These days, it seems as though there is constantly a new statistic highlighting the harmful effects of the fashion industry on the environment. At this point, it is just about common knowledge that the fashion industry is second to only the oil industry in the rankings for the biggest polluters in the world.
But, the stats don’t stop there. According to Business insider, the fashion industry emits “more carbon than international flights and maritime shipping combined”. This is undoubtedly caused by the increase in merchandise that consumers purchase annually. Shoppers bought “60% more garments in 2014 than they did in 2000”. And, even worse, “85% of all textiles go to the dump each year”. This goes hand in hand with the fact that 60% of each shopper’s closet goes unworn.
Generally, fast fashion brands are held accountable for the negative impact the industry has on the environment. However, even luxury brands contribute to the unsustainability of textile manufacturing. Luxury fashion brands all have the opportunity to right their wrongs by offsetting carbon emissions produced by their supply chains, but most do not take this challenge.
Focusing on sustainability is not on the top of most luxury brands’ priority list in fear that it will interfere with brand image, or it’s too expensive, or any other list of excuses. Previously, selling secondhand merchandise had not even been an option to high ticket labels, but with the weight of “10% of humanity’s carbon emissions” on the industry’s shoulder, it appears it is time for a change in daily operations.
Companies like Alexander McQueen and Mulberry are taking a step into the unknown when it comes to secondhand luxury, but they aren’t doing it alone. Luxury brands have enlisted third parties to help connect consumers with preowned merchandise, one of which is the online marketplace, Vestiaire Collective.
Here’s a look at the topics we are going to cover today:
- Vestiaire Collective Background
- Secondhand in Luxury
- Vestiaire Collective: Brand Approved
1. Vestiaire Collective Background
Vestiaire Collective is a Paris-based resell site started by Fanny Moizant and Sophie Hersan in 2009. The company began before luxury resale sites like Rebag and The Real Real came into the market. In an interview with Forbes, the cofounders explained that the company was founded after they realized that most of their friends were in possession of closets “full of beautiful designer pieces they no longer wore”. It was also newly becoming a trend for influencers to sell their clothing online. Back in 2009, the only true option for consumers to sell their pre-owned clothes was eBay, but this site lacked a “fashion curation and trust element” that the owners strived to provide to customers. The site began with 3000 pieces that were completely sourced from the founder’s friends, with the hope to give the merchandise a new life.
Moizant explained that the platform is targeted to “fashion lovers from all around the world”, which is proven today by its 9 million members from over 50 countries. The company’s name began as “Vestiaire de Copines” (which translated from French means “the friend’s wardrobe”) but switched to the current brand name when the company launched in the UK. Hersan explains that this new name spoke to the organization’s mission: “creating the world’s most desirable wardrobe by connecting a global community of fashion lovers…a platform for to buy, sell, and share their wardrobes with each other” (Forbes).
Vestiaire Collective’s best-selling items are all high luxury brand’s like Gucci and Balenciaga, but it also carries a long list of contemporary, sustainable, and vintage collections. Each item found on the website goes through an extensive authentication process. Employee’s a Vestiaire Collective sort through countless pictures submitted by sellers in order to allow only merchandise in the best conditions to be sold on the site. Then, once an item is sold, the seller sends it to one of the company’s logistics hubs in either the US, France, or Asia to receive a physical quality check by an in-house-specialists. The specialists conducting the check look for the shape, style, materials, labels, serial numbers and minute details to meet strict quality standards before shipped to the buyer.
Moizant describes the next steps that the business will take will ab ones that continue to empower its community. The founder’s plan on doing so by launching new features on the Vestiaire collective app, as well as planning “many partnerships with forward-thinking brands”. The brand has held true to its word with its recent addition of Brand Approved secondhand shopping, sparking innovation in the resell market.
2. Secondhand in Luxury
The secondhand luxury market has seemingly grown overnight, with the popularity of e-commerce platforms like The Real Real, Rebag, Depop, and Fashionphile skyrocketing. Before brands like these came onto the marketplace, the only option for consumers to sell their luxury goods was on resell sites that did not have a consistent image with a luxury shopping experience. The growth does not seem to be stopping anytime soon either, according to a survey run by BCG of 7,000 Vestiaire Collective consumers from different countries (CPP Luxury). According to the survey, the market for secondhand luxury will grow by a compound annual growth rate of 15-20% over the next five years. CPP Luxury summarizes that the most desirable aspect of secondhand shopping is the sustainability aspect, according to 70% of the shoppers surveyed. Another statistic from this study confirmed that “62% of consumers would buy more from fashion brands that partner with secondhand players”.
This growth in the pre-owned market appears to be a complete turnaround from the pattern of behavior that we have seen from consumers over the last few years that have fueled the popularity of fast fashion brands like Zara and H&M. With the constant development of trends on social media, shoppers have wanted the newest styles as quick and cheap as possible in order to keep up with new styles. And, in order to satisfy customer’s needs for efficient shopping, fast fashion brands are quickly and cheaply producing 20 or more collections a year as opposed to the traditional four per year. Producing these many lines annually contributes to not only the overuse of resources but creates a large carbon footprint throughout the supply chain.
This detrimental process is the reason that resells sites are becoming so popular. However, companies that partake in the resale of luxury items run the risk of supporting the sale of fraudulent products on their sites. The Real Real and fashion house Chanel have an ongoing federal court case regarding counterfeiting and trademark infringement. According to The Fashion Law, Chanel filed the court case claiming that The Real Real has also attempted to “deceive consumers into falsely believing that [it] has some kind of approval from or an association or affiliation” with the luxury brands in addition to selling fake brand-named merchandise.
In an attempt to prevent this sort of infringement, Vestiaire Collection is taking extra steps to ensure the authentication of luxury merchandise.
3. Vestiaire Collective: Brand Approved
To create an authentic, sustainable luxury shopping experience, Vestiaire Collective has launched its new “Brand Approved” collections. The site explains that the process is simple—“Brands invite their most loyal customers to sell their pre-owned items”, that are tagged as “Brand Approved” on the site. This initiative hopes to completely revolutionize the fashion industry, as “the simple act of buying a second-hand handbag over new can reduce its environmental impact by up to 91%” (Vestiaire Collective).
Alexander McQueen and Mulberry have been among the first brands to partner with Vestiaire Collective in this initiative. All items listed on Vestiaire Collective are already authenticated by the site’s quality assurance teams, but the new line of brand approved by both the resell authenticators as well as authenticators from the luxury brands.
This new initiative will be innovative for all resell sites. Double authentication will become a standard practice for reselling companies globally. Cofounder Moizant explained that this new program highlights “the importance of durability in fashion, celebrating pieces that are crafted to stand the test of time”. She goes on in her interview with Fashion United to mention that the company is “passionate about supporting brands to embed circularity in their model”.
The goal of preserving circularity in the fashion industry is the idea that merchandise is “circulated for as long as their maximum value is retained and then returned safely to the biosphere when they no longer are of use” (Motif). This call for brands to be more mindful of circular fashion will hopefully encourage companies to think beyond just the initial use of an item and think about the next use of the product after the original purchase.
Promoting circular fashion puts a lot of emphasis on the consumer to continue the cycle. Shoppers must also look past the initial purpose of an item, and think forward to reselling, upcycling, or recycling their items. But, with the help of reselling companies like Vestiaire Collective, luxury consumers can be more aware of the importance of maintaining a circular fashion cycle. Not only that but they can also be helped through the process with collections as Brand Approved. In the long run collections and partnerships like the ones Vestiaire Collection has built will help reduce the environmental damage that the fashion industry creates through daily operations.
the world, second to only the oil industry. Textile production creates about 1.2 billion tons of carbon annually. Fast fashion brands greatly contribute to the consumer behavior trend of buying cheaply produced clothes very often, instead of high-quality clothes that will last forever. However, luxury brands that make high-quality merchandise are not necessarily doing everything in their power to create sustainable business practices, either.
Many luxury brands strictly focus on the brand image as opposed to their environmental impact, but with consumers increasingly becoming more conscious of the importance of green initiatives, these ideologies will be forced to change sooner rather than later. Vestiaire Collective is determined to revolutionize the fashion industry by creating a space for luxury consumers to resell their merchandise.
While Vestiaire Collection began with pieces sourced from a group of friends in Paris, it is now a marketplace for 9 million users in over 50 countries. Each item found on the site is authenticated using the quality assurance teams at one of three major logistics hubs in either the US, France, or Asia. This is more than other resell websites do, as other e-commerce platforms have faced legal trouble for supporting the sale of unauthentic merchandise.
To prevent fraudulent sales on its website, and to encourage sustainable luxury shopping practices, Vestiaire Collection has gone a step further to certify items from brands in partner with the website as “Brand Approved”. Items in these collections with brands like Alexander McQueen and Mulberry will be double authenticated by quality assurance teams at the luxury brands themselves as well. This initiative will not only be helpful for Vestiaire Collective’s image, but also the image of the luxury brands in partnership. Each party involved has a stake in moving the fashion industry towards a more circular life cycle of the fashion industry, meaning that products are given new life past simply their initial purchase.
Although it has been a trend for consumers to purchase more clothes in a year to keep up with current trends, over 60% of a consumer’s wardrobe goes unworn. Companies that emphasize the importance of giving preowned clothes a new life will, in the long run, revolutionize the overall sustainability of the industry. Companies following these practices that encourage consumers to consider sustainability can help reduce carbon emissions one purchase at a time. Vestiaire Collective is not only helping with sustainability efforts, but it is also giving luxury consumers a marketplace to buy and sell items on a platform that is consistent with a luxury shopping experience.