In Shops

Luxury goods get a second life online

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In the constantly changing world of fashion, what’s new can quickly become old and get shuffled to the back of the closet and forgotten. But some styles endure forever, and that is fuelling the growth of the second-hand vintage fashion business online.

“There is a pretty famous statistic that says 70% of a woman’s wardrobe is never used, so despite the fact that there is an original owner, most of the things are brand-new and a lot of women know that,” Nejla Matam-Finn, CEO of The Fifth Collection, an online provider of world-class vintage fashion in Singapore, told Asia Focus.

Michael Finn, her husband and the site’s co­founder, said the company was trying to “re­inject the luxury into second­hand luxury”. Traditionally, the image people have of a second­hand luxury store is “not necessarily very glamorous”, but they are trying to change that.

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Trust is very important to the second­hand e­commerce business, said Mr Finn, and not only in terms of customers getting the product they expect. A growing problem is authentication and the company has taken the extra step to invest in authentication technology.

“The value proposition is very clear,” added Mr Finn. “The biggest hurdle has been cultural and I think that the global economic slowdown is actually encouraging people to look for more value and spend their money better, while environmental awareness is driving that a little bit.”

Benoit Lavaud, group digital director of Bluebell (Asia), a luxury and lifestyle brand distributor of more than 150 brands including Jimmy Choo, Davidoff, Dior and Burt’s Bees, told Asia Focus that the growth of the middle class was a big contributor to the growth of e­commerce in Southeast Asia.

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“E­commerce is linked with middle ­class growth and that’s why e­commerce in China has boomed in the past five years while the middle class in Japan is settling,” he said. “The growth, especially for fashionable products, is going to be in Southeast Asia where the middle class is evolving the most.”

Mr Lavaud said Bluebell was currently running the Asian operations of Collector Square, a France-based specialist in second-hand luxury products with annual turnover of around US$5 million. He believes second-hand vintage e-commerce does not compete directly with the luxury industry but is more of a supplemental service to meet unique customer needs.

(Source: Bangkok Post)

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