Image: Gucci

Despite living in a world dominated by fast-fashion retailers, which make runway lookalikes wildly affordable and almost instantly available, fewer and fewer millennial women are looking for fakes when it comes to luxury goods. This sentiment is apparent in the “buy less, buy better” mentality that is permeating this purchasing group, and central to a new study put forth by the Diamond Producers Association (“DPA”).

Entitled, “Real is a Diamond,” the report – which was conducted by Washington, DC-based market research firm, KRC Research, and released this summer after being commissioned by the DPA – looked to nearly 1,000 millennial women (those born between the early 1980’s and the early 2000’s) to understand their relationship with luxury goods as a whole (not just jewelry).

Among KRC’s findings: Women in this age bracket are increasingly shunning fakes for the real thing. Nearly 9 in 10 (89 percent) women in this category are looking for authenticity when buying luxury items, such as diamonds but also high-end bags and other accessories, and 85 percent said they would be embarrassed knowing that they owned a knock-off, especially when it comes to luxury goods.

Not only are millennials expressing a preference for authenticity when it comes to luxury goods, the study also found that they prefer owning fewer items in favor of better, finer ones – with 94 percent of the highest earning millennials showing a preference for one more expensive item that is genuine, instead of many cheaper ones.

“Millennial consumers, in particular, are defining luxury beyond price,” said Deborah Marquardt, Chief Marketing Officer of the DPA. “When evaluating luxury purchases, they seek items that are genuine, unique and not mass-produced, and have inherent meaning and value.”

What is Driving This?

DPA’s study is not the first to come across such findings, which can be linked, at least in part, to the accumulation of wealth of aging millennials. More importantly, though, the rise in the availability of authentic fashion and luxury goods at affordable prices – thanks to the rise in popularity of resale and consignment sites –  certainly has a hand in the changing preferences of this demographic.

Sites like Vestiaire Collective and The RealReal are steadily morphing into giant e-commerce platforms for luxury garments and accessories, thanks to their ability to democratize fashion in ways that fast fashion retailers simply have been unable to. While chains like H&M and Target have brought in big names to collaborate, the results are often ill-fitting, low quality fast fashion garments, which prove a far cry from the real thing.

This is where luxury re-sellers come in. Instead of churning out cheap luxury fashion-esque garments and accessories (aka low quality Bangladesh-made high fashion imitations a la H&M and Forever 21), these sites are offering authentic high fashion and luxury goods. Their online presence (as distinct from your local brick-and-mortar consignment shop), premium positioning and widespread availability of everything from Hermes Birkin bags to Chanel jewelry, has made these sites go-to retail destinations for the millennial set.

Due to the fact that resale sites, like TheRealReal, are offering pre-owned products on a direct-to-consumer basis, they are able to sell these goods conveniently and at more affordable prices than ever before. And with that, it seems, these sites are not only makes waves when it comes to venture capital, they are enabling a huge slew of consumers looking to build wardrobes of high-quality garments that can withstand seasons and accessories that are the real thing.