Resale companies put a lot of work into making sure the items they sell are authentic and in good condition. But a new trend is emerging in the resale market that’s making the second part less of a necessity: selling items that are dented, worn and beaten up. In other words, clothes and accessories that look like they have a history.
According to the luxury resale company Vestiaire Collective, its sales of items in “good” or “fair” condition are up 13% globally in the last six months. “Good” and “fair” are Vestiaire Collective’s lowest-quality categories. According to the website, items in these categories may include frayed edges, snags, stains, loose threads or discoloration. In addition, over the last year, there’s been a 12% total increase in Vestiaire Collective listings in the “good” and “fair” categories.
Meanwhile, Rimowa, the LVMH-owned luggage brand that offers a lifetime guarantee on its items, has started to sell used and worn items, selling under a Re-Crafted banner and at a reduced price. The average Re-Crafted Rimowa piece is around $584, compared to its lowest-priced new luggage at $1,425. The RealReal noted this trend in its most recent insights report, released in January. The report revealed that fair-condition items were 33% more affordable than higher-condition items, and that demand for those items had doubled in the prior year.
“A potential recession, the climate crisis and global unrest are all reasons that, going into 2023, consumers are making shopping decisions based on value — with 66% saying they shop resale primarily to get a good deal — as well as personal values,” The RealReal’s co-CEO Rati Sahi Levesque wrote in the report. “We’re seeing our members do this in many different ways, from trading down ultra-luxe bags for more accessible options to buying fair condition items.”
The report further characterizes these beat-up bags as a kind of gateway drug into a high-end luxury brand. Luxury resale platforms have, for years, pitched themselves as a way for new luxury buyers to ease into a brand like Chanel or Hermès without the full-price commitment before purchasing new bags from the brand in the future. Fair-condition bags are now an even lower barrier to entry for those customers looking to try their first Birkin.
According to Meghana Dhar, an investor and advisor to retail tech companies, the idea that bags with visible signs of wear aren’t just OK but actually desirable is being driven by younger generations of shoppers. These buyers don’t have any stigma around toting a well-worn bag. In fact, the bag’s pedigree and the history in every crease is a selling point. And it doesn’t hurt that all things grungy are back in style.
“It’s very noticeable when something is completely beaten up, but it’s such a vibe because it’s a classic piece and everyone knows it has this inherent, kind of historical significance,” Dhar said, referring to a beat-up Birkin bag carried by Mary-Kate Olsen. “Gen Z are really into that kind of high-low style — not necessarily big logos but this classic element of the fashion itself and the inherent value of the brand.”