If there’s one area in fashion where investors seem to have confidence, it’s luxury fashion resale.
Since April, luxury resale companies Rebag, Fashionphile, Vestiaire Collective and The Luxury Closet have attracted more than $134 million in total investments, reflecting resale’s much brighter positioning compared to the rest of retail. The resale market is expected to grow from $7 billion this year to $36 billion by 2024, according to a June report from GlobalData.
The latest platform to get a big infusion of investor cash is Fashionphile, which announced a $38.5 million funding round led by NewSpring on Wednesday. The funding comes on the heels of a minority investment in Fashionphile by Neiman Marcus last year, before Neiman Marcus filed for bankruptcy. A representative from Fashionphile told Glossy the money will primarily be used for adding new fulfillment centers in the U.S. and internationally.
In April, Fashionphile closed all of its showrooms and began focusing more on its online and delivery capabilities. That included striking a deal with UPS allowing customers looking to sell a product to have it picked up at their door at no additional cost, essentially turning Fashionphile into an all-digital platform. Fashionphile had its biggest sales day in its history in April.
“Recommerce has been growing rapidly and has reached an acceleration point driven by consumer adoption, growth in e-commerce sales and an interest in sustainability,” said Hart Callahan, principal at Newspring. “Those broader market tailwinds, coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic and fear of an economic correction, will drive an interest in selling and buying pre-owned luxury products.”
The pandemic has spurred demand for resale for a few reasons. According to Camilla Yanushevsky, senior equity research analyst at CFRA Research, the pandemic has increased the desire for off-price luxury, thanks to consumers having reduced spending power, plus the inherent sustainability of resale is appealing to Gen Z consumers. According to ThredUp, more people have sold off older clothes during the pandemic, increasing supply and bringing in more new customers to the resale ecosystem.
In April, Vestiaire Collective brought in $63 million in funding from investors including Korelya Capital, Vaultier7 and Cuir Invest, bringing its total funding to more than $200 million since its launch in 2009. That money is also going toward international expansion, centering on the Asian market outside of China, specifically Japan and Korea, according to a company spokesperson. Vestiaire Collective saw year-over-year sales grow by 119% in June and 144% in July this year.
Huda Beauty’s investment arm Huda Beauty Investments announced on Wednesday a resale investment, funding the Dubai-based platform The Luxury Closet. The company declined to offer an exact dollar amount of the investment, but it’s large enough to make Huda one of TLC’s principal shareholders. Huda Beauty co-founder Mona Kattan will join the board of directors. TLC is one of the largest resale platforms serving the Middle East, and it also does about 30% of its business in the U.S. In the last year, the company listed more than $120 million worth of luxury products and received $18 million in funding before the Huda investment, according to the company.
Yanushevsky drew a direct line from the ongoing decline of department stores, which CFRA Research has had a negative outlook on for months, to the rise of resale platforms.
“The secondhand market has done really well during Covid-19,” Yanushevsky said. “And a lot of the big retailers have reported deep losses, which we were expecting. We’ve seen the consumers moving toward [shopping] online, off-price and directly from brands. The former two are exactly what a resale company can offer, and luxury retailers have been slower to adopt online and off-price models. We’ve seen department stores’ decline coming for a while, but resale fills some of the gap left behind.”
With department stores canceling orders from brands, a lot of that unsold inventory is now going directly from brands to resale platforms as one of the ways brands are unloading excess product.
But the secondary market relies on success in the primary market, and falloff there could be what slows the resale boom.