When it comes to fashion for the Lunar New Year, are second-hand items on your shopping list? If not, consider this: the consumption model of recycling and maximizing the value of luxury goods has officially surpassed the sales of new brand-name products in the past year in Canada. In fact, according to a survey by eBay, 15 out of 20 designer handbags purchased by Canadians in 2021 are pre-loved; and, among the top 10 most expensive handbags sold in 2021, more than half are from the pre-loved market.
Why did the pre-loved luxury goods market become so hot? Aurore Colliaux, website business lead at LXR, a top pre-loved luxury goods website, says, “As the consumer is more and more conscious about the planet and their environmental impact when making a purchase, pre-loved luxury has become the new way of owning luxury more sustainably.”
Indeed, the pre-loved market gives luxury goods new life (or multiple lives) and helps reduce the sometimes wasteful manufacturing of new products. To add to its environmental offerings, Colliaux says LXR has “also developed a rental program in Canada to offer the client the possibility of renting the trendiest pieces per season without having to buy a bag each time.”
In addition to sustainability, accessibility and pricing are also top reasons to turn one’s attention to the pre-loved market. “The pre-loved luxury world allows consumers to access vintage pieces that may not be available anymore on the primary market, and to have a more affordable entry point to own for the first time a luxury piece.” Colliaux adds that, when a new product is out of stock, customers rely on the pre-loved market to get their hands on a coveted piece. This usually creates a spike in the asking price on the secondary market due to limited inventory. But, in most cases, LXR findings show that resale value is often based on the product’s condition, brand and model.
If you are new to the pre-loved luxury goods market, Damien Verhagen, LXR’s business development manager and senior buyer, has some excellent advice: “If it is too good to be true, it probably is.” If you find an item that you have been looking for, for a long time, at a fraction of the price of what you have seen it elsewhere, be cautious.
Additionally, do your research before deciding to buy, checking who the seller is and if they are reputable and trustworthy, “Do not allow the thrill of the hunt let your guard down, especially if you buy on marketplaces where anyone can upload an item,” Verhagen says. Colliaux advises consumers find a reputable website first, understand the company’s rating system on the condition of products, and be sure to check the condition of the goods to avoid disappointment. At LXR, a professional team verifies the authenticity of all the goods, and a clear rating system is presented to shoppers, ranging from pristine to fair.
As for how to know whether it’s a “good” buy or not, Verhagen says it really depends on what you’re looking for. In most cases, pre-loved luxury goods are usually discounted between 20 per cent and 70 per cent off retail price based on condition. That said, the best deals can be found in items that might show a little more wear. But, “if you are looking for a limited-edition item that is very highly sought after, you might actually pay one-and-a-half-times or double the retail value due to scarcity and demand of the product. In this case, the good deal is you getting your hands on your holy grail!”
Makers, too, matter. He says the brands that keep their value the best are Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermès, Gucci and Goyard, while Burberry and MCM are weaker in terms of resale value.
For those who want to step into the pre-loved luxury market, Verhagen believes that classic handbags are your best bet. The most iconic bag of all time—the Chanel 2.55 Flap—is an investment that never goes out of style, or wrong. “Between 2003 and 2021, the price of a Chanel Medium Classic Flap increased by 500 per cent, compared to gold, which has increased by 400 per cent,” he says. In addition, Louis Vuitton’s monogrammed Keepall travel bag and Hermès’ Birkin are investors’ favourites.
Lastly, we wondered: since the pre-loved market is so hot right now, should consumers also consider the investment value or second-hand value when buying a brand-new handbag? Colliaux says the pre-loved luxury market is here to stay and grow in the upcoming years so there will definitely be room for reselling. Verhagen adds, “It can be hard to figure out which ones are going to become the next investment piece. Sticking with classics that only go up in value is always a safe investment when wanting to resell.”
Now that you know how hot the pre-loved luxury market is, this Lunar New Year, would you consider gifting yourself a pre-loved luxury handbag? Our heads, and our handbag fanatasies, are thinking yes! —Louisa Chan
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