CORRECTED: Luxury brands need not fear the pre-owned fashion boom, says Vestiaire Collective

Vestiaire Collective AW19 campaign, Photographer Fanny Latour

[Corrects headline] Secondhand luxury fashion has never been more appealing. In the last few years, the concept of buying ‘pre-owned' clothing has evolved, leading experts to predict that the market will see it increase its turnover from $25 billion in 2018 to $36 billion in 2021. But how should luxury brands respond to the trend?

According to a survey from the luxury resale company Vestiaire Collective and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), luxury brands should be embracing the explosion of resale.

Titled ‘Why Luxury Brands Should Celebrate the Pre-Owned Boom,' the survey highlights the benefits that businesses can reap from the burst of activity in the resale industry. According to its results, one major coup for brands is the ability to reach clients who cannot afford to buy from them directly, but may be able to in the future as their purchasing power increases. "Of those surveyed, 62% said that they bought a brand they like for the first time secondhand on Vestiaire Collective and almost all of that 62% said they would consider buying that brand again," the duo reports.

Another point highlighted by the findings was that people selling high-end fashion are often using the funds raised to re-invest in new, full-price pieces. Some 32% of participants surveyed said they were primarily selling because they wanted to purchase new firsthand goods, while 44% of sellers claimed that they purchase more expensive luxury items than they would do without the existence of a resale market.

Of course, promoting sustainability is also a major draw for brands encouraging re-sale. "The secondhand market prolongs the life of luxury products," said Olivier Abtan, Managing Director and Partner of BCG and leader of their global luxury sector worldwide. "Most of what is sold on luxury secondhand platforms is of high quality, with 62% of the clothes either unworn or hardly worn. Brands wishing to be more eco-friendly benefit from this circular luxury economy." Sustainability is a major draw for modern consumers: over 70% of respondents said they were trying to shop ethically, with 57% of those highlighting the environmental impact of fashion as their primary concern.

The findings -- which are based on a survey of over 1005 Vestiaire Collective clients conducted in October 2018, and on the basis of 12,000 respondents to a BCG x Altagamma (2019) survey -- validate the trend towards major high-end brands encouraging a more open attitude towards circular fashion. Recent examples include the luxury fashion retailer Farfetch, which partnered with the on-demand clothing donation service Thrift+ this month to allow shoppers in the UK to sell pre-loved garments, and the luxury label Burberry, which recently announced a pilot scheme with consignment retailer The RealReal.