On the Radar Vestiaire Collective
19th March 2012

Vestiaire Collective

AUTHOR The Milk Maid
Already a cult community in France, Vestiaire Collective, has just crossed the channel to share their cunning peer to peer retail concept and their preloved designer wears on our shore.

I took a trip to their head office in Paris, a small but immaculate loft in the smart Parisian suburb of Neuilly. On arrival I was greeted by rails of the finest fashion and a wall of designer shoes; the ultimate walk in wardrobe, manned by a gathering of effortlessly chic Parisians - how do they manage that unfaltering look of "je ne said quoi"?



Sighted as a competitor of Ebay, the two actually draw very few parallels. Firstly, Vestiaire Collective is dedicated to high quality fashion and luxury labels only. Secondly, the items sold on the site are carefully curated, only pieces from recent seasons or vintage items deemed 'on trend' - despite receiving up to 1,000 submissions each day, only around half ever make the edit. Thirdly, there is no bidding - a fixed price (around 30-70% of the original retail value) is negotiated between Vestiaire Collective and the seller based on the demand, availability, relevance and quality of the item suggested for sale. And finally, the crucial difference, Vestiaire Collective work tirelessly to eradicate counterfeit goods, banishing the questionable authenticity of products bought on Ebay. An experienced team process everything to ensure only genuine items of an exceptional standard are sold via their platform, with extensive training and support from many of the labels they sell, including Chanel, a replica will be spotted almost intuitively.

The process begins with the seller submitting their piece; photo's, a thorough description and an asking price. These are then checked against an encyclopaedic knowledge of designer labels and past collections. Each member of this team have an allocated speciality, be it traditional luxury brands; Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent or the newer designer labels; Sandro, Maje, Isabelle Marrant...and so the list continues.


Here one of the team considers a Balenciaga bag as part of the initial submission.

Sadly all the amazing clothes and accessories I spied at HQ were already sold - it is only once an item is bought that it makes its way via free post or collected by courier from the seller to the team at Vestiaire Collective for hands on quality and authenticity checks. If a piece is deemed a fake the transaction is immediately cancelled and the item returned to the owner.

Left: Some of the tools used to check accessories.
Right: An Hermes Birkin, sold for €6,000 in only 15 seconds, barely used and complete with dust bag and original box. This piece has been certified genuine, ready to be wrapped and sent to the buyer.

And so you see, Ebay this is not. Vestiaire Collective is a meticulously edited selection of the most desirable clothes at a discounted price. I've compiled a mental shopping list that includes an embroidered Balmain military jacket, a pair of stacked Miu Miu wedges, high waisted leather shorts from Carven and a monogrammed Goyard tote, each costing just a fraction of the original price.

With a focus on adding value and life to original investment buys rather than fast throwaway away fashion, the concept truly adheres to the old adage, one mans junk is another mans treasure.