Fashion Industries at War
We truly feel in our hearts that preloved fashion is the best journey that every style lover can take to stay true to their core values. While we 100% recognise that unbridled desire to invest in beautiful, unique and exquisitely-made pieces to last forever, we also recognise the devastating impact that buying new has on our world. While there’s no escaping the fact that we exist in a consumerist society, preloved is a way to embrace our love for style without having a negative influence on the environment and wider world.
Original vs. Resale
This is why we feel so passionately about sharing what is going on behind the scenes of the fashion world. In one corner, we have the huge luxury fashion powerhouses. In the other corner, we have the preloved trade – a super-fast-growing market that is set to be worth $84 billion by 2030, in comparison to the predicted $40 billion worth of fast fashion. But despite the overwhelming, negative impact of fast, new fashion, the luxury fashion houses are not supporting the preloved trade but doing all they can to stop sales.
We would hope and expect the luxury powerhouses to embrace the rise of preloved, especially considering the consistently devastating effects of climate change, much of which is caused by avoidable human consumption. But despite this and despite the fact it does not impact on their clientele or market sales, some of these brands are actively trying to destroy the preloved trade all together.
The Power of Preloved
In order to fight back against the resale market, French fashion house Chanel have put a strict limit on the number of bags that consumers in certain markets can buy over a one-year period. In Korea, Chanel’s new policy is that “each customer can buy one Timeless Classic flap bag and one Coco Handle bag per year.” They have also put quotas in place for on small leather goods, including wallets and pouches.
Hermès have also notoriously limited the quantities that consumers can purchase of certain “quota” bags, namely the Birkin and Kelly bags, to two bags per a calendar year in what they have coined a “very limited distribution strategy.” Rolex and Louis Vuitton are more of the global fashion superpowers that have taken steps to restrict per-capita purchases of their most popular products.
Some of these brands have taken things one step further. According to website The Fashion Law, Chanel have even gone so far as to replace their original card-and-serial-number authentication system with microchips that can only be authenticated using Chanel’s own technology. Hermès have added language to its sales receipts where buyers agree that they “will not, directly or indirectly, resell Hermès products purchased in our boutiques for commercial purposes.” Chanel have also filed lawsuits and launched lengthy legal battles against resellers.
Why is this happening? Simply put, because these brands feel threatened. Ironically, the efforts that these global luxury superstar brands are taking to get a handle on the secondary market simply reinforces just how powerful resale really is.
The big luxury brands fear that the popularity of resale and preloved goods may overshadow their market position and they may relinquish an element of control over their brand marketing. They fear that the popularity of resale will take something away from their hard-earned image and the exclusivity of their products. They even fear that increased purchase of resale items will reduce sales of their new collections.
The Value of Difference
Beyond the depressing nature of such a battle, these luxury brands are missing one very key point – that the resale market and the luxury market are appealing to two very different audiences. Some people simply prefer buying preloved because it comes with a story while others love a bargain and many prioritise how it aligns with their values.
But it also goes deeper than that. A love for designer fashion is not restricted to those with the budget to afford all the latest items from their best-loved designers. Preloved caters to those clients who love the beauty and quality of designer products but may not always have the budget – or inclination - to buy new. It is a way for them to embrace their love for the features of designer items (longevity, beauty, originality, sustainability) without being forced to turn to high street fast fashion simply because they don’t earn enough to buy new.
Preloved is a way for people to stay true to the values they hold dear without spending money they don’t have. Those who buy new designer pieces off the catwalk season after season represent an entirely different demographic and their preferences are no less important and entirely up to the individual. But they are poles apart from the preloved market.
Regardless of where they are buying from, the consumer is buying into that designer brand and the appeal of the resale market is down to the value of the original luxury brands. In this way, we can see that luxury brands cutting off the preloved market are actually cutting off a large portion of their own fanbase
The age-old adage also applies here – if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. The resale market is growing at an incredible and increasing rate and it is those brands that continue to fight against it that will ultimately lose out. Some of the big names have already wised up to this and created resale partnerships, including Alexander McQueen with Vestaire Collective. There’s also the option to establish a resale concept in-house, such as Gucci via the Gucci Vault.
It’s an intelligent and strategic move to show solidarity with this much-loved, fast-growing market. It’s also good business sense as it allows luxury brands to gain a level of control over resales. It dramatically reduces the risk of dissatisfied consumers who have invested in poor quality preloved items and risk denting the reputation of huge brands who depend entirely on it. It also gives luxury brands the opportunity to embrace the direction that the industry is going in and showcase a willingness to engage in sustainable practice.
Curious for more? Browse our blog posts for discussion on all things preloved and take a look through our store to discover your new fashion BFFs.