In the last three months I decided to try out two different luxury resale sites to see what all the hype was about and how the experiences differed across brands. Luxury resale sites have been hard to ignore in the last few years (a $24 billion industry, might I say) and been in the retail news for things both good and bad. Good: sustainability, affordability, accessibility to luxury fashion, changing the way that consumers shop, etc. Bad: possibly paying a ridiculous price for a secondhand item because you want to pay into the hype and the company knows that, and, worst of all, receiving an inauthentic item.
I tried out The RealReal (because how could I not?) and Tradesy. I’m sure that anyone reading this has heard of The RealReal for either the news appearances or the aggressive social media advertising plan. For the second company, I was undecided between Tradesy and Vestiaire Collective.
Vestiaire Collective has been highly reputable in the luxury secondhand space and I had only heard good things about them through social media and some of my favorite and most trustowrthy podcasts. What ultimately led me to chose Tradesy was curiosity (due to their social media ads that were heavily targeted and the fact that it is a U.S.-based company that only ships within the U.S. While Vestiaire Collective does have a filter that allows you to see products that are being sold in the U.S., I could not find anything that I really wanted to buy. I also did not want to spend hundreds of dollars on something that could possibly get lost in international mail or be held up in customs for a month.
Here’s how it went down:
I ordered a Tag Heuer watch from The RealReal. I had very limited knowledge about watches going into this purchase, however, the brand and make year of the model were very sentimental to me, so I went through with it. The description of the watch said that it was working, which was important to me because I did not want to go through the process of getting a new battery. Unfortunately, I overlooked the wrist measurement, assuming that I could probably squeeze my hand into an average-sized watch. It turns out that a 4.25 in. wrist is essentially child-sized and I have very large wrists. I had to bring the watch to a Tag Heuer certified jeweler who could then order the exact links needed (that are not used on any active models) to make the watch fit. That was a crazy experience, and not a cheap one, but a story for another day. Overall, I was satisfied with this purchase. The watch was sent in a nice dust bag with authentication paperwork. I should have just looked at the wrist measurement with more certainty.
Moving on to Tradesy…this was not as great and easy as my experience with The RealReal. I ordered a Moncler jacket because I thought that it was priced incredibly fair. It was about a $150 less than any other Moncler jacket that I had seen, but the price wasn’t low enough for me to question authenticity. Tradesy has options to both sell on your own (like eBay) or to send them your items to consign with them. This jacket happened to be listed by an independent consignment boutique, which I assumed was a luxury consignment boutique.
When the jacket came, it was in a printed ziploc-type of bag that said it was made of recycled materials. I thought that was cool, but it also lacked paperwork or any kind of fanciness that you can sometimes get even when a luxury item is secondhand. At this point, I didn’t question the purchase. I was on the fence with the jacket in terms of style and fit, though. I decided to wait it out for about a week.
When you buy something on Tradesy, you can only return it for site credit. I had my eyes on another Moncler jacket at The RealReal, so I figured that I would try and consign the jacket I had with The RealReal so that the next purchase would even out or even make me some money. Wishful thinking, right?
So, I sent the jacket to The RealReal to consign with them. It got sent back quickly with a message saying that the item was made with incorrect construction. OOF. I quickly reached out to Tradesy assuming that I was screwed becuase I was now outside of the return allowance window.
Thankfully, the Tradesy team was super helpful. They first wanted pictures of the jacket to be emailed to them to be sent to “authentication experts,” who then emailed me back saying that I should mail the jacket to them with a prepaid shipping label.
In the end, Tradesy verified that the jacket was inauthentic and fully refunded me to my original form of payment, which I am extremely happy about. I am not happy that I received an inauthentic jacket from a site that guarantees authenticity. Needless to say, I will not be purchasing from Tradesy again and I went and bought a different jacket from The RealReal instead
When you buy things secondhand AND online there will probably always be a bit of a risk with the purchase. I’ve never been a huge fan of consignment and have always questioned the business model, but I do now have more trust in the consignment process for secondhand luxury. That being said, there have been plenty of issues with authenticity and The RealReal despite having the consignment and authentication measures in place.
In the end, The RealReal is the way to go for almost anything luxury, and there are plenty of other luxury resale sites dedicated more specifically to bags such as Fashionphile or shoes such as GOAT or StockX.