Here’s a little fashion business news that’s hitting close to home: The vintage, consignment and resale market is booming, and the realities of 2020 only accelerated the trend. We see this on a global scale—luxury consignment site The RealReal, for example, received a record-breaking influx of merch directly from designers—many of whom avoided the topic entirely just a few years ago.
Locally, two major players launched their own luxury consignment shops in the past year: Marissa Collections, with its online-based ReVision, and Yamron Jewelers, with its glittering brick-and-mortar La Maison Yamron at Waterside Shops.
It’s easy enough to understand why designers have recently warmed up to the idea of selling secondhand. Faced with closed stores and excess inventory, consigning turned out to be a responsible way to clear out their stock and start fresh for 2021.
Local retailers follow a similar logic. While in the past, shops and its customers may have balked at the thought of dealing in pre-owned goods, moods are increasingly changing—especially now as we peer into closets stuffed with barely worn clothes and accessories. That silky gown you bought for the fundraiser circuit? Unworn, likely still with tags. The heels you loved wearing to committee meetings? Collecting dust, surely. Even before the pandemic, we tended to hold onto things we no longer needed simply because we weren’t sure what to do with them (or didn’t have time to haggle with consignment and vintage purveyors). It would be so much easier if you could just take that evening gown back to the store you found it in—say, Marissa Collections—and have them resell it to someone who’d love it anew.
But it’s not just the practicalities that appeal to fashion lovers.
The process and quality-control surrounding pre-owned fashion has also scaled up significantly. On Marissa Collections’ online shopping platform ReVision, which quietly launched last fall, you’ll find many of the same designers as are stocked in its flamingo-pink flagship: pleated Erdem skirts, flowery Oscar de la Renta dresses, metallic Alexander McQueen clutches. The team of expert buyers trade only in gently worn clothing and accessories, much of it originally purchased at the boutique. How it works is similar to any consignment shop or website: ReVision’s team assesses and authenticates your items, publishes them on their site and shares the profits with you when they’ve sold. A big difference is that while other consignment shops’ products come from all over, here it’s all happening under one roof—a tidy example of a retailer “closing the loop” and owning the full life cycle of its products.
Jay Hartington, CEO of Marissa Collections, has already seen items sell in a matter of hours through ReVision. “We’ve had such a great reaction from our clients,” he says. “We’re able to give them a higher value than if you went through a traditional consignment website, and they can turn around and spend their earnings on our new merchandise.” That it’s an inherently sustainable practice—getting more use out of our clothes, and reframing our ideas about new versus old—is simply a bonus. “There’s nothing worse than going into your closet and seeing a bunch of stuff you never wore,” Hartington adds. “Now, you can get something back for it—it’s a win-win for everyone.” Some women will shop ReVision for its eco-conscious bona fides; others will delight in scoring a designer dress for a sliver of the retail price; and some will invest in pieces they missed out on, like an early-2000s Fendi Spy Bag.
La Maison Yamron, an extension of Yamron Jewelers, has a similar approach—though with a stunning storefront dedicated to the category. Located just a few doors down from its flagship, La Maison offers exclusively vintage and pre-owned pieces. The shop’s director and boutique manager, Dominique Rodenbach-Dubuc, said the idea was born from the “incredible demand” from clients. Many are drawn to the one-of-a-kind nature of pre-owned jewelry, especially items that are no longer produced, while others come to La Maison to sell or trade their own jewels (some purchased at Yamron, some not) for a fresh alternative. From David Webb cocktail rings to Bvlgari Serpenti collars and Cartier Love bracelets, the range is broad but hypercurated, sourced with Yamron’s collectors and connoisseurs in mind. The focus is on limited-edition collectibles, one-of-a-kind designs, cult-status items and vintage pieces—some dating back to the early 1900s. “Some of these incredible high jewelry pieces aren’t in the collections anymore, but people still dream about them,” Rodenbach-Dubuc says.
Rodenbach-Dubuc has already noticed a surge of interest in watches from her male clients. “There is a really high market for pre-owned watches, and some are even more expensive than when they were new because they are so rare,” she says.
Admittedly, that has little to do with sustainability, but it’s a compelling parable for where fashion could go next, with coveted jewelry and other accessories gaining value with age and designer wardrobes extending their life cycles.
Photography by Craig Hildebrand