Vintage is more than viable at The RealReal
With over 24 million members, The RealReal is something of a proxy for the changing habits and changing desires of luxury consumers.
Iconic ’90s designers are seeing their value skyrocket, with Gaultier, vintage Prada and Westwood earning up to $2,100 for dresses, coats and bustiers, respectively.
This marks a change from the early days of the luxury and designer resale platform. When The RealReal launched in 2011, it accepted consignment items that were no more than ten years old. It turns out that consumers also covet the most unique and rare pieces.
“We’ve been accepting vintage items for many years, but over the past two years we’ve seen a significant increase in demand for vintage among our buyers and shippers,” said Samantha McCandless, senior vice president of merchandising at The RealReal. . “We have built a team of vintage experts in our Authentication Centers who specialize in authenticating and pricing vintage pieces. We added vintage as a filter to the site in 2020 to make it easier for vintage items to appear for buyers.
McCandless attributed the trend to celebrities and influencers wearing vintage ’90s pieces. Putting the spotlight on the decade has spiked demand. For example, everyone from Jenners to rappers to TikTok stars wear John Paul Gaultier.
They’re also wearing modern pieces that nod to the past, like current designers inspired by ’90s icons like Helmut Lang and Martin Margiela, the reappearance of the Fendi Baguette in the ‘Sex and the City’ reboot ‘And Just Like That”. and Kim Kardashian’s custom Mugler outfit for the Met Gala a few years ago.
“All of this makes originals not only valuable from a fashion history perspective, but increasingly desirable to buyers looking for unique pieces,” McCandless said.
Having a shipper base that spans generations has been an advantage for The RealReal in sourcing vintage items. For example, the 90s and early years continue to see strong demand for styles such as Jean Paul Gaultier mesh tops and Louis Vuitton Multicolor clutches, which are popular among younger shoppers. Part of the supply comes from Gen X shippers, who have these original pieces, and others in their closets.
Several luxury brands are popular among all generations, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada and Chanel, while contemporary brands Rag & Bone and Tory Burch share universal appeal, regularly appearing in every demographic’s top 10 lists. Meanwhile, the top-selling brand and item for neophytes are Gucci and dresses, respectively.
While all demographics are increasingly embracing consignment this year, and cohorts agree on what to sell and what to buy first, the similarities end there. Generation Z sells items such as sneakers, belts, and Gucci handbags for the freedom to buy more of what their members want. Gen Z, which primarily sells to Gen X, is in expansion mode as the fastest growing cohort of any demographic with a 56% year-over-year increase.
Driven by sustainability, Gen Xers sell to other like-minded Gen Xers. The group sells items such as Chanel and Gucci shoulder bags and LouisVuitton top-handle handbags so its members can reinvest in their wardrobes. Millennials are selling skinny jeans from Rag & Bone, J Brand and Frame to other Millennials so they can invest in their wardrobe. This cohort is most likely to sell as a side business.
When asked if The RealReal is doing anything to make the sales process easier for shippers who are building businesses around resale, McCandless said, “The beauty of our consignment model is that we do all the work. A shipper selling as a business can earn up to three times more sales with The RealReal without having to invest time in a peer-to-peer resale site, where there can be haggling with buyers and shipping and [other administrative pain points].”
RealReal’s 2022 Resale Report offers trending insight into what’s hot right now and what’s not. After growing and declining in previous years, luxury logos are on the rise as Gen X and Millennials swap closets to sport the era’s iconic accessories. In contrast, the value of contemporary logos from the era has fallen in 2021, but demand is on the rise.
In a year of rising resale value, the most expensive Tiffany coin ever sold on The RealReal sold for over 80,000. With supply chain constraints, high-carat coins like Tiffany & Co.
The top five brands with the highest resale value gains were a diverse team, including high-value sneakers, 32% ahead; Rolex, 16%; Bottega Veneta, 15%; Chrome Hearts, 13%, and Hermès, 13%.
Not surprisingly, vintage jewelry is overtaking new trinkets as consumers seek unique pieces that enhance their self-expression. The desire for jewelry and watches with a distinctive character from past decades is so strong that it increases resale value by up to two or three times that of current collections.
For example, vintage Chanel necklaces sell for up to 697% of retail sales, vintage Rolex watches sell for up to 288% of new watches, and vintage Tiffany & Co. clip-on earrings sell for up to to 381% of retail sales.
The fact that an unbranded yellow diamond engagement ring was the highest selling item ever on The RealReal at $350,000 doesn’t bode well for overt logos.
“Over the past year, we’ve seen demand shift from on-trend jewelry and watches to one-of-a-kind, vintage pieces that are rich in character,” said Steffi Lee, editorial manager, fine jewelry and watches at The RealReal. “These pieces are a quieter, more versatile way to stand out from the crowd.”
It turns out consumers have an appetite for top-notch art with investment pieces that speak to personal style up 43%. Just as vintage fashion is all the rage, the unique art of the blue digit is gaining momentum at The RealReal. Some millennials and baby boomers are ditching ’90s and ’90s ready-to-wear and collecting art from the era.
With shortages, supply and demand are out of balance. Sold out items attract 50% more new buyers. “Whether you want it now, or not at all, the resale market is increasingly becoming the only place you can get it, spurring an increase in the resale value of coveted items such as blankets. Avalon from Hermès and the Oyster Perpetual watch from Rolex, which are chronically sold out in the primary market,” the report said.
Gen X is the cohort most invested in sustainability, but not the only one. “It’s gratifying to see sustainability become a motivating factor across every generation,” said McCandless. “Now 40% of our buyers buy luxury resale as a replacement for fast fashion.”