Image: Vestiaire

Kering and American investment firm Tiger Global Management are leading a new funding round that sees secondhand marketplace Vestiaire Collective bring in $216 million in new funding, along with existing investors, including its CEO Max Bittner, Vogue’s parent company Condé Nast, and the Eurazeo Group, among others. Following “a strong year” that saw the Paris-based platform’s “transaction volume grow over 100 percent year-on-year,” Vestiaire Collective says that the new funding round gives it “unicorn status” – i.e., puts a $1 billion-plus value on the privately-held company – and “ideally positions it for its next cycle of accelerated growth.” 

In a statement released on Monday, Vestiaire Collective’s CEO Max Bittner said that the latest round of investment “confirms the incredible trajectory” of 13-year old Vestiaire Collective, and the model of the company, which he says “has clearly demonstrated its ability to continue to thrive during challenging conditions.” Speaking about the resale sector of the market in general, Bittner, who joined Vestiaire in 2019, asserted that it “is experiencing rapid growth, especially amongst Millennial and Gen Z consumers, [and] will come to shape the retail landscape of the future.” 

The news of the latest round – which brings Vestiaire’s total funding to date to $240.2 million, per Crunchbase – comes just weeks after the Fanny Moizant and Sophie Hersan-founded company announced the launch of its new “Brand Approved” program, which will see it work directly with brands to offer up pre-owned items to the consuming public. The first big name attached to the new venture? Alexander McQueen, the British brand that falls under the Kering ownership umbrella along with Gucci, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent, and Brioni, among other luxury brands. 

While Kering has not revealed whether any of its brands other than McQueen will partner with Vestiaire in the foreseeable future (they presumably will), Kering chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault revealed on Monday that “pre-owned luxury is now a real and deeply rooted trend, especially among younger customers.” Rather than ignoring the demand for pre-owned luxury goods, Pinault says that Kering is aiming to “seize this opportunity to enhance the value we offer our customers and influence the future of our industry towards more innovative and more sustainable practices, [which] fits naturally with our entrepreneurial spirit, our pioneering sustainability strategy, and our modern vision of Luxury.”

The investment from Kering, in particular, is noteworthy, as to date, most brands and luxury groups “have [failed] to capitalize on the booming resale market,” according to Luxe Digital, for fear that active participation in the pre-owned market could “cannibalize sales of new products and dilute the exclusivity of their brands.” There are certainly some exceptions, and for the most part, they come in the form of Kering-affiliated companies. Kering-owned Gucci, for instance, teamed up with resale giant The RealReal in late 2020 for a limited partnership that saw the San Francisco-based resale platform launch an online shop featuring pre-owned Gucci items, sourced directly from Gucci, as well as from its own consignors. Before that, Stella McCartney, while it was still engaged in a joint venture with Kering, partnered with The RealReal for an enduring collaboration of its own. (McCartney has since bought back the 50 percent stake owned by Kering, and revealed in July 2019 that she it was aligning with LVMH). 

In its release this week, Vestiaire stated that the pre-owned fashion sector has experienced “rapid growth over the last three years with a further acceleration during the pandemic,” predominantly driven by “younger consumers’ increased focus on sustainability and a growing trend for social shopping and online communities.” The company further noted that “the amount of secondhand pieces in people’s closets is predicted to grow from 21 percent in 2021 to 27 percent in 2023 with the value of the secondhand sector forecasted to be worth over $60 billion by 2025.” Vestiaire, itself, boasts 11 million members in 80 countries, with more than 550,000 new listings per month from 7,000 different brands (for a total number of items available on the platform amounting to 2.5 million), and an average order value of approximately €300 ($361.60).

In a research note on Monday, Bernstein analyst Luca Solca called Kering’ s investment, which gives it a 5 percent stake in Vestiaire, “a smart move, both financially and strategically” given that (1) “the pre-owned market is developing fast, and VC is the European champion in it,” (2) “a partnership with [Vestiaire] would likely provide Kering’s brands privileged access to it.”