Metroplus

Something old, something luxe

Photo: Vivek Bendre  

Isn’t that Prada in your closet a season too old? Those Jimmy Choo wedges don’t go with your personality. And you know your favourite Coach wristlet is heavy on your wrist! No wonder, for a while now, these former objects of affection have been gathering dust in the dark confines of your wardrobe. Instead of letting them sink further into oblivion, it’s perhaps time to give luxury resale portals a shot. These enterprising websites allow you to sell your high-end, second hand... oops we mean pre-loved, pre-owned, gently-used products to a clientèle that understands and values them.

Chitra Goenka, who started LabelCentric in November last year, had similar concerns. Over lunch with a bunch of friends, she realised how much they invest in such brands, but after a few seasons, don’t want to repeat them, and give them away to their staff. “We felt guilty, and that’s when I thought it would be great to have a space to sell them. It’s like an investment, as we would get some cash back. I spoke with friends and family and figured that there would be a market for it,” says Chitra. LabelCentric features only bridge-to-luxury and luxury brands. “Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Dior are the most in demand. People request a lot for monogrammed bags. They want to flaunt what they buy. They are not looking at subtle products, whereas abroad, people are moving away from monogrammed to subtle pieces,” says Chitra.

With television and social networking sites introducing people to new labels, designers and styles, there’s been a rise in the fashionista brigade. They are not all necessarily affluent. Some are HENRYs (High Earners, Not Rich Yet) and the rest are driven by aspiration. They covet the pair of Blahniks worn by Olivia Pope or Cat Grant’s Diane von Furstenburg tote. Karl Lagerfeld once grandly announced, “Luxury is the ease of a T-shirt in a very expensive dress.” Sure, if only luxury didn’t come with that kind of price tag attached to it, we would all be at work draped in delicious Dior. Owning them at a fraction of the original price is almost possible with these portals that offer a variety of pre-owned shoes, bags, clothes and accessories. It works well for both — the buyer, and the seller, who can make a quick buck and probably buy a new handbag with it.

While their buyers are essentially the younger crowd between 24 and 40, and are people who cannot buy luxury at full price, the sellers are in the age group of 35-60 and are people with 10 or more luxury bags, who are selling because they want to create space and upgrade to new products. A lady sold around 50 products on LabelCentric. These included bags, shoes, shades and belts.

But are clients all right with buying something that is a few seasons old? “The fashion-conscious ones are not the buyers but the sellers,” says Chitra and adds, “Sometimes, we have classic pieces like a Lady Dior bag that’s still available in showrooms for around Rs. 3 lakh, and a client of ours would have bought it for Rs. 1.55 lakh.”

“We have sold 300 products and are adding around 115 more in the next few weeks,” says Aneesa Dhody, who joined as partner of the brand earlier this year. There is a section for new products as well; these are what people receive as gifts, but do not want to use. In addition, there is a small collection for men as well.

With the prospect of making easy money being rather appealing, there have been cases where people have tried to pass off fake goods as original. But the team has checks in place. “We have a three-step process. I check the goods myself. We have tied up with people who work with different brands across the country, and they authenticate for us. We also get online authentication from an agency in the U.S. We send them numerous images of each product to help us verify authenticity,” says Chitra. There have also been uncomfortable situations when the seller seemed to be in shock after hearing her bag was fake. ‘But it’s a gift from my husband... How can it be fake?’ was her stunned reply.

Anandita Singh and Manisha Barnwal, who launched Envoged last April, can spot a fake from a distance. While incorrect logos are the most common mistakes and a dead giveaway, the other telltale signs are imperfect stitching, poor hardware quality, haphazard logo placement and patterns lacking symmetry.

The two classmates, who once used to exchange their stuff with each other, thought of creating a virtual closet and launched their website that had high street as well. “It’s purely luxury now, because we noticed more people getting excited about this segment,” says Anandita. They also have something called Celebrity Closet that sells clothes worn by actors. There are outfits worn by Kareena Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor in commercials. The only drawback — you have to be the same size as them. Over time their seller database increased from 50 to 500 and the number of buyers has also risen to 7,000.

Anvita Mehra, who started Confidential Couture in June 2014, got acquainted with this mode of shopping while studying in the UK in 2009. She bought a pair of Louis Vuitton sunglasses for 180 pounds (the retail price was 350 pounds) on a site named Covetique.com. After months of eyeing a Louis Vuitton bag, she finally got it at half price on Instantluxe.co.uk for 550 pounds, almost 50 per cent less than the retail price. Of course, she was delighted, and on her return, it was time to replicate the same model in India, but with a few changes. Products are sold under three categories — never been used, where it’s 25 to 35 per cent off retail price; gently used (40 to 60 per cent off retail price); and fairly used (60 to 80 per cent off retail price). The last segment is also the most popular. And it’s not just the mega cities that place orders. “We get good business from Tier 2 and 3 cities as well. Clients from Coimbatore, Jhansi, Raigarh, Raipur, Surat, Agra and Jalandhar are our regulars,” says Anvita. But the selling is dominated by Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata. The reasons for selling are many. There are the usual ones like lack of space, boredom, out of season, impulse buys that just have to go, gifts from mothers-in-law or even exes. As for the buyers... Who needs an excuse to shop?


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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 5:56:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Something-old-something-luxe/article14588896.ece

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