Chana Baram
Chana Baram is an Analyst at Mintel focusing on the Retail sector. She harnesses her previous experience to analyse and write reports on the UK market.

Vestiaire Collective, a luxury second-hand fashion website, opened a permanent space in London’s Selfridges, after a series of successful pop-ups in the capital. With the second-hand market enjoying a growth in popularity this year, pre-loved luxury items could appear under the Christmas tree next month. We visited the shop to see what they have to offer.

Pre-owned luxury

As the conversation around sustainability in the fashion industry grows stronger, second-hand fashion and resale websites now play a key role in the conscious consumption of clothing. Therefore, it is unsurprising that luxury retailers and department stores have begun to test the waters when it comes to pre-loved, high-end fashion. In April 2018, luxury department store Harrods teamed up with children’s charity NSPCC for the launch of a Fashion Re-Told pop-up charity shop. Soon after, luxury e-tailer Farfetch launched its Second Life resale business, where people can exchange their pre-loved designer bags for credit.

Collective sustainability

Both of these launches focused on sustainability. Farfetch tells prospective luxury resellers that ‘by selling your bag, you’re doing your bit to extend its life and help the environment’. Harrods’ Fashion Re-Told shop was launched in conjunction with a shop window display that drew attention to the amount of clothing that ends up in landfill. Mintel research on fashion and sustainability shows that over half (57%) of Brits believe that buying too many fashion items is bad for the environment and nearly a third are concerned about landfill waste.

Aspirational retail

Whilst sustainability is an important angle, it is also key for any luxury resale retailers and websites to feel aspirational – a box that the Selfridges tie-up with Vestiaire definitely ticks. An iconic Gucci Dionysus bag is displayed alongside Cartier jewellery and pearl-studded Nicholas Kirkwood shoes in a minimalistic, brightly lit space. The area also includes a space for VIPs to drop off luxury items for resale and a screen for shopping other Vestiaire items. Mintel data shows that most fashion shoppers have bought or are willing to purchase fashion items second-hand.

Premium pieces at fast-fashion price points

Consumer sentiment is changing and luxury resale has become popular due to the fact that it helps make luxury fashion less elitist and more available to the middle classes. Fanny Moizant, co-founder and president of Vestiaire Collective, points out that the affordable luxury brands sold on the website are available “at fast-fashion prices when they are resold secondhand”.

However, the luxury resale market is not all about democratising designer fashion. Many of the websites are selling vintage and limited-edition items for a premium. Currently, in the Vestiaire concession, a Tom Ford Gucci suit is available to purchase for several thousand pounds and a pair of Nike trainers is on display for over £900.

British department stores are struggling to stand out from the crowd and give people a reason to shop there, as consumers feel that too often they sell items that are also available elsewhere. Having a carefully curated space, with unique items that are no longer sold elsewhere, will help to set Selfridges apart.