To be a smart shopper doesn’t simply mean buying less and buying better, you need some resale skills too. Ever wondered what’s your wardrobe’s worth? What brands to buy to literally keep your money hanging in your closet? Let’s look around.
HIGHER THAN HIGH END
Probably comes as no surprise but the best brands you can invest in are Chanel, Hermès, and Louis Vuitton. What do these brands have in common? They’re exclusively available in their own flagships, never have sales, and every single one of their products are atelier or handmade.
The Chanel Classic Medium Flap Bag is priced roughly at $4,000 brand new, but you can get your hands on a gently used one for about $2,100-$3,000. That’s about 75% of the retail price, which is equally amazing and outrageous, but considering these items survive generations of women, this is indeed a great investments.
If you’re looking for an even better deal, Chanel’s Boy Bag is selling for 86% and Hermès Birkins for 84% of their original price. According to the luxury consignment website, The RealReal’s sheet, the average resale price of Hermés silk and cashmere scarves is $497. Their 90×90 silk scarves originally retail for around $370! Louis Vuitton’s monogrammed shawls go for about $500 on the second hand market, which is a 26% markdown from their original $675 price tag.
Not just the accessories, skirts from these labels are selling for 37,5%, and dresses for 56,6% more than any other brands, although it’s not easy to come by ready-to-wear pieces from the above mentioned houses.
All fun and giggles, but what about the unicorns that sell for above their retail price? Fortunately it wasn’t Kanye West who introduced this phenomenon, although his sneakers sometimes hover around 550% of the original price.
Collector’s and limited edition pieces have their own black market. Could be Hedi Slimane pieces from his Dior Homme-era, Japanese designers, or sometimes even freebies. The transparent plastic Hermès Kelly bag that was the invite for the attendees of the 1996 spring-summer fashion show. It became such a hot property, that the house released it for sale in 1997, and today you can grab it for around $300 on eBay. Unfortunately not the original, that’s impossible to find.
Probably the weirdest in this category is the designer collaborations of H&M – if unworn, the least you should expect is 100% of the original price.
THE HOT PROPERTY
Fashion houses like Gucci, Goyard, and Valentino are living a “cool reneissance”. They released several key accessories throughout the last couple years, so their vintage pieces are also suddenly on high demand. The downside of this is the high price of the in-style items, like the Valentino Rockstud shoes. $995 for the new, and $595-$895 for the pre-owned version.
The real oldschool brands that reinvented themselves have a raging gap between the new wave and the now-vintage. YSL turned Saint Laurent with Hedi Slimane, Baguette bag turned Peek-a-boo with a fur bug at Fendi. 70’s style turned semi-Scandinavian at Celine, or Jamaican influence and logo orgies turned into sleek metallics at Dior. Meanwhile you can grab one of their 90’s handbags and garments for about $50, contemporary second hand will linger at about 70% of the retail price. The closer the design of the vintage piece is to the current shop windows, the higher the price.
Hot houses, like Chloé, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Céline, 3.1 Phillip Lim, or Proenza Schouler are usually tied to fads and fashion blogger crazes, so you might want to unload your “trendy” items, before they lose their cool. Usually the life cycle of an It-Accessory is five years tops (sell between 2-5), and only six months to one year for a clothing item.
While you have to spend around $1,500 on a used Chloe Hudson bag, you can get an “old news” Marcie for $695 that still retails for $1,395, but bloggers moved past it. Or if you’re willing to go back in time, and channel your inner Paris-era Nicole Richie, you can score a Chloe Paddington bag, that once had a blooming waiting list, for $200.
Schouler’s PS1 and PS11 bags both shrunk to a $500-$700 resale price, but the market is clogged and no one is buying, because it’s „so 2010”. It’s important to note that the condition can be a dealbreaking factor: “The average resale price of bags that originally retailed for more than $1,000 depends on the condition. ‘New with tags’: $1,611. ‘Like new’: $1,303. ‘Gently used’: $791.” The Wall Street Journal
CLASSIC FASHION HOUSES
How about the “warm” houses like Burberry, Prada, or Salvatore Ferragamo? Although they sometimes manage to release It-Pieces every couple years, their main focus is timeless classics. They never go our of style, but there are two downsides of investing into them. First, they usually appeal to older and more conservative audiences, who don’t necessarily shop online, or shop second hand at all. Secondly, an item like a Burberry trench coat, a Prada loafer, or a Ferragamo belt is such a strong wardrobe staple, that people tend to hold on to them until they are very much overused or flawed, so their value drops significantly.
The logo-crazy contemporary designer pieces, like Kenzo, Marc by Marc Jacobs (RIP), or McQ by Alexander McQueen are a good idea if you’re into that stuff, because a lot of people can’t afford them full price. Kenzo sweatshirts still fly for $80-100, with an original retail price of $195. Marc by Marc Jacobs bracelets re-sell for about $20-50, depending on style and quality.
Alternative contemporary designers are also a good investment, because there’s a whole universe of quality lovers who would rather be dead than wearing a screaming brand logo. Acne Studios, Isabel Marant, Alexander Wang, Helmut Lang, Comme Des Garcons, or Thakoon can serve you well, and will sell well. If you cop these brands on sale, you can even get years or use out of them before unloading them for the same price you bought them for.
THE AMERICAN LABELS
A goldmine in Europe and cold soup in the US: Mainstream American labels like Ralph Lauren, Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Rebecca Minkoff, or Kate Spade. In my humble opinion they’re promoting mass mentality and poor taste, but hey, they do sell very well on this side of the ocean. Tory Burch ballerina shoes will sell between $40-100 depending on wear and tear, and you can possibly sell any Michael Kors bag faster than any suburban girl could splutter her Starbucks order. Rebecca Minkoff’s bags sell only at 32% of their retail price though. Calvin Klein is a big win lately because of their successful campaigns, anything with their logo keeps it’s value well, especially basics, tees, and oddly – (unused) underwear, but there’s a bigger supply than demand, which will always be the case with fads, just look at the Daniel Wellington watches flooding second hand platforms by the hundred.
Be confident about pricing the items you put up for sale, you can always go lower if they don’t sell. This is just a tiny fragment of this complicated market, to guide you on the way to a more cost-efficent wardrobe, and a more healthy environment.
All illustrations by Lainey Molnar, 2016