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What Do Luxury Shoppers Scoop Up at Resale? Hermes Scarves and Gucci Trainers

The coronavirus crisis has represented a reset for both brands and consumers. As the industry has entered a period of relative pause over the past four months, shoppers have had more time to consider their needs and spending, while retail has been challenged to think about the sustainability of its output.

On Wednesday, global luxury resale marketplace Vestiaire Collective released a new report detailing how the pandemic has impacted purchasing trends worldwide. By examining the behavior of its own members over the past six months, the company has gleaned insights into the rising popularity of resale and new consumer preferences.

Vestiaire Collective documented a ten-fold increase in interactions between members on its site during the first few weeks of lockdown, according to the report, and daily average comments on items have increased by 88 percent since the same period last year. The trend suggests users are more eager not just to shop but also to connect virtually than ever before.

The volume of product that members shipped to the platform for resale grew by 88 percent during May compared to the previous month, while 110 percent more items were ordered in May of this year than the same period of 2019.

“Not just a trend, but a complete switch in mindset, the concept of sustainability—particularly in relation to fashion, which is widely known as one of the most polluting industries in the world—is embedded into the thinking and the actions of both Gen Z and millennial consumers,” analysts wrote.

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Consumers predictably began shopping for work-from-home attire like athleisure, with Adidas seeing 71 percent growth on the site and Nike getting a 64 percent boost. But shoppers appear to be looking to fill the retail-shaped void in their hearts with investment pieces, rather than fast fashion, during the pandemic.

Vestiaire’s data indicates an uptick in interest for unexpected luxury items, analysts said. Hermes silk scarves saw a 68 percent increase in orders, perhaps tied to the trend of “Zoom dressing,” or pulling together polished, professional looks from the waist up.

Heritage luxury labels like Jean Paul Gaultier, Versace and Dior have all seen a boost in sales. Sales of Gucci’s iconic Jackie bag ballooned 32 percent, Celine’s Trio crossbody grew by 30 percent, and Fendi’s Peekaboo went up 17 percent.

Sneakers continue to be a massive sales driver, but luxury labels are winning the foot race. Gucci’s Ace sneaker sales increased by 41 percent, while sales of Balenciaga‘s Track model jumped 34 percent, and Valentino’s Rockrunner style grew in sales by 31 percent after the release of new color ways.

Sales of Balenciaga's Track model jumped 34 percent on luxury resale platform Vestiaire Collective.
Sales of Balenciaga’s Track model jumped 34 percent. Photo by Tonny Tran on Unsplash

“As the supply of new items continues to be affected by access—including delayed manufacturing, blocked supply chains, closed stores, and reduced desire for IRL shopping—our community are increasingly looking to vintage pieces to slake their shopping thirst,” analysts added. “They also have more time to research overall purchases, and because they’re buying fewer items, they’re investing more time in each one.” Notable standouts include John Galliano’s ready-to-wear collections (up 49 percent) and Balenciaga (up 186 percent).

Throughout the lockdown, brands known for their sustainability profiles have experienced a bump on the Vestiaire’s platform. U.K. luxury brand Stella McCartney, known for its animal-and-earth-friendly apparel and accessories, saw a 42 percent increase in sales since January, analysts reported. Members also began sending in more items from brands like LOQ, Marine Serre, Ulla Johnson, GmbH and Veja.

Vestiaire Collective was founded during the 2009 recession, “in part because of an increased desire to free up funds by selling pieces people were no longer wearing,” analysts said. More than a decade later, they expect the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis to be “significantly deeper and longer” than that financial crisis, increasing consumers’ drive to ditch clothes they’re not wearing and make money in the process.

“The difference in the intervening decade is that the consumer landscape has vastly changed, and crucially that people are much more comfortable shopping online,” they said. Online consignment and resale have become an undisputed norm and a fixture of the e-commerce landscape, with companies like ThredUp, Poshmark and The RealReal skyrocketing in popularity in recent seasons.

And as consumer awareness around fashion’s environmental impact grows, analysts believe shoppers will take a much more measured approach to buying than they did 11 years ago, choosing quality pieces rather than fast fashion.

“Impulsive shopping is likely to be replaced by carefully sourced items, with people reverting to purchasing more classic, well-made items that will stand the test of time style-wise, and prove to be savvy investments for the future,” they said.