Luxury seizes the opportunity to be circular

Posted on 24 November 2020.

For several years, second-hand luxury e-commerce websites have been experiencing insolent success. Why? New consumption habits geared towards the circular economy.

Second hand purchases make fashion more accessible

Is the second-hand market in the process of dethroning fast fashion? The second-hand market has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years, and it is expected to grow by an average 12% per year, from an estimated $25 billion turnover worldwide in 2018 to approximately $36 billion in 2021. In any case, this is what a 2019 study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Vestiaire Collective, Why Luxury Brands Should Celebrate the Preowned Boom, has predicted.

Why? The proliferation and professionalisation of second-hand clothing and accessory websites. The latter notably offer a wider and certified product offering, while many counterfeit luxury products are sold online. To do this, they work directly with luxury brands to establish a rigorous authentication process and use experts to control the quality of products offered for sale.  

Among these websites, RealReal is the world leader in authenticated luxury shipping. The American company has sold second-hand clothing, fine jewellery, watches, and even interior decoration since 2011. Another second-hand luxury website, Vestiaire Collective, is European number one and second world leader in the second-hand luxury sector.
Launched in 2009 in France, the website currently has more than nine million members in fifty countries, in Europe, the United States, Asia, and Australia. ‘The second-hand market has made fashion more accessible by giving wider public access to luxury clothing and accessories that people could not otherwise have hoped to buy’, said CEO Maximilian Bittner.

Consumers who care about the environment

Beyond the accessibility of vintage items, the appeal of second-hand luxury goods can be explained by the emergence of digital native consumers who are keen to adopt environmentally friendly patterns. Millennials (born between 1985 and 1995) and Generation Z (after 1995) thus represent the majority of second-hand consumers, according to the 2019 study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Vestiaire Collective. 
They are not the only ones to benefit from this circular luxury economy: for fashion designers, the second-hand market is a way of reaching new audiences and attracting responsible consumers.