Looking for sustainable and affordable luxury items? Want to be a part of the circular fashion economy? Shopping and wearing vintage items is a great way to achieve those goals. And now you can easily find vintage luxury treasures online. The RealReal and Rebag are among the many options available for online shopping for pre-owned designer fashion and accessories. Our correspondent Julie Chang Murphy profiles the best luxury consignment and resale sites right now.
the joys of shopping for consignment and resale luxury items online
Are you still searching for the one that got away? Do you never settle until you’ve made a calculated decision, weighing all the options? Maybe you’re drawn to the ones that are slightly older and distinguished with some history?
No. We’re not talking about your love life.
We’re talking about another domain in life that has been known to trigger an all-consuming obsession and sometimes, even, stalking. Folks, we are here to discuss the heady topic of online luxury consignment retail.
If you’re like me and never had the patience (or the nose) to shop at musty brick and mortar consignment stores, then online is where it’s at.
Picture authenticated high-end garments and accessories, photographed against a clean, white background looking almost brand-new at a fraction of the retail price. Making it much easier to imagine that quilted lambskin Chanel in your arms.
And you can even speculate about the life of the woman who previously owned it. Did she go through a sordid divorce? Is she a 19-year old model getting designer stuff for free that she doesn’t even appreciate? Did she die, clutching it in her arms, in her Park Avenue apartment?
Dear reader, most of the back stories are not particularly dramatic. Buyer’s remorse, weight gain and boredom are actually the usual suspects.
The Best Luxury Consignment and Resale Sites Right Now
Before I get carried away with more soap-opera scenarios, let’s get to it. Here are the best secondhand luxury websites you should be shopping on those slow Monday mornings at work. Don’t worry- we won’t tell!
1. The Real Real
Of course The Real Real is the grand doyenne of the luxury resale world. The site not only sells women’s clothing and handbags. You can also shop for luxury jewelry, watches, menswear, kids wear, home goods and fine art.
With a team of over 100 trained brand-specific authenticators, you can rest assured that the Chanel boucle jacket you are tempted to add to your cart is the real deal. The site’s extensive selection is not just limited to those familiar top luxury names. Insider cult brands and beloved labels that are now defunct are also represented at a steal. Ann Demeulemeester, Haider Ackermann, Mayle, and Zero + Maria Cornejo are all there, just to name a few.
If you’re in NYC, LA, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, San Francisco or D.C, you can also shop at one of the RealReal’s physical stores. This is not your mother’s consignment shop. In Manhattan, the Soho store is airy, beautifully lit, and more importantly – smells divine! Clothing is presented by sizing (generic XS/S to X/XL), which is definitely not the most efficient way to shop for designer clothes. But there are luxurious chaises and sofas and even a cafe downstairs, all inviting you to take your time. Hidden cabinets pull out to reveal racks of frocks that feel one of a kind. Shop assistants are genuinely helpful and excited to be part of the circular fashion economy.
It’s clear that shopping at The Real Real whether online or in-person is an experience meant to elicit one of the best parts of consignment shopping- the joy of discovery.
Warning! Rebag is dangerous for handbag obsessives. With a strict approval process, I can attest, after visiting the Soho storefront, that every bag looks pristine and like new. If you’re in NYC or LA, be sure to check out the stores. It’s serious eye candy seeing all those iconic handbags together on the shelves!
What makes Rebag different from other luxury consignment sites is that they have offer two options for buying. Recognizing that fashion lovers can be whimsical creatures, Rebag allows the customer to “have a fling” with a handbag for 6 months and then return it for a credit that is at least 70% of the purchase price. For example, pay $1645 for a Celine Phantom now and come fall, exchange it and receive a $1155 credit towards, say, a Goyard St. Jeanne. So many bags, so little time. Of course you can always buy the bag outright and keep it all to yourself, happily ever after.
3. Vestiaire Collective
For those overwhelmed with platforms like Ebay, Vestiaire Collective acts as a middle-person between the seller and buyer. On the site you will find luxury brands for women’s, men’s and children’s clothing and accessories, as well as lifestyle items encompassing home decor and sports equipment. It will authenticate the purchased item in its Paris office before releasing the money to the seller. Even better, for shoppers who love to haggle, buyers can interact with the sellers of the luxury goods, making them offers on the suggested price. It’s a more immersive and approachable experience. Returns can be more tricky though and is dependent on the status of the seller. If they are a private seller, no returns or exchanges are permitted. If they are a professional, returns are accepted within 14 days.
4. Le Prix
When I started out in fashion as an intern in NYC, I was shocked when some of the head designers traveled for shopping trips not to glamorous places like Paris or Milan, but to vintage shops in the Midwest and Florida! Turns out there can be a lot more inventory and hidden gems in those areas over the more cosmopolitan cities, which can be quite picked over. Now thanks to Le Prix, the finest and most trusted consignment stores around the country and the world are at your fingertips. It’s almost an anthropological study shopping via geographical locations. Japan boutiques turn up pages of designer handbags; Texans love their Versace; and Las Vegas is very popular for sky high Louboutins. Some boutiques even allow you to make offers on the suggested price so you can score some really great deals here.
Are you someone who has an encyclopedic knowledge of fashion history? It’s a blessing and a curse, we know. One day out of the blue, you just NEED to get your hands on some late 90s Prada chinoiserie or a pair of Celine trousers from the Phoebe Philo era. Resee was founded by two fashion veterans- Sophia Bernardin and Sabrina Marshall, who have worked for VOGUE and Self Service Magazine. Based in Paris, their platform is a highly curated catalog of “fashion moments” and each piece is selected to seamlessly work with a modern woman’s wardrobe. Try shopping by decade on their site for a fun trip down memory lane. All items are authenticated, repaired and dry cleaned before being shipped for free if you live in the US or Europe.
If you prefer to get your hands a little dirty and revel in doing the digging yourself, Poshmark is the platform for you. It operates like a cross between Ebay where you place bids on items and a social media platform where sellers and buyers follow each other, like one another’s merchandise, ask questions and leave comments. It definitely takes more work than the other sites as sellers can list any brands, in any condition. But your effort could be rewarded by scoring luxury apparel at unheard of prices.
Just remember, once you place a bid and it’s accepted, your payment method will be charged. It especially makes sense to use Poshmark if you know exactly what you’re looking for– a duplicate of a sweater that you’ve ruined or another colorway of your favorite sandals that are no longer for sale. If purchasing from individual sellers makes you understandably nervous, Poshmark offers free authentication and shipping on products over $500. Your money will not be released the seller until your purchase is inspected by their team and approved for sale.
Another peer-to-peer marketplace, Tradesy, seems to have some of the best prices in women’s luxury fashions. With over 22 categories from clothing to jewelry to wedding dresses, the site is curated in the sense that it only accepts luxury labels and high-end contemporary brands but it is more lenient in terms of their condition – which of course means better prices. That may suit some shoppers just fine as a fashionable mom with 3 young kids might not mind that there are pen marks and stains in the lining of a Gucci tote since it’s bound to happen anyway! Or a particularly crafty and creative design student may have a terrific fix for that missing button on a Burberry trench coat. Either way, the selection here is bountiful and as per industry standard, the site has authenticity guarantees for your peace of mind. Returns within 4 days can be made for a Tradesy Site Credit.
8. Bag, Borrow or Steal
What if you don’t want last season’s handbag but are craving the one in stores now? Members of Bag, Borrow or Steal go through a credit check and are then able to rent a designer handbag for a monthly fee. A classic quilted Chanel handbag which can go for over $5,000 is rentable for $500/month. Not sure if you want to pay full price to try the belt bag trend? Rent the Prada Cahier for $200/month before you commit. It’s also a fun way to try on the not-so-practical designer bags, always keeping your outfit fresh.
The site also allows you to purchase pre-loved bags at a steep discount. With clear photos and zoomed in shots of defects and clear descriptions of the bag’s condition, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. Bag, Borrow or Steal professionally cleans and refurbishes each bag as well. There are often promotions so you can very likely buy a logo tote for $600 and under. Returns are accepted with 4 days for a merchandise credit only.
The luxury resale market is more exciting and accessible than ever. In addition to earning serious bragging rights for getting a deal on that hard to find designer garment, you’re also contributing to sustainable fashion.
One last tip: try not to download all of these shopping apps on your phone at once. You could put yourself at serious risk for carpal tunnel syndrome from all that online browsing! You’ve been warned.
Have you purchased items from any of these sites? How was your experience? We’d love to hear your story.
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Crediting her training as a cultural anthropologist at Wellesley College, Julie has immersed herself in various industries in the last 15 years including fashion design, event planning, fitness and even investigating police misconduct. Julie lives in NYC where she loves trying every ramen and dumpling restaurant with her husband and three children. She finds joy in bold prints, biographies of fierce women, kickboxing and spending way too long finding the perfect polish color to express her mood.
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