Pre-owned is the new new—from fashion to furniture to luxury watches and so much more, the secondhand resale market is exploding. The latest contender, the celeb-backed Reluxe.
The brainchild of celebrity stylist and British Vogue contributor Clare Richardson, Reluxe aims to make secondhand luxury shopping more accessible.
Richardson is taking Reluxe into a lifestyle direction, bringing celebrities, stylists, and designers on board including Amber Valletta, Bella Freud, Zinnia Kumar, and Carolyn Murphy, to level up the conversation around secondhand, according to Harper’s Bazaar.
“I love buying pre-owned clothing, but I was feeling frustrated at the lack of a luxury experience resale sites offered and being fire-housed with so much product,” Richardson told Bazaar. “I wanted the resale experience to feel as luxurious and considered as it does when buying new.”
She’s not alone in that goal. Vestiaire Collective, the French secondhand unicorn that recently earned its B Corp status, and The RealReal, as well as Poshmark, among others, have carved out luxe resale niches. Brands are getting in on the action, too; Oscar de la Renta launched its own secondhand platform, Encore, last year. Gucci has its Vault. Burberry partnered with My Wardrobe HQ in the UK to offer a curated range of vintage and pre-loved items.
Pre-owned is coming to furniture beyond high-priced vintage shops; secondhand apps like Chairish and 1stDibs, are making a dent. Luxury watches are seeing some of the biggest gains in the secondhand market with WatchBox recently raising $165 million with investors like NBA star Michael Jordan behind the platform.
Clothing vs. climate change
Resale is not just about accessing luxury items at more affordable pricing, though. When it comes to clothing, it’s a critical step in reducing the industry’s environmental impact.
New fashion production is responsible for 10 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and 20 percent of global wastewater; the industry uses more energy than the aviation and shipping sectors combined.
The industry’s impact is at the heart of proposed legislation in New York that would see leading fashion brands and retailers held to new standards of transparency and environmental commitments.
Resale is a solution to all of these issues, at least in some part. Data released last summer by secondhand platform ThredUp, found the resale industry is growing 11 times faster than traditional retail, and will outpace fast fashion, with the industry’s value expected to surpass $77 billion compared to fast fashion’s anticipated $40 billion by 2030.
For Richardson and Reluxe, the goal is also about creating an entirely new approach to resale, removing the stigma surrounding secondhand clothing, and elevating it as a means to shop more responsibly.
“From the beginning, I wanted to create a resale platform that is an edited, curated, and luxury experience, not only selling the best product, and delivering it as sustainably as possible – compostable packaging and electric bikes – but also offering a trusted editorial narrative that inspires and educates.”
With its celebrity roster, Reluxe will incorporate campaigns and photoshoots, an editorial angle, and expert-led dialogues from the high-profile network.
That angle is critical, says Richardson. “There have always been people who are dedicated vintage shoppers, and know exactly where to go, and at what time, to find the best pieces, but not everyone has that skill, or access, so it is great to be able to do that work for the customer and have it easily accessible in one site,” she says.
The new old
“There is no longer aversion to the idea of secondhand, pre-loved, vintage, or whatever you want to call it, and that is a wonderful thing,” Richardson says. “The way we shop for fashion does need to change, so I believe the idea of circular shopping will continue to grow and become second nature to most fashion lovers.”
Reluxe will feature highly desirable items in a more curated approach.
“I’ve always shopped vintage, and I lived in the States for nine years [where] we had The RealReal, [so] I’ve always been aware of buying resale,” Richardson told Vogue. “[But] I remember being up one night and [thinking] I can’t scroll through this for hours and hours to try to find what I want. There are like a thousand pairs of black trousers,” she said.
“I wanted it to be all about the edit; selling the best pieces. [But] it’s not elitist; it’s mid to high-end [pieces],” Richardson said. “I felt that was really important: it’s about the mix.”
To that end, the stylist called in favors. “I started reaching out to amazingly stylish women in the industry, and not in the industry, who want to sell their wardrobes anonymously,” she told Vogue.
Like other secondhand platforms, anyone can sell on Reluxe. There’s a concierge service in London, and virtual appointments are also an option.
“We wanted to make it as hassle-free as possible, because I myself, in some cases, have been too lazy or haven’t had time to photograph something, sell it, ship it and do all that,” Richardson told Bazaar.
“My hope is that Reluxe will genuinely celebrate a return to a slow-fashion movement,” she says. “I want it to help change our shopping behaviour, and create a guilt-free and accessible way for us all to indulge in our love of fashion, and to refresh our closets, but in a more considered and sustainable way.”