There was a time when luxury brands looked at resale sites with more suspicion than anything else, as if uneasy with another entity making money off of their products. (Just look at Chanel's history of suing vintage sellers.)
But that attitude seems to be changing for many brands. On Monday, Burberry announced an official partnership with luxury secondhand site The RealReal, following in Stella McCartney's footsteps from a few years prior and further solidifying the sense that luxury brands are changing their relationship with resale.
Burberry's partnership with The RealReal hinges on a program that's meant to encourage customers to consign their old Burberry pieces with The RealReal. While Stella McCartney encouraged the same thing by offering those who consigned old Stella pieces $100 credit toward new Stella products, Burberry is taking a slightly different approach.
Customers who buy consigned Burberry products through The RealReal will be offered an "exclusive shopping experience" in one of Burberry's U.S. stores, according to a press release. Though this shopping experience won't include discounts or exclusive product, it will feature champagne and high tea and a "personal selection" of new Burberry products to shop, according to WWD.
"The RealReal shares our ambition to promote the circular economy and keep clothing in use for longer. We know that the enduring quality of Burberry pieces means their appeal and value is long-lasting," Pam Batty, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at Burberry, said in a release. "Through this new partnership we hope to not only champion a more circular future but encourage consumers to consider all the options available to them when they’re looking to refresh their wardrobes.”
The benefit to The RealReal is that customers will be incentivized to add more luxury product to the site's stock. And the benefit to Burberry is that partnering with a resale site provides some good sustainability cred — supporting secondhand is an especially smart move for a brand like Burberry that faced serious backlash for burning its own product just a few years ago. Plus, if Burberry can use these special "shopping experiences" to lure secondhand customers into Burberry stores, it may lead to those customers buying Burberry straight from the source, too.
But partnering with secondhand sellers doesn't come without risk. Just last month a report surfaced that raised serious questions about The RealReal's reliability when it comes to authenticating luxury goods. Perhaps the reselling site is also hoping that official partnerships like this one with Burberry can help bolster the site's reputation as a legitimate source for brand-name products.
"A brand as storied as Burberry embracing the circular economy demonstrates the power of resale's impact on both the luxury market and the planet," said Julie Wainwright, CEO of The RealReal. "I hope together we'll be a part of pioneering a future in which circularity is a consideration for every luxury brand."