Resale as the New Retale: The Rise of Vestiare Collective
This past November, Vestiaire Collective have celebrated their tenth anniversary by introducing their first permanent shop on the third floor at Selfridges. The Parisian luxury resale website, set up in 2009 by Fanny Moizant and Sophie Hersan, has become a shopping staple for over nine million high-end thrifters worldwide. The boutique follows on from a successful two-week pop-up last year and has begun by selling a carefully curated edit of two hundred pre-loved garments that includes brands such as Chanel and Maison Margiela.
Illustration by Grace Han
The opening arguably indicates a shift in the way people think about their clothing consumption. With improved media coverage of climate change, it is unsurprising that so many of us are trying to reduce our contribution to an industry that is reportedly responsible for 10% of greenhouse gases. Moizant and Hersan have reacted to consumers’ awareness of ‘fashion and sustainability’ by challenging the ‘traditional ideas of ownership’ within retail; they advocate clothing as an investment that could be sold on rather than being thrown away after a few wears. Vestiaire Collective reports that extending the lifespan of a garment by a mere nine months could reduce its water and waste footprint by an astonishing 30%. If so, the circular fashion economy could potentially have a markedly positive impact on the environment.
The desire to reduce emissions, however, might not be the only thing driving sales of pre-loved clothing. Iconic pieces from designers’ archives are increasingly influencing current fashion trends: Vestiaire Collective’s most viewed items remain to be the classic Dior Saddle bag and Fendi Baguette. This is fully understood by head of vintage Marie Blanchet who has seen the ‘timeless classics from luxury houses’ enduring as much popularity online as the more ‘conceptual pieces from contemporary’ labels. Unique to the company, Customers can also be assured by the authenticity of their items with each garment being carefully checked by their in-house team of experts before purchase.
The partnerships between larger brands such as Selfridges and resale platforms are on the increase. With the pre-owned market set to grow by around 12% each year, the fashion industry is eager to introduce second-hand clothes into more traditional retail spaces. Ralph Lauren has recently collaborated with the resale app Depop to create Re/Sourced, a curated selection of some of the label’s vintage pieces, whilst Browns Fashion has similarly launched a collection with One Vintage. These collaborations are seen by Moizant and Hersan as being ‘really powerful’ as they provide important exposure to the resale market, hopefully making it the new norm.
The success of Vestiaire Collective, now in its tenth year, demonstrates the public’s shifting mindset towards fashion. Consumers are increasingly aware of how their purchases have the potential to alter the course of climate change for the better.
Speaking to the press earlier this year, Valli commented that he “saw it as a challenge” to adapt his brand for the masses and that it was an “opportunity to do something unexpected.” This ‘something unexpected’ was first unveiled in May when supermodel Kendall Jenner wore one of the collection’s fabulously ostentatious gowns on the Cannes red carpet. It immediately sent the internet into a frenzy, as millions of fervent fashion followers tried to obtain the garment from a mini launch designed to get them salivating. This craze had still not subsided when the full line was finally launched on November 7th; hundreds of people eagerly queued outside Regent Street’s store in a determined attempt to make a purchase.
The wardrobes of those lucky few who managed to secure an item would have seen an instantaneous transformation. The sixty-one-piece collection boasts a range of extravagant tulle dresses that ensure the wearer is the centre of attention during the upcoming party season. One scarlet-red number, widely shared on social media, sports a high-low hem, deep V-neck, and outlandish tulle sleeves. It is simultaneously romantic and formidable, an outfit well-suited for a feminist reimagining of Mrs Claus. A more wearable piece is a simple black mini dress with embroidered detail and a ‘Peter Pan’ collar. Paired with the right fur coat, a pair of tights, and black boots, it is the perfect fit to walk through the neon-lit streets of London in the winter months.
Valli further rose to the challenge of creating his first menswear range when collaborating with H&M, although he is anxious not to label it as such. “In the collection, there is no man, no woman,” he states, “it is very fluid – anyone can wear it anyway they want to.” This sentiment is particularly convincing in regards to the sparkly sequin blazer placed under the ‘Valli Boys’ line; it would look equally dashing with a leather mini skirt as it would if it was worn by Harry Styles. The boxer shorts 3 pack, however, is arguably not as universal or fluid as the rest of the collection.
It is unsurprising that with such a successful transference of his iconic looks from his habitual haute couture to the high street, Giambattista Valli’s collaboration with H&M has reached both critical acclaim and cult status amongst the fashion crowd. Christmas certainly came early for those who managed to grab a piece.