2015 marked the founding of StockX and Stadium Goods, as well as the rise of other luxury resale networks such as Vestiaire Collective and TheRealReal. These websites have made inaccessible luxury items into more everyday products by selling used items at more affordable prices. In the past decade, luxury resale has risen to a rate where established stores, such as Yoox Net-a-Porter and even Urban Outfitters, have extended into the resale of everything from vintage goods to recent on-the-market items, in addition to their regular stock.
The rise of resale can be attributed to a renewed interest in sustainable clothing and circular fashion. Because fashion is one of the most polluting industries, people have taken it into their own hands to reduce carbon footprints and hyper-consumerism through buying more pieces secondhand. There has no doubt been more awareness in recent years about the sourcing of clothing and ethics behind manufacturing, as shown by many websites marking goods made with recycled materials and including factory information. However, the most sustainable and preferred choice for consumers seems to be resale with the rise in popularity of thrifting and consignment apps.
Additionally, secondhand can be a cheaper and equally as fashionable route to obtain clothing. Many fashion influencers, such as Bella Hadid, Emma Chamberlain and Travis Scott, can cite some of their favorite vintage stores as inspiration for their styles. Recent interest in archival fashion has also been renewed, shown by the revival of Jean Paul Gaultier and vintage Vivienne Westwood. Since fashion follows cycles, reviving old trends with new takes, secondhand stores can be home to timelessly fashionable pieces.
However, this is not to say that the rise in reselling in fashion can be completely attributed to increased interest in more environmentally friendly resources. Fashion resale also stands as a side hustle for many people capitalizing on buying goods at retail price and reselling for profit. In fact, many resold goods are in perfect condition, having never been worn before by the buyers themselves. And consumers have taken advantage of luxury resale and rental, a cheaper way to obtain luxury goods, as a way to demonstrate a more affluent lifestyle with an ever cycling closet of luxury goods, worn once and resold. This perpetuates an unrealistic image of affluence and consumerism to an audience that is often kept in the dark about these practices if they are not affluent enough to be participating in luxury resale and rental themselves.
While luxury resale is an imperfect system still meant for those who have extra budgets to spend on clothing in the first place, it is at least beginning to increase accessibility. Fashion as an art and collection with a specific audience is often overlooked with the primary focus on utility of clothing. For a long time, however, the image and audience to which luxury houses sell has been a demographic of white wealth. Luxury brands have operated off of their exclusivity, debuting haute couture at astronomical prices in order to affirm an imposing reputation while truly profiting off of more affordable luxury items such as sunglasses and perfume.
This top-down marketing creates an illusion of opulence for their customers to emulate while also keeping their brand largely inaccessible. It reinforces the age-old status quo that art is only for the rich to enjoy and participate in. A democratization of fashion through more affordable prices has continued this legacy of projecting opulence in some ways, but it has also begun to change the traditional demographic and the top brands within fashion, extending to more designs by minority and diverse designers. Social media and technology have democratized fashion for a larger audience.
Luxury resale is looking in the right direction of obtaining more long-lasting clothing, but can continue to perpetuate the disposability of fashion in a one-time wear and sell cycle. Fashion has taken up resale as a way to capitalize off of new markets, decreasing the sense of exclusivity often perpetuated by luxury brands and opening up to new ethical interests and demographics. Luxury resale is reimagining the look of luxury with a more diverse image of who is interested in it and who is wearing it.