If you're the type to troll Ebay and other secondhand clothing sites for designer steals, we've got some important news for you: Vestiaire Collective, a French marketplace for buying and selling pre-owned premium and designer clothing, is launching in the U.S. on Nov. 6. And, yes, there is quite a lot of Isabel Marant for sale on the site.
Founded in 2009, the startup took its time establishing itself locally before kicking international expansion into gear this year, launching in Germany, Italy and now Spain and the U.S. According to co-founder Fanny Moizant, the team has just been answering customer demand; after about a year and a half in business, the company started seeing inbound interest from the UK, so it opened a site there in March 2012.
To break into the U.S. market, Vestiaire has set up an office in Chelsea, where roughly 20 people are currently at work. Women's shopping habits are different from country to country, Moizant says, so having a presence on the ground to adapt the product is key. They've essentially had to rebuild their payment and shipping logistics here, too.
Although Vestiaire has made a name for itself in its home country and raised more than $30 million from investors including Condé Nast, it's dealing with quite a lot of competition stateside. There's Poshmark, The RealReal, Material Wrld, Twice... and the list goes on. There isn't a clear frontrunner in the world of secondhand fashion marketplaces -- Ebay would be it, really -- so while buyers and sellers might not have enough pre-existing loyalty not to test out Vestiaire, it's going to have to find a way to set itself apart.
Emphasizing its Parisian roots could certainly help. Vestiaire is a global marketplace, meaning U.S. shoppers can buy pieces from consigners in Europe -- and isn't poaching items from a French woman's closet basically the dream over here? (Moizant, for her part, says she's well aware of the American thirst for everything France.) In addition, everything that is sold on Vestiaire is first shipped to the company's local headquarters to inspect for quality and authenticity, which buyers of high-end designer items will no doubt appreciate.
Vestiaire is also doing some clever marketing at launch. The startup is running an auction, called StyleCycle, for which a formidable list of influencers including Cara Delevingne, Julia Restoin Roitfeld, Emannuelle Alt, Caroline de Maigret, Suki Waterhouse and Kim Kardashian have donated pieces. Pretty decent way to grab U.S. consumers' attention, we'd say.