PARIS, Sept 30 – Interest in second-hand shopping shows no sign of waning. Booming since the beginning of the pandemic, the market for pre-loved goods now seems to be attracting the attention of designer fashion houses. After Gucci and Burberry, Balenciaga is the latest to launch its own “Re-sell” programme which promises to be doubly beneficial for customers. It offers shoppers access to more affordable luxury gear, as well as rewards in the form of credits or financial compensation.

In just two years, second-hand goods have become an integral part of consumers’ daily lives, as shoppers see them as an ecological – and economical – alternative to traditional purchases. According to a 2021 report from Thredup, the global second-hand market – then estimated to be worth US$36 billion (RM167 billion) – is expected to more than double over the next five years to US$77 billion. And, in the United States alone, no less than 33 million consumers bought second-hand clothing for the first time in 2020. These dizzying figures have not escaped the attention of the luxury industry, which is now intent on launching its own programmes.

Already present on platforms specially dedicated to the second-hand market, such as Vestiaire Collective or Collector Square, among others, luxury brands are now taking a new direction by proposing systems that allow their customers to buy or resell items from past collections. Meanwhile, with Vault, Gucci is one of the brands that has innovated in the second-hand sector, developing a platform that sees the brand itself offering vintage pieces reconditioned by artisans. Other houses, including Burberry and Stella McCartney, have partnered with specialists in the genre, such as The RealReal, to encourage customers to give a second life to their clothes.

Pre-loved luxury, a flourishing market

Now Balenciaga, one of the most popular brands in the world, especially among younger generations, is following suit with its “Re-sell” scheme, developed in collaboration with Reflaunt. This is the luxury house’s own programme, which offers consumers the opportunity to resell clothes and accessories from past seasons, and to benefit from a form of compensation – in the form of money or credit – allowing them to buy new items at (significantly) reduced prices.

Already accessible on the Balenciaga e-store, the programme is quite simple to use. All products being resold can be dropped off at a selection of participating stores or collected through a scheduled service available online, allowing sellers to receive their financial compensation or credit to be used in-store. All items for resale are then documented, authenticated and professionally photographed, and then evaluated and listed on Reflaunt’s global network. The system is currently operational in Italy, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Singapore, says the company on its website.

With this initiative, Balenciaga joins the many luxury brands that are embracing the second-hand market to reduce the whole industry’s impact on the environment, while also tapping into a market that seems to be increasingly flourishing. For consumers, it’s a way to access more affordable luxury pieces, but also to get rid of old or unworn pieces without harming the planet. – ETX Studio