Why don’t more luxury brands start their own resale programs?

There’s a new type of customer for luxury brands: the eco-conscious, budget savvy millennial.

Sure, luxury is aspirational, but the resale industry has taught us that even a millennial that makes $60k/year can still afford a Louis Vuitton bag.

The global resale market is valued at $24 Billion and growing, according to ThredUp’s 2019 Resale Report. Resale is growing 21 times faster than retail. In 2019 alone, Neiman Marcus invested in Fashionphile, The RealReal filed for IPO, and Rebag raised $25 Million.

So why aren’t more luxury brands getting into the resale business? With the rise in resale, it boggles my mind that LVMH and Kering haven’t tried to sell their own used products. It’s not that I don’t want to support my friends in the luxury resale business, I’m just genuinely confused why global luxury brands hasn’t tried it yet.

Patagonia’s resale program, Worn Wear, is an example of a brand innovating at the front lines and preparing for a new type of consumer. Online customers searching for pre-owned Patagonia end up at patagonia.com, not eBay or ThredUp or Tradsey. Patagonia controls the experience and ensures that it’s fitting of the Patagonia brand. There is authenticity, quality trust, great product detail and all items are backed by Patagonia’s legendary Iron Clad Guarantee.’

In 2020, TheRealReal launched a partnership with Gucci to promote a circular economy and increase the longevity of Gucci products. This partnership shows that Gucci acknowledges the resale industry. Gucci’s parent company, PRR, who owns other luxury players like Balenciaga and Stella McCartney, has a

Why not start reselling their own used merchandise? The resale industry is huge and it’s apparent that there’s a market for used Louis Vuitton bags and vintage Chanel flap bags. If those items came directly from Louis Vuitton (LVMH) themselves, wouldn’t a customer feel even more confident in the product they’re buying?

Chanel has demonstrated aggression against resale with its lawsuit against The RealReal. The French luxury house claimed that only they — and not any reseller — could guarantee the authenticity of a Chanel handbag. This comment in itself makes me believe that Chanel should be selling its own Chanel too.


Why aren’t more brands doing their own resale or upcycling programs?

The best thing we can do for the planet is get more use out of stuff we already own and that’s already made.

If an item can’t be resold in its current condition, an item could be made into something else or taken apart to use in another item.

Louis Vuitton could start by taking donations of vintage items or buying back used pieces. An inside source at LVMH tells me that Louis Vuitton employs a traveling team to source vintage Louis Vuitton trunks from all over the world as a part of their archival program, so why not do it for their leather goods as well?

Vintage and deadstock (fabric that has never been purchased by a customer) could be upcycled to create something new and bespoke.

Hermes does it with their Petit H collection

At Hermès, the conundrum of leftover leather, silk, and other raw materials have been transformed into an invitation to re-create, a reservoir of inventiveness. The odds and ends of creation are rediscovered by petit h, the creative laboratory where artisans, designers and artists exchange ideas. It offers an opportunity to experiment without boundaries.

Bag, saddle, gloves, shoes, belt… These Hermès objects could not be made without leather. But this precious raw material is not always used in its entirety. Hermes’ genius craftspeople and designers have devised new solutions to reduce and recycle offcuts. One will become a card holder, another the handle of a stone doorstop. Even the smallest pieces of leather find a purpose. They will be sent to whichever production site, sector or partner can turn them into something of value. 

The Hermes Petit H uses scraps and recycled materials to create one-off designs. “Repair is recreation,” their website boasts, as they sell quirky shapes leather bag charms (made from Hermes Birkin scraps) with silk twill cords (made from scarf scraps). Hermes has long since been dedicated to sustainability and respect for natural resources.

By Becca Risa Luna

Seattle-based fashion writer and personal essayist. Likes designer handbags, glaring openness, and subtle vulgarity.

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