louis Vuitton/NYT
The Pre-Loved Boom
The luxury resale market has existed for decades but its prevalence and popularity have soared in recent years. This has coincided with a spike in vintage designs and revival fashion trends. styles once confined to the back of the closet are now in high demand. According to online consignment and thrift store ThredUp’s fashion Resale Market report from 2019, the second-hand market will be worth $64 billion by 2028 and is set to overtake fast fashion. us vogue revealed that, in September 2020, there were over 35,000 new searches for “vintage fashion” on fashion search platform Lyst. It seemed as if, practically all at once, the rest of the fashion world joined me in thinking purchasing luxury used and vintage was cool.
It was like the ideal storm had occurred in fashion’s global atmosphere. just when I began chasing after the popular Y2K revival trend and other head-turning vintage styles, as if by some chance of fashion fate, there was an easy and inexpensive (ish) way for me to purchase them. I think this occurrence had a little much more to finish with careful trend analysis and shrewd company decisions than it did fate. but fate is certainly what it felt like to me at the time. Essentially, the resale market allowed me to indulge in the designs I was lusting after in a way I never really felt like the primary luxury market had. and it allowed me to do so at a much much more inexpensive price. The environmental benefits, namely the lack of wastefulness and the promotion of a circular economy, were terrific bonuses which, once I really woke up to, were hard to ignore.
Vintage Dior Saddle Pochette
At first I thought that shopping for luxury on the resale market implied I would have to give up my beloved trips to high-end luxury boutiques. Goodbye world in which sales associates seem to wait on you hand and foot and bring you beverages as you peruse the most recent collections. Goodbye seasonal packaging and multi-storey flagship boutiques. I thought that in purchase to get a good deal, I would have to give up a part of luxury fashion I love so dearly. and to an extent this has been the case. Admittedly, leaving the first-hand luxury market behind filled me with horror and jealousy at the thought of those still shopping for luxury new. but we all make sacrifices for the things we love. and I have been pleased giving up my check outs to swanky boutiques in favor of a seemingly unlimited providing of designer bags not confined to the most recent collections.
A new way to shop Resale
But possibly simply accepting the fact that shopping luxury resale implies waving goodbye to luxury stores was a little premature. A cohort of the most popular designer resale platforms have opened their own boutiques in trendy locales the globe over. just last week, I was strolling through the streets of London when I discovered the storefront of luxury reseller Xupes next door to a Louis Vuitton store. At that moment it hit me. shopping luxury resale doesn’t imply giving up all the little extras luxury fashion aficionados love about high-end brands. It simply implies experiencing them in a different way. And, as can be expected from the geographical coordinates,these luxury resale boutiques are not quite akin to vintage thrift stores where you can purchase per kilo. Instead, they are much more like the boutiques of luxury brands which shoppers, myself included, have become accustomed to.
Louis Vuitton new Bond street Boutique, London image through Louis Vuitton
Fashion psychologist and founder of FashionisPsychology.com, Shakaila Forbes-Bell, discusses how consumers experience the same psychological rush whether shopping luxury new or used since, even when purchasing luxury second-hand, the product is new to us. She even more details how shopping second-hand can have added psychological benefits for sustainability conscious shoppers. “Someone who is conscious of the environment will subsequently have a much more positive attitude towards second-hand clothing and will thus develop a stronger relationship with these products.” Forbes-Bell reveals how this is increasingly the case, “People are becoming much more cognisant of the long lasting impact of their consumer behaviour.”
Luxury resale’s popularity has only grown during the pandemic. I myself have made a couple of lockdown purchases on resale sites. Forbes-Bell provides some insight into the industry’s success during these economically challenging times. “Studies suggest that in times of crisis, consumers seek simplicity and adopt a sociological method to shopping which favors pragmatism over materialism.”
Have luxury brands themselves nudged numerous consumers onto the resale market due to relentless price increases and a lack of availability? For me personally, this has certainly been the case. Every single item I purchased back in the days of me shopping on the primary market has because enhanced considerably in price. Now, it’s routine for the likes of Louis Vuitton and Chanel to increase their prices at least twice a year. A while ago I lost my beloved Louis Vuitton essential Pouch. When I went to the Louis Vuitton site to repurchase the style, I found it had risen in price by much more than a third. At first I was disappointed but in the very next moment I found myself on one of my favorite resale sites fawning over a Multicolore monogram version of the style. I’ve been eyeing up my first ever Chanel bag which I hope to purchase later this year. but unless the going rate for freelance writers increases tenfold between now and then, I’ll be purchasing pre-loved!
Chanel Quilted vintage Mademoiselle Card Holder On Chain
Can The primary and Secondary Markets Co-Exist?
With the primary and secondary luxury markets being so intertwined, it’s important to look at the relationship between the two. Is luxury brands’ embrace of resale inevitable? would it be useful to both new and used luxury sellers? These are conundrums which no one has a definitive answer to yet. but one thing is for sure. luxury brands need to have some sort of a reaction to the rapidly growing resale market. numerous luxury brands and fashion companies have responded to the pre-loved phenomenon by embracing it head-on. In autumn of last year, Gucci launched a collaboration with well-known luxury reseller The RealReal which British vogue dubbed game-changing. The partnership included a special online Gucci shop stocked with consignors’ items. The relocation can be interpreted as both a classic ‘keep your pals close and your enemies closer’ powerplay and a sign that the primary and secondary luxury markets can co-exist in ideal fashion harmony.
It seems substantial sellers also want their piece of the resale pie. popular reseller Vestiaire collective previously had a pop-up shop in Selfridges and e-commerce company Farfetch has its own handbag resale service second Life. but the relationship between growing resale companies and first-hand sellers hasn’t always been so rosy. Chanel previously filed a suit against luxury reseller The RealReal. Needless to say, the relationship is an evolving one.
Despite my (obvious) adoration for the luxury resale market, I would one day like to see the primary and secondary markets working together. possibly luxury brands will make a practice of incorporating pre-loved styles into their product offerings? What’s been clearest to me throughout my adventures down the rabbit hole of luxury resale is the immense demand for brands’ archival designs. At the heart of my love for luxury resale is my love for luxury fashion. The complete antithesis of fast fashion, a luxury bag will last for decades and can have numerous different owners. Resale consumers can invest in luxury bags made eons ago, enjoying them for years more. and I intend to.