Style Points is a weekly column about how fashion intersects with the wider world.
If there was an overarching theme to this fashion season, it was that seasons themselves no longer matter. What with Prada riffing on its hit ’90s prints, Coach reissuing pieces from recent seasons—as recent as fall 2020—and even fledgling designers reimagining their less voluminous catalogs, the idea of reaching into the archives was a through-line of spring 2021.
It’s not just designers, of course—people are rifling through their own backlogs more than ever. They’re rediscovering pieces they suddenly want to wear again, as well as ones they’d like to trade in for a new model. The luxury industry, once resistant to resale, began to see it as a badge of honor. In recent years, big names like Burberry and Stella McCartney have partnered with resale giant The RealReal, while Rebag has blossomed as a destination for gently worn designer goods.
Farfetch—created to link shoppers with far-flung boutiques, from London emporium of cool Browns to Amore, the vintage Chanel wonderland in Tokyo—is one of the e-commerce forces that has helped make pre-owned goods fashionable, not to mention desirable. The site, says its Chief Commercial and Sustainability Officer Giorgio Belloli, “was built on the premise of selling existing stock in small boutiques around the world—to better match supply and demand and reduce waste.” It has been offering curated vintage and pre-owned pieces for the past decade, and is the only multi-brand site with a pre-owned section.
Its latest project, Second Life, promises to further dissolve the barrier between luxury and resale. Belloli found that “resale is an area of increasing interest for our customers,” and he notes that the pre-owned luxury market is predicted to hit $64 billion within the next five years. When designers re-introduce past styles in their collections (à la the Dior saddle bag or the Fendi baguette) Farfetch has seen increased demand for the pre-owned versions of those items.
Last year, the site began piloting the Second Life program in the UK and Europe. It allows customers to trade in their high-end bags in exchange for credit to shop new collections on the site, which mirrors the one-in, one-out approach many of us are taking with our wardrobes right now. The across-the-pond version also served as an advertisement of sorts, drawing in a number of brand-new customers, and will likely bring in more as Second Life officially launches in the U.S. today.
Fashion is undergoing a reckoning with sustainability right now, and Belloli notes that the launch is an extension of the site’s ongoing green efforts, which are gathered under the umbrella of Positively Farfetch. Last year, the site launched its Conscious Collection, along with tools to help customers shop more ethically. This year, they introduced a fashion footprint tool as well as Climate Conscious Delivery, which includes environmentally efficient packaging and the use of carbon offsets.
As customers look for more sustainable ways to shop, “the secondhand market will continue to become more relevant and a larger part of every business,” he predicts, with the life cycle of an item no longer ending the first time it’s purchased. “Brands are starting to take more responsibility and ownership of what they have already produced,” he says, “and are seeing the value in product they have already sold.” Sounds like it’s time to dig out that Balenciaga motorcycle bag from the Olsens’ NYU days.
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