Fashion is cyclical; what goes around comes around, and all that. Yet the circular economy is a merry-go-round that some fashion followers have been slow to embrace. Still, the rise of second-hand retail sites - The RealReal, Depop, Vestiaire Collective - in the last decade mark a distinctive shift in the way people are consuming fashion at large.
Fanny Moizant, President and Co-Founder of Vestiaire Collective, has been busy spearheading that change since 2009 when she launched the online marketplace from her small Paris apartment. The idea first sprouted during the recession which resulted from the 2008 financial crash. Noticing an upsurge in the sale of the last season's goods online, Fanny set about building a platform that would open up the world's closets and provide a reputable digital space to trade and shop for luxury items.
In recent years the site has been driven by an insatiable demand for handbags - a Dior baguette was deemed the bag to, well, bag, while Gucci and Chanel ruled the worldwide roost in terms of most sought-after brands. US shoppers are consistently crushing hard on French labels and, on a global level, buyers are seeking more sustainable ways to shop. The rise of social media has also accelerated the success of the platform (as have our in-store justifications that if we buy at full price now, we can resell the said item a few months down the line and make a pretty decent return on sale).
From justifying your shopping habit to thinking more strategically about the fashion pieces you invest in, Vestiaire Collective is our go-to - and chicest - middle(wo)man when it comes to smarter buying and selling. We sat down with Moizant - a woman forever on the hunt for Phoebe's Celine - to chat procurement, perspective and profitability.
Where are you from and how has that shaped or inspired you?
I was born and raised in the south of France, where I learned about fashion under the wing of my mother, who owned a boutique. I got involved with everything from unboxing deliveries to interacting with customers and being a saleswoman. She taught me that it takes hard work and determination to run a business, that you have to inspire your team to succeed and that only you can make it happen.
Where are you based now?
For the uninitiated, what is the concept behind Vestiaire Collective?
Vestiaire Collective is a leading global resale site for desirable, pre-owned fashion. Encouraging consumers to join the circular economy, the platform stands out thanks to its carefully curated catalogue of more than a million items, each expertly checked for quality and authenticity. More than 30,000 new items are submitted by our community of sellers every week, making Vestiaire Collective a dynamic, go-to site for must-have pieces.
What initially interested you in the resale market?
It's an exciting market that is disrupting the way consumers shop while offering a more sustainable approach to fashion. I came up with the idea to launch Vestiaire Collective after noticing changes in the way that people were consuming fashion: buying more and wearing less. Amazing fashion pieces were lying unworn in people's closets, so the five other co-founders and I wanted to create a platform that would open these spectacular wardrobes. Resale gives fashion lovers the opportunity to extend the lifespan of their items while also being able to access rare or sold-out items on which they missed out.
What items are you currently eyeing up online?
I'm wearing a lot of sneakers at the moment, I love the Nike x Sacai and the Veja x Rick Owens collaborations. I'm also always on the hunt for Phoebe's Celine.
How have people's buying patterns shifted? Does that differ between countries?
There have been big shifts in the last few years. Generations who grew up with technology are pushing brands to rethink their traditional models. We see sustainability as a growing concern as people try to consume more consciously, while buyers are often thinking about items' resale values - they intend to sell after a couple of wears. Our era is defined by usage instead of possession. These shifts are quite universal.
Tell us about why you decided to open your first bricks-and-mortar store in Selfridges.
We chose to partner with Selfridges as there's a strong synergy between the two brands. Selfridges has always been a disrupter of traditional models and sets trends within the retail sector, whilst Vestiaire Collective launched with a pioneering model and continues to drive innovation in the fashion ecosystem. The UK is one of our biggest markets, too. We have a really engaged community in London so it felt like the right location to be in to help grow the business. On a personal level, I loved my time in London; the city has great energy.
The best cities for shopping are…
I have to say, I love London for shopping. There's such a mix of beautiful boutiques and markets as well as stupendous department stores such as Selfridges. I used to live near Marylebone and loved wandering around the independents and picking up cheese and bread from La Fromagerie.
Which items are top sellers in the UK? And in the US?
Our best-selling category globally is handbags, the brands and models differ slightly per market but the Chanel Timeless tends to be the most loved across the board. Last year, for the first time, Gucci became the best-selling brand on Vestiaire Collective, overtaking the other luxury houses with a huge 30 per cent year-on-year sales increase, making it one of the hot brands to invest in right now. In the US we've seen more people searching for French brands such as Rouje and Sézane which is interesting.
Tips for selling our own pre-loved luxury?
I encourage people to be as active as possible; it will help get more eyes on your items. Regularly update your listings. React quickly to a buyer inquiry. Encourage the community to follow your profile so people will see when you upload new items. Beautiful presentation and clear images also help. We also offer advice on pricing to encourage a quick sale.
How does travel inspire your work?
I feel really recharged after a trip with my family. I take that time to switch off and soak up my surroundings so that I can return to work feeling inspired and focused.
The best souvenir you've ever brought home…
An incredible feather crown from Brazil - it was made for a wedding. I bought it from a friend of my brother who was moving, and he couldn't take it with him. It's such a beautiful object.
What are your favourite hotels to visit?
My favourite would probably be Mas De La Fouque; it's near my parents' home in the South of France. The hotel is built into a tranquil reserve, where there are wild horses. There's a beach, too. I've had some of the best times there. Other favourites include the Amanbagh in India and the Amanpuri in Phuket. I went to COMO Maalifushi in the Maldives recently which was amazing - the service was incredible, the food was so fresh and we spent a lot of time diving. It was a really beautiful trip.
What are you reading at the moment? What's next on your reading list?
Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built and Powerful by Duncan Clark. I love to read books about entrepreneurs.
If there was one destination you could go back to immediately, which one would it be?
I'd have to say Fiji. I fell in love with it when I stayed at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort and did a lot of diving. It was unforgettable.
And finally, what's in your SUITCASE?
My Celine sunglasses, denim shorts and a good book, as well as Aime's "French glow" supplements and Joëlle Ciocco Paris beauty products.