Vintage at Your Fingertips
The Paris-based luxury fashion platform for pre-owned pieces, Vestiaire Collective, rocketed to global success after its debut in 2009, and now it’s setting up in Hong Kong
We all daydream about stumbling on that quirky second-hand store, hidden down a cobbled street in Paris, that sells half-price Céline blouses from 2016, JW Anderson bags from last season, Balmain dresses from 1975 and Chanel jackets from 2006. While those stores do exist, they require detailed local knowledge and the luck of walking past on the very same day as your fantasy Dior dress is dropped off.
But with the glossy website Vestiaire Collective, no such luck—or traipsing around—is required. Vestiaire Collective was launched in Paris in 2009 by a coterie of the city’s most stylish women, with the aim of becoming the world leader in online second-hand designer shopping. And within months, fashion lovers from the four corners of the globe were buying and selling premium brands last seen at the Paris, Milan and New York Fashion Weeks in a trusted environment.
The site stands out from other platforms due to its knowledgeable curation team, and its authentication and quality-control process. In the space of eight years, it has become integral to the curation of every European fashionista’s wardrobe. In fact, in the years since its glamorous launch, Vestiaire Collective has become Europe’s leading trusted site for the resale of desirable premium and luxury fashion, and a cult favourite among style lovers, with more than six million members across 47 countries.
Consumers include supermodels, street style stars and magazine editors—think Cara Delevingne, Julia Restoin Roitfeld, Caroline de Maigret, Sarah Harris of British Vogue, Emma Watson and Charlotte Gainsbourg—which means you can be shoulder to shoulder with the most stylish women in the world, buying and selling your wares for half or even a quarter of the original price.
Part of the appeal is the simple interface and the uniform product shots that make shopping on Vestiaire Collective similar to other luxury high-end fashion websites. The seller can determine the sale price, supported by advice from the website’s experienced curation team, which means fantastic
bargains are available to anyone using the site.
The catalogue includes items sourced from recent collections but the real finds are the luxury vintage items that are sure to impress all avid collectors. As with luxury brands the world over, counterfeit goods can be an issue, and Vestiaire Collective works tirelessly to ensure everything sold on the website is genuine.
“Fighting the sale of counterfeit fashion online lies at the heart of the Vestiaire Collective model. Our authenticity team are all highly trained counterfeit experts who meticulously inspect each item to ensure it is genuine,” says product director Sophie Hersan.
In February 2012, in an important step against fake goods, the Vestiaire Collective signed the Fight Against Online Counterfeiting Charter established by the French government, an initiative to protect consumers from fake accessories and clothing—a move that has led to a dramatic increase in online shopping in France. Other signatories include Céline, Chanel, Christian Dior, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and Givenchy.
Building on its immense success in Europe and the US, Vestiaire Collective is now expanding its particular brand of Parisian chic to Asia and Australia. It is establishing a branch of its internationally recognised curation team in Hong Kong this year, and they will begin vetting the website on an hourly basis to ensure only the highest quality clothes, shoes and handbags make it onto Vestiaire Collective’s glossy pages.
Which means Asia’s most fashion-conscious shoppers now have a number of iconic collections at their fingertips for a fraction of the original price. So, while that hidden shop in Paris might be wonderful for an annual browse, it can’t quite compete with a website that keeps you looking like you belong on the pages of a fashion magazine for 360 days a year.