Fashion shopping in Hong Kong

Hong Kong pre-owned luxury and premium fashion shopping just got easier with the arrival of eBay of vintage

Vestiaire Collective, French secondhand luxury trading platform with six million members, sets up in Hong Kong following soft launch, and claims its size and reputation gives its an advantage

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 October, 2017, 7:16am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 October, 2017, 7:30pm

When online vintage fashion retailer Vestiaire Collective decided to expand to Asia, little did it know how popular it would quickly become. Co-founder Fanny Moizant puts its rapid acceptance in Hong Kong down to price-conscious buyers and the access the French company’s trading platform gives to a wide range of vintage fashion and accessories.

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Competition in the “re-commerce” space is likely to heat up now that the Paris-based operator of a global marketplace for pre-owned luxury and premium fashion is putting down permanent roots in Hong Kong.

While there are already several sites dedicated to reselling luxury goods in the city – The Hula and Guiltless are just two of the Hong Kong start-ups that have jostled for market share in recent years – Vestiaire Collective is hoping its community of more than six million members will give it a clear advantage.

Moizant, who co-founded the company with a group of friends in 2009, turned her gaze to Asia after noticing a sudden growth in buyers from the region.

“The signal for us usually comes from the community. Over the past few months we have seen organic business coming from Hong Kong without us doing any initiatives here. We soft-launched in May with a plan to separate Asia into three phases – the first being Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia, followed by Japan and Korea, and eventually China. Hong Kong is now open for buyers, but the full service including selling will be available in January,” she says.

Vestiaire Collective has been eyeing new markets since the company raised US$62 million in a round of funding back in January. One of the biggest players in the marketplace, its business model is similar to eBay in that it is customer-to-customer focused. Sellers are responsible for photographing, uploading and setting a price for their item, which is then curated by the Vestiaire team. Sold items are sent to the Vestiaire offices, where they are authenticated and examined before being delivered to buyers.

Although the process can take up to eight days, customers are rewarded with one of the biggest selections of pre-owned goods online, with over 600,000 pieces listed at any given time (4,000 new arrivals are uploaded each day).

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“Millennials are craving a different way to buy fashion. It’s interesting because there is an emotional component to shopping second-hand that you will not experience when you buy something new. It’s like a treasure hunt. There is only one piece of each item, so shoppers want to get it before it disappears. We are tapping into this impulse. That, plus the fact you are shopping smart by buying a quality item at a reduced price, means it works well together,” says Moizant.

In Asia the demand for pre-owned luxury is being driven by a younger generation which is taking its cues from European counterparts. Millennials are more accepting of online shopping for second-hand fashion than older buyers thanks to a growing trend for vintage and one-off items. (Popular brands include Hermes, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Gucci, especially iconic handbags or statement styles.)

Access to a large community is also a big advantage as “they trust the peers more than the brands”, says Moizant. “The community is critical because they feel way more engaged versus a typical e-commerce website.”

Launching in the region, however, does have its challenges. Trust and education are two key areas that Moizant plans to work on.

“In Hong Kong, going offline is very important. We need that layer of education, and it has to be done in person. People here need that connection and are still into physical shopping,” she says.

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She is collaborating with The Landmark Mandarin Oriental on curating a complimentary wardrobe of accessories for guests to use during their stay at the hotel’s newly launched Entertainment Suite. Items include a Chanel quilted handbag; a rare 1970s Christian Dior minaudière; and a highly collectible Hermès Kelly limited edition bag in Chamonix gold leather.