How Fashion’s Sharing Economy Is Booming With a Little Help From Balmain

Vestiarie Collective is dropping its commission rates by 10 percent. Appropriately, the change starts today, April 10, meaning that all the inventory items already on the site will be reduced by 10 percent, but the sellers will still receive the original price.

The move is the first in a series of changes being instigated by new CEO Max Bittner. “This significant drop in commission will encourage more sellers to the site,” he said, while offering more accessible prices to buyers. “I believe that giving our users more direct value is the most powerful medium to keep them engaged and excited,” he added.

The decrease comes most likely in response to increased competition from a growing number of luxury resale platforms such as The Real Real and Vinted. The value of the resale industry is currently estimated at around 8 percent of the $295 billion luxury market and is predicted to double by 2022.

A Balmain spring '19 dress available to rent at Armarium's Le Bon Marche pop-up.
A Balmain spring ’19 dress available to rent at Armarium’s Le Bon Marche pop-up.
CREDIT: Jacques Burga

However, it isn’t only the luxury resale market that is experiencing a boom. Luxury online rental platform Armarium has seen an average year-on-year growth of 200 percent since its launch, said CEO Trisha Gregory. Founded in 2015 in New York, it specializes in current-season collections chosen by a roster of personal stylists like Micaela Erlanger, Erin Walsh, Christina Ehrlich, Karla Martinez and Nausheen Shah.

The growth of the sharing economy is fueled by a combination of factors, said Gregory. One is a return to minimalism inspired by Marie Kondo’s “Tidying Up” series on Netflix. “People genuinely want to own less,” she said. “They’re realizing they have closets full of clothes they never wear and pieces that don’t bring them joy.”

Another reason is an increased concern about fashion’s impact on the environment, including the lifecycle of our clothes. Rental, she described as a major solution, “allowing for less traditional consumption alongside a more versatile freedom of expression.”

Armarium pop-up at Le Bon Marche.
Armarium pop-up at Le Bon Marche.
CREDIT: Jacques Burga

At Armarium, Gregory does her bit by choosing her dry cleaning partners for their “green” credentials — namely their use of new-generation fluid, hydrocarbon, which she rates for its efficacy in addition to its more environmentally friendly properties.

The site is currently operating a monthlong physical pop-up at Paris’ Le Bon Marché until April 29. In addition to standout pieces from Alexandra Rich, Marc Jacobs, Sies Marjan (around $395 a pop to rent), there is also a spring ’19 runway capsule with Balmain. “They were very interested in collaborating on the initiative in order to reach a new client,” explained Gregory, adding that her current season rental aspect is a first for the brand.

A Marc Jacobs spring '19 dress available to rent at Armarium's Le Bon Marche pop-up.
CREDIT: Jacques Burga

Part of the grand magasin’s Le Geek Mais Chic-based initiative, the pop-up also features some stellar technology. Not least a life-size touch screen on which customers can literally twirl the model shots for 360 degree views of outfits.

This Paris-based pop-up follows a similar initiative last year at Farfetch-owned Browns Fashion in London’s South Molton Street, and going forward stay tuned for further offline experiences and more luxury brand partnerships.

A Balmain spring '19 jacket available to rent at Armarium's Le Bon Marche pop-up.
A Balmain spring ’19 jacket available to rent at Armarium’s Le Bon Marche pop-up.
CREDIT: Jacques Burga

Also in France, department store group Galeries Lafayette is trialling an interesting resale initiative in its Lyon branch. Second-hand platform, Le Good Dressing connects buyers and sellers commission-free with sellers receiving a voucher usable on both the Lafayette website and physical stores. The software has been developed by French start-up Place2Swap, a recent success story from Layfatte’s Plug & Play incubator for digital start-ups.

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