Home > Style > Fashion > Second-hand luxury merch: The new sustainability trend to get on-board stat
Second-hand luxury merch: The new sustainability trend to get on-board stat

Any trend in fashion is largely a seasonal trend. With sustainability high on everyone’s minds right now, resale of luxury goods is not so far behind. That’s right. It’s the second-hand luxury market that consumers are moving towards, which in more ways than one is sustainable fashion – reusing, repairing, recycling, gifting, and reselling. Consignment platforms like the French Vestiaire Collective and the Singapore based Reebonz have been stakeholders in this market since 2009, paving the way for a resurgence of pre-owned merchandise. By 2021, the second-hand industry is set to be worth an estimated US$36 billion according to a report from the Boston Consulting Group.

Second-hand luxury
Photo: Vestiaire Collective

To take advantage of this growing market, many established players have been dipping their hands into creating their own resale destinations. The online retail platform Farfetch announced their Second Life initiative earlier this year, where owners of designer bags can exchange them for credit to spend on the site. Think of it like trading in your phone, except you’re doing it with a Hermès Birkin.

Locally, there are sites like Confidential Couture and LabelCentric, two resale platforms that cater to a broad categorisation of merchandise including bags, clothes, shoes, jewellery, stationery, and accessories. Yes, they have their individual authentication methods.

With all that said and done, why should you consider adding resale platforms to your frequently-visited online shopping sites?

Support sustainability in fashion
Second-hand luxury
Fanny Moizant, co-founder of Vestiaire Collective, is an avid user of her own resale destination, most recently snagging a pair of sold-out Sacai x Nike sneakers. (Photo: Vestiaire Collective)

Sustainability in the fashion industry is no longer just a buzzword. Many companies have taken concrete steps to ensure that their merchandise isn’t negatively impacting the environment. Kering has been leading the ideal of sustainability within fashion itself, most notably starting the Fashion Pact with 32 global style leaders. Maria Grazia Chiuri’s vision for the Dior Spring/Summer 2020 show is also rooted in sustainability, with much of the set design going back into the environment or slated to be reused in other practical ways.

In the same vein, buying second-hand luxury goods is also a way to support sustainability in fashion. Stella McCartney, dubbed the “Queen of Sustainability” by fashion commentators, has long been a fan of the consignment and rental industry. She told Vogue earlier in February that “if every single second there’s a truckload of fast fashion being incinerated or landfilled, then [she is] a big, big believer in reusing that and [participating in] the circular economy.”

Second-hand luxury

McCartney isn’t speaking hypothetically. When a report revealed that Burberry had been burning its unsold stock to an amount of S$50 million in a single year, the outcry and furor that it sparked caused the British fashion house to immediately cease this practice (they also announced that they would stop using fur in their clothes).

“We see more young people participating and becoming advocates – doing proper research before buying a product, so they know exactly where the products come from and how they’re made,” Fanny Moizant, co-founder of Vestiaire Collective told us over email. But despite the enthusiasm for sustainability, Moizant noted that majority of millennials are still unaware about the circular future of fashion. The concept in its essence means that the life of every garment is cyclical. From its design to its production to its use, nothing is ever tossed out the gutter. When its lifespan in a closet is up, the piece is then sold to someone else, given away, or in some cases upcycled to create something new. Buying pre-owned merchandise is just one part of this cyclical process, ensuring that less goes into our landfills.

Indulge in Old Celine

When Phoebe Philo stepped down from Celine last year, resale sites like The RealReal and Vestiaire Collective saw searches for her classic pieces skyrocket, with the latter platform experiencing an increase of 43 percent of Celine products sold after Hedi Slimane’s debut in October 2018. No shade to Slimane here, but Philo’s iconic Luggage and Classic bags are in the same league as the aforementioned Baguettes and Birkins, the only difference being that new pieces aren’t going to be made (at least not in the near future).

The only way then for lovers of ‘Old Celine’ to get their hands on a coveted bag from the reign of Philo is to turn to resale platforms. But it’s not only leather goods that are a hot commodity on the market. An old Celine coat from 2017 caught the eye of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley last year, setting the English model on a quest to find that said coat. With the help of personal shopper Gabriel Waller, Huntington-Whiteley managed to snag the piece in mint condition from a seller in Denmark.


View this post on Instagram


Coat of my dreams 🖤 @oldceline tracked down by the amazing @gabwallerdotcom. Thank you @gabwaller for your service!

A post shared by Rosie HW (@rosiehw) on

But the second-hand luxury market is not just limited to products from Old Celine. Resale platforms are also a way for those without the needed access to purchase more exclusive products, like a Birkin for instance. Your regular Hermès boutique isn’t going to be stocking an alligator skin Birkin with palladium hardware, and obtaining one is going to be a task of high order. An easier route you could go instead of ordering one and waiting six months is to approach a reselling site that has them in stock. Say goodbye to long waiting times, and hello to your new orange box.

Accessibility in affordability

Besides ultra-luxurious products like Hermès Kellys and Louis Vuitton x Supreme items, resale destinations offer consumers an easier way into the world of luxury fashion. A study done by Vestiaire Collective showed that 97 percent of their customers buy second-hand partly because of the value for money.

This is in no doubt partially because of the millennial need to chase “the next big drop.” Gucci sneakers and Balenciaga sweaters are all the rage today, appearing as casually on Instagram feeds as a overly-filtered photo of a Balinese sunset. But not everyone can afford a pair of $840 sneakers on a whim, and those who want to join in turn to the secondary market for their ticket to the world of clout.

Make no mistake: Some luxury pieces are considered investments – a Birkin appreciates in value up to 125 percent on average according to Reebonz. Not everyone is attempting to rival Victoria Beckham’s collection of Birkins, though, and are content to join their streetwear crowd with their logomanic accessories. Even so, the secondary market is a stepping stone into the realms of high-luxury for those who previously did not have the access. Sneaker resellers still in their teens are making up to six figures a year.

There’s never been a better time to enter the second-hand luxury market. Whether they’re pre-owned or pre-loved, it is finally stepping out of the shadows of the primary, first-hand market, and out into the arms of a more conscious consumer. The best part? Everyone can be a part of it. All you have to do is click ‘Add to cart’.

Second-hand luxury merch: The new sustainability trend to get on-board stat

Lifestyle Asia

Here's where you can read the latest news and stories from Lifestyle Asia and our sister titles PrestigeOnline and Augustman, curated from all of our editions in Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and India.

Sign up for our newsletters to have the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox every week.

Yes, I agree to the Privacy Policy

Never miss an update

Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates.

No Thanks
You’re all set

Thank you for your subscription.