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Vestiaire Collective: Clothes Swap

Like a hybrid of eBay and Net-a-Porter, Vestiaire Collective is giving unused designer goods a new lease of life. Co-founder Fanny Moizant tells Luxury London why recycled fashion is this year’s hottest trend

We’ve all experienced that rare feeling of joy when finding a stowaway £10 note in an old pair of jeans, but locating enough cash in your wardrobe to subsidise a pair of Jimmy Choos is surely a discovery as rare as stumbling upon a hidden treasure chest. Not according to Fanny Moizant, one of the co-founders behind Parisian designer re-sale site Vestiaire Collective, who believes our unworn items are a gold mine waiting to be tapped.

“Practicing the one in, one out strategy [with your wardrobe] is very clever because you always end up getting extra money for your fashion just by selling what you have at home,” she tells me. “There’s no point keeping your space and your wardrobe cluttered with things you don’t wear any more.”

This is the ethos behind Vestiaire Collective, a luxury online portal that allows you to upload and sell your designer cast-offs to an online community. It’s the product of six co-founders who all had the same idea at the same time. While Moizant’s business partners were interested in selling their unused clothes, her idea came from simply looking for a new way to shop, which she happened upon after reading an article about bloggers selling their unwanted clothes.

Having started out working in her mother’s clothes shop as a teenager and later for a homeware brand as an adult, Moizant jumped at the chance to combine her love for business and fashion. Her brother introduced her to one of the co-founders, and together along with four others they created the collective. 

Seven years later, Vestiaire has more than 100,000 new members every month, joining an international community of four million.

The headquarters in Paris has expanded to include offices in New York, London – where Moizant now lives – and Berlin. Three thousand new items are submitted every day, with the curation team turning away roughly 30 per cent of submissions. “The reason that we have the curation step is because at the time [that we launched] the existing reselling sites were quite a bit… how do you say? Painful,” she tells me. “There were so many things that you ended up just spending your time trawling through for great items, so from day one we wanted to have a very curated offer and inventory, and to take only the good pieces that the community was willing to buy.”

If your item makes the cut, it’s posted on the website where anybody in the world can buy it. Once purchased, the item is shipped to the site’s headquarters in Paris, where it’s taken through a quality control procedure to check size, condition and colour as well as brand authenticity. The entire process, from the moment you make your order to when it’s delivered to your door, takes roughly eight days – not bad considering those last season Manolos could be travelling through several different countries. 

Unsurprisingly, the best sellers are the big-name brands. The Hermès Birkin bag won the prize for the fastest-selling item ever when it was snapped up in a mere 17 seconds – faster than tickets to see Adele, I muse. “At the time we had a manual process to put every item online, and the person in charge had just put the bag on the website. When she checked the page she was like, ‘What? Where is the bag?’” Moizant laughs. “Then she discovered that it wasn’t a bug, but that the bag had sold out immediately!” The Chanel Boy and 2.55 bags also top the best-sellers’ list, along with Acne Pistol boots and Chloé’s Faye bag.

“The best sellers are a mix of iconic pieces that most girls dream of,” Moizant smiles.

For those looking for something specific, the One That Got Away service allows you to post your most sought-after item in the hope that Vestiaire’s online community might be able to find it for you. On Moizant’s personal wish list is a pair of Céline gold-plated brogues that she has narrowly missed out on on several occasions, but she says she still owns her first Chanel bag, which she bought through the website. “It’s a navy blue one with a pompom that I absolutely love,” she says. “I still own it and will keep it for a while.” 

When we speak, the service has been temporarily put on hold to make room for Vestiaire Collective’s annual Wardrobes for Women sale, a 12-day charity event for which famous faces like Emma Watson, Keira Knightley, Diane Kruger and Charlotte Olympia Dellal auction off their unwanted possessions to help support women survivors of war who are working to rebuild their lives. “It’s a pity when beloved clothes sit dormant in my closet, so I am thrilled to be a part of Wardrobes for Women to give these clothes a new life,” Knightley said at the time.

Among the items that went under the hammer was a gingham Derek Lam dress previously owned by Watson, Knightley’s floral Valentino bag and a polka-dot DVF blazer from Kruger. “The charity sale is something we do every single year. It is important to us to give back,” Moizant tells me. “Most of the time the charity that we pick is dedicated to women. It’s very interesting for our community to access those very rare pieces while supporting a good cause.” 

When it comes to her own style, Moizant likes to keep things simple.

“Less is more. You don’t need to do too much, you just need to have one strong piece, and the rest should be low-key,” she says.

Despite this, she admits that her style has adapted to London’s quirkier fashion sense since moving to the capital. “UK women are bolder compared to the French, who are more classic. I love those strong looks, which are very feminine I think; [British women] wear skirts and dresses more than in France. I really like that side actually. It’s had a big impact on the way I dress,” she admits. “Right now I’m really in love with Christopher Kane, and I recently bought his pleated shiny skirt that I’m wearing with a basic sweater.”

Not only has London made an impression on her wardrobe, but Moizant believes the capital has given her a more positive outlook on life, too. “There’s an energy here that unfortunately we don’t have any more in Paris,” she tells me. “The creativity; the mix of different cultures; the people, who are really open-minded and positive; it’s a really refreshing state of mind.”

While Moizant now heads up the UK office, the rest of the world is getting a slice of Vestiaire Collective’s pie, too, with new branches opening in Madrid and Milan this year, and plans for American expansion in the pipeline. It looks like global domination is the end goal, and my guess is it’ll succeed – after all, who doesn’t like a bargain?

A survey Vestiaire conducted found that five per cent of women have the resale value in mind when they buy something new. “It’s an emerging trend, and although it’s still small, it does show that there’s a shift in the behaviour and mentality of fashion lovers,” Moizant explains. “You might buy a £500 pair of shoes, but you know you’re going to get at least half or more back. You’re not spending more money; you’re just recycling the money that you’re sat on every day.”

Calculation has never been my forte, but it’s safe to say that Moizant’s is a maths lesson I am happy to get on board with.