As a lover and buyer of high-end luxury, which extends beyond bags, shoes and accessories, I have learned much from being exposed to the people and practices of the industry. While I admit that I will never have the same insight as someone working directly for these luxury brands, I have gleaned enough information over these last few years to understand that many common practices are hurting the resale of full priced purchases made in boutique.
Gifting to influencers, celebrities and those in the fashion industry
My first point is that brands ruin the resale market by pre-releasing seasonal products to bloggers, celebrities and others of note in the industry. You only have to scour sights like Vestiaire Collective before a big Dior or Chanel collection is about to launch, to catch glimpses of designer items not yet obtainable in boutiques for sale on the site. More often than not, they will be priced significantly below retail, despite not even being available in store. If you want to know the reason why this is possible, it’s due to those of influence in the fashion industry reselling the pieces that have been gifted to them by the luxury fashion houses. They have probably worn the item once for an Instagram post or fashion show and then for some quick, easy cash they sell their “gift” online.
Whether or not this is frowned upon by the high-end brands I don’t know. The problem regardless is that it happens, and it instantly devalues the marketplace for clients who have paid full price. Not only that, it makes that hyped up item you’ve been lusting for feel instantly cheapened. You cannot compete with someone who is willing to sell his or her luxury item for next to nothing because they were given it for free. This means that those legitimately needing to sell a current season item (e.g. it’s a gift, regretful purchase, doesn’t suit after alterations etc.) may be severely undercut. While it’s all good and well for luxury houses to use those with influence to create hype around a product or collection, instead of gifting pre-release items they should be loaning them out and paying the influencer for their services. Or if the item is gifted, the house should ensure that the items cannot then be resold. Turning a blind eye to this resale market is extremely wrong in my eyes to the paying clients who support the luxury industry and keep the RTW collections alive. As a side note, I would also like to mention that it’s not always the influencer’s fault for needing to sell a gifted item. Brands are so happy to exchange products for services, but rarely do they adequately compensate a talented influencer in money for their time. Last time I checked, a designer t-shirt or shoes do not pay the bills. This will be an interesting topic to elaborate on in the future.
High End Fashion House “Staff Sales”
Another practice that dilutes the resale market is staff sales. Again, you only have to do a simple search on eBay or Vestiaire Collective to find many RTW items and bags being resold by the workers of luxury fashion houses. Staff members of designer brands enjoy a considerable discount on pieces that are many seasons old. For Chanel I’m guessing this is over 2 years old, as in Australia that’s the time when items go on 50% clearance and never return to the boutique. While I'm uncertain about the specifics, I can safely theorize that those privy to the staff sales enjoy significantly more than 50% off. In fact, since posting this article I received a DM on Instagram where I was informed that the discount for those working under the LVMH group is a whopping 80-90% on RTW and certain accessories. Seeing as those privy to the staff sales can purchase their pieces so inexpensively, they can then afford to sell their items for a pittance (and still make a profit!). I’ve definitely seen and heard of this this happening online and it's insulting for clients paying full price for these same pieces. With such people diluting the market for a quick and easy sale, it becomes quite challenging to obtain a fair price on a RTW item or seasonal bag you have grown out of love with. I will end this point by saying it blows my mind that some staff, especially those in senior positions or who have been with a company for many years, may actually have better collections than many clients. Just imagine that next time your SA is serving you!
Also seeing as I am very familiar with Chanel, I thought I would share a few tips on finding staff sale items. The method for identifying staff clearance items may vary depending on the country it was purchased from, however commonly you may see the RTW label removed, partially removed or crossed out in black permanent marker. For bags, they may come with no authenticity card and/or have the hologram blanked or removed. Some may even have the leather stamped with a unique code, so that if it surfaces online, the culprit can be identified by head office. This is basically a feeble attempt to deter resale of staff discounted items, however the reality is that these methods aren’t 100% foolproof.
Oversaturation of the market
One thing that draws many people into making luxury fashion purchases is the fact that their item will be limited and special. As the years and seasons go by though, I’m finding that a lot of fashion houses are becoming repetitive, lazily changing a few minor details on pieces from last season. Recently for example, I saw a rather specific looking fringed jacket creation for Chanel’s Paris Cosmopolite range that looked like it was exactly from Cruise Cuba, which was only two commercial collections ago. Another real and more personal gripe were the aviator sunglasses from the Chanel Airlines Collection. I loved the design, and being told that they were super limited and only a seasonal runway offering, I bought all of the 3 color variations. Then just a month ago, over a year after purchasing them, I see that they have become a more permanent offering being sold at David Jones. While that alone is disappointing, to add insult to injury they were retailing for $200 less than what I paid in the Chanel boutique. If I had have known that they were going to become some sort of mass-produced piece, I wouldn’t have bothered with them. Now they are virtually like every other common piece of Chanel eyewear that is at every sunglasses store. It is over saturation like this that really destroys the resale market. It undermines the rarity and uniqueness of a special item, thus decreasing its value. Even worse, it also creates buyer complacency. If 10 of the same items are up for resale online, people are more likely to wait around to see whether further discounts will be applied. It makes it so hard for someone to sell a piece they no longer want, and as such they have to take a huge hit if they want it gone quickly.
Finally my last point is that the sales, which we so love and adore, also hurt the second hand market. There is no greater burn than seeing an item you paid full price for being flogged off at 50% clearance. While not all items make it to sale, for the ones that do people will often expect to pay less than 50% when searching for it on the resale market.
As I have come to realize the full extent to which these brands are damaging the resale market, I feel less and less inclined to purchase their full priced seasonal, trendy or collector products. If anything now catches my eye I will be keeping an eye out for it on the second hand market.
Share you thoughts below as I and many others would love to hear them!
Adrianna is wearing
Chanel Paris in Rome Pre-Fall tunic dress, belt, bag and snake mules.