Keep­ing It Real

Ves­ti­aire Col­lec­tive leads the way in on­line shop­ping for lux­ury se­cond-hand goods, and high-end watches are now tak­ing their place on the plat­form

Hong Kong Tatler - - Tatler Focus | Vestiaire Collective - For more in­for­ma­tion go to www.ves­ti­airec­ol­lec­

Aneg­a­tive stigma used to be at­tached to the con­cept of se­cond-hand when it came to clothes. Fash­ion was all about new­ness and no­body would ad­mit to wear­ing some­one else’s cast-offs. But then the vin­tage rev­o­lu­tion came along and sud­denly our op­tions for what to wear ex­panded far be­yond the cur­rent col­lec­tions.

To­day, se­cond-hand lux­ury has mor­phed into a bil­lion-dol­lar busi­ness—lit­er­ally. Pre­vi­ously owned lux­ury goods worth US$60 bil­lion were sold in the US alone in 2016. And it has a new de­scrip­tion to match its shiny sta­tus: pre-loved.

But while pre-loved clothes, shoes and hand­bags have been chang­ing hands at a rate of knots around the globe, watches were late to the party—un­til Ves­ti­aire Col­lec­tive, the fab­u­lously fash­ion­able, very French lux­ury web­site that sparked this whole rev­o­lu­tion, de­cided to bring them into the fold.

Ves­ti­aire Col­lec­tive was launched in 2009 by a group of men and women who could eas­ily have been plucked from the pages a Van­ity Fair Best Dressed list. Firm be­liev­ers in the idea that one woman’s trash is an­other’s trea­sure, they wanted to get all the un­worn Chanel, the hid­den Dior and the for­got­ten Louis Vuit­ton back into the mar­ket­place where they be­longed.

Im­pos­ing a strict no-coun­ter­feit rule, en­forc­ing heavy vet­ting for all prod­ucts, and pre­sent­ing the pieces in an el­e­gant web­site, Ves­ti­aire Col­lec­tive was an in­stant suc­cess, chang­ing the way Euro­pean women shopped over a few short years. This year Ves­ti­aire Col­lec­tive is com­ing to Asia, and bring­ing with it an un­par­al­leled col­lec­tion of mod­ern and vin­tage watches. The statis­tics are im­pres­sive. There are cur­rently 14,000 watches on­line (10,000 for women and 4,000 for men), with 1,000 new mod­els sub­mit­ted ev­ery week. Be­tween 80 and 90 per cent of the watches are me­chan­i­cal, and the ma­jor­ity are from Rolex, Cartier, Her­mès, Chanel, Omega, Aude­mars Piguet or Jaeger-lecoul­tre.

Im­pres­sive, right? But watches, un­like shoes or hand­bags, don’t have such a strong tra­di­tion of be­ing sold on­line. So how is the team at Ves­ti­aire Col­lec­tive go­ing to get peo­ple on­board?

“The on­line watch busi­ness is be­com­ing huge. It is one of our fo­cuses for this year,” says Ber­trand Tho­ral, head of menswear and watches for Ves­ti­aire Col­lec­tive. “Our main as­set is that we are the Euro­pean leader and a key world­wide player in the fash­ion re­sale busi­ness. We have cus­tomers who know and trust Ves­ti­aire Col­lec­tive and are there­fore more likely to sell their high-worth items with us.”

And while buy­ing on­line makes a lot of sense to watch lovers, as it gives in­stant ac­cess to thou­sands of time­pieces around the world, the thorny is­sue of ver­i­fi­ca­tion some­times puts peo­ple off. Which is why Ves­ti­aire Col­lec­tive is par­tic­u­larly com­mit­ted to stamp­ing out any coun­ter­feit goods that ap­pear on its site by go­ing through a strin­gent in-house ver­i­fi­ca­tion process with ev­ery time­piece.

“The au­then­ti­ca­tion of our watches is com­pleted by our watch ex­pert, Fabrice Guéroux,” says Tho­ral. “Dur­ing the on­line cu­ra­tion, we have the first level of au­then­ti­ca­tion. We can ask to have more in­for­ma­tion, pho­tos, in­voices, and we will refuse a watch if we have any doubt in terms of au­then­tic­ity. When the watch has been sold, the seller will ship the watch to our of­fices via DHL, where Fabrice will au­then­ti­cate the item and de­liver the au­then­ti­ca­tion cer­tifi­cate. We’ve seen ob­vi­ously fake pieces, and real prod­ucts but with fake mech­a­nisms, so some­times to the un­trained eye it can be hard to spot.”

With vin­tage mod­els rub­bing shoul­ders with time­pieces from the lat­est col­lec­tions, and watches cost­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars sit­ting next to em­i­nently af­ford­able op­tions, the beauty of pre-loved is that there is just so much to fall in love with.

pre-loved lux­ury From left: Ev­ery time­piece sold at Ves­ti­aire Col­lec­tive goes through a strin­gent in­house ver­i­fi­ca­tion process; the lux­ury web­site of­fers a very im­pres­sive spread of watches—ma­jor­ity of which me­chan­i­cal—from brands like Rolex, Chaumet and Cartier, to name a few

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