Oh good, a new shopping obsession. (Note the irony: I need a new shopping obsession like I need a hole in the head!) This one, however, is rather more addictive than usual, if that’s at all possible. For the Vestiaire Collective is no ordinary shopping experience – it’s The Outnet, eBay and a fantasy wardrobe sale all rolled into one. Take nearly-new (or entirely new!) designer goods, place them on an easy-to-navigate website and allow questions, comments, wishlists and “likes”; back up purchases with a service that authenticates items and verifies that it’s a genuine Chanel bag, Louis Vuitton purse, pair of Prada shoes that you’ve bought…
Each item has been put up for sale by a real person – you or I could log on right now and list our items for sale, and I love that idea. It’s a bit like peering into other people’s wardrobes, except that you can buy what you see. You can ask questions about the item, get further measurements, register your interest… It’s kind of like eBay in a way, except that there’s no time-limit and everything is backed up by the people at Vestiaire who will make sure you’re not buying a fake. (They can spot a fake a mile off, apparently.) I haven’t yet sold anything on the site, but I am the proud owner of a new Gucci travel bag and card holder* (very old-school, all those logos!) and I can tell you that they did arrive exactly as described. (They check for “compliance” as well as authenticity, making sure that the item is in the same condition as described by the seller, so it’s unlikely you’ll be disappointed with your item.)
The only disadvantage that I can see with the system is that you can’t really return anything. (You couldn’t with eBay either, but when we’re talking of spending hundreds of pounds in one hit it becomes more of an issue.) Fine, to a certain extent, with bags; but shoes, coats, dresses? It could just be that a certain brand comes up small, or that a coat has a funny fit around the arms. If something’s unwearable, then it’s a pain that you can’t send it back. You can re-sell on the site, but it’s a bit more hassle than just filling out the returns form on an Outnet order!
That, however, is a very small gripe, because I think that for most items, if you do enough research and ask enough questions, you can really get a bargain. Yes, Chanel, Prada, Dior and Louis Vuitton bags are still hugely expensive, but if you find that little Paul & Joe coat or Gucci dress? Second-hand shopping gold! Well worth adding to your list of regularly-visited sites for when you’re looking for something unique – for the same price as a dress from Reiss, or All Saints, you can get a very, very special dress that nobody else will be wearing….
(*total price, £350, both were pretty much new.)