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Second-hand Gucci: Luxury labels’ future is in shoppers’ closets

There’s always the thrill of finding something really cool, something you always wanted but could never afford. Suddenly, it pops up on your screen,” Antonia Barthel told DW. The 27-year-old woman from Munich peruses high-end resale platforms weekly, hunting for secondhand luxury fashion.

Second-hand Gucci: Luxury labels’ future is in shoppers’ closets


It’s customers like her who are causing fashion labels to reconsider their stance towards the resale sector. Earlier this month, Kering, the luxury behemoth that owns brands such as Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga, acquired a 5% stake in the French high-end resale platform Vestiaire Collective. The resale market was previously shunned by luxury fashion houses, who are wary of ceding control of the distribution, price and perception of their items. Kering’s investment could signal a wider pivot towards resale in the industry.

Francois-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of Kering, said in a statement: “Pre-owned luxury is now a real and deeply rooted trend.” The shabby, used image of secondhand clothing is gradually fading. Preloved is the new motto of many young fashionistas. “It never bothered me that the clothes have been worn before. They feel new to me,” Barthel said.

The fact that shiny no longer has to mean new is “simply the contemporary approach to designer fashion,” Max Schonemann, CEO of the German luxury fashion resale platform Rebelle, told DW.

While the fashion industry is projected to take its biggest financial hit in decades during the pandemic, the resale industry is thriving. Through resale platforms such as Vestiaire Collective and Rebelle, consumers are selling their unwanted clothes directly to other consumers online. Vestiaire Collective grew by more than 100% in the past year. 140,000 new items are now uploaded onto the platform every day. “The past few months were the best in our business’ history,” Rebelle’s Schonemann told DW. Resale platforms are particularly popular amongst millennials and Gen Z, who are thriftier and more focused on sustainability than older consumer segments. By giving the secondhand industry the cold shoulder, luxury fashion brands have been missing out on the opportunity to attract a big market.

Kering’s recent investment is aimed at “recruiting the consumers of tomorrow,” Thomas Chauvet of Citigroup told DW.

Chauvet points out that cooperation with resale sites is also a way to gather data on consumers’ shopping behaviour and brand desirability. Affordability is a major driver of secondhand luxury sales. “I wouldn’t buy a Chloe handbag in a store, but I did recently buy a secondhand one online,” Barthel said. The 27-year-old is proud of owning such a high-quality bag, it has become a staple in her wardrobe. Exorbitant price tags meant buying a luxury handbag was a distant dream for most consumers. The resale sector has brought it within reach.

The pandemic has accelerated the trend towards affordable designer fashion: About half of millennials and mature Gen Z have experienced a decrease in income since the start of the coronavirus crisis. By partnering with resale players, luxury brands such as Alexander Mcqueen, Gucci and Burberry are slowly attempting to build up loyalty with younger customers amid the pandemic slump. The collaborations hint at an evolving attitude in the luxury sector, one which welcomes thrifty consumers.

This article was provided by Deutsche Welle

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