Second-hand fashion has been making waves in the luxury market, with high-end retailers and department stores, such as Selfridges, now entering this space. Not only is buying second-hand viewed as a way to get better value for money but since the rise in consumer awareness around sustainability, it is also seen as a good way to avoid buying new and enhance the longevity of items.

For more information see the Department Stores – UK, July 2019 and Fashion & Sustainability – UK, August 2019 Reports.

What we’ve seen

  • Vestiaire has returned to Selfridges after its successful pop-up trial that took place in the autumn and winter of 2018.

  • Fellow luxury department store, Harrods, had also entered the second-hand space with its NSPCC charity pop-up shop.

  • Interest in second-hand fashion is high - 43% of fashion shoppers have bought items second-hand in the last 12 months, while 24% have not yet done so but would be interested in doing so in the future.

Conscious coupling

Vestiaire Collective, a luxury resale website that launched in France in 2009, first worked with Selfridges in late 2018 with a series of two-week pop-ups, a womenswear one from the 22nd October – 5th November and a menswear pop-up from 19th November – 3rd December in its Oxford Street store. Items curated for the pop-ups included timeless pieces such as Dior saddle bags, Prada Nylon accessories and Chanel bags and accessories. Vestiaire’s vintage team was also on hand to offer valuations and advice, giving people the opportunity to offload their luxury pre-loved pieces. Spurred on by the success of this initiative, in late October 2019 Selfridges opened its first permanent space dedicated to pre-loved fashion with a concession run by Vestiaire.

Figure 1: Vestiaire’s permanent space in Selfridges
[graphic: image 1]
Source: Mintel

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 other luxury retailers and department stores have also begun to test the waters when it comes to pre-loved luxury 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 (see Analyst Insight Harrods Launches Charity Pop-Up Shop - 27th April 2018). The second iteration followed in May 2019. This same month, luxury e-tailer Farfetch launched its Second Life resale business, where people can exchange their pre-loved designer bags for credit. 

Figure 2: Inside Harrods latest Re-Told charity shop, April 2019
[graphic: image 2]
Source: NSPCC/Harrods

Collective sustainability

Both of these launches focused on the sustainability element, Farfetch tells prospective luxury resellers that ‘by selling your bag, you’re doing your bit to extend its life and help the environment’. Harrods initial 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. This is very much in line with Mintel Trend Buydeology, which discusses how people are more likely to affiliate themselves with retailers that share their ethics and values. Indeed, data from the Fashion & Sustainability – UK, August 2019 Report shows that over half (57%) of all those surveyed believe that buying too many fashion items is bad for the environment and nearly a third (30%) are concerned about landfill waste. Indeed, data collected by Vestiaire shows that over half (54%) of its customers said they bought and sold on Vestiaire Collective because they wanted to shop more sustainably. 

Aspirational retail

Whilst sustainability is an important angle, it is also key for any luxury re-sale retailers and websites to feel aspirational and this is 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. Data from our Fashion & Sustainability Report shows that over two thirds (67%) of fashion shoppers have bought or are willing to purchase fashion items second-hand. 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.

Figure 3: Interactive screen at the Vestiaire Selfridges boutique, 2019
[graphic: image 3]
Source: Mintel

Premium pieces at fast-fashion price points

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. Mintel’s Department Stores – UK, July 2019 Report reveals that 70% of people who shopped in a department store felt that too often they sell items that are also available elsewhere. Having a carefully curated space, with items that are no longer sold elsewhere, will help to set Selfridges apart.

Figure 4: A red velvet Gucci suit and limited-edition Nike trainers on display, 2019
[graphic: image 4]
Source: Mintel

What it means

  • As people become more aware of the impact that producing fashion items has on the environment many are turning to the second-hand market to update their style.

  • Buying second-hand is becoming increasingly popular in the luxury sector as it is helping to make the sector more accessible.

  • Department stores, in particular, need to stand out from the crowd and give people a reason to shop there. Opening up a permanent space for second-hand brands is a good way of doing just that.

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