SKU’d: Are we buying Chanel from ThredUp now?

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Kaarin Vembar is obsessed with the luxury and clothing markets. She has a cheeky mouth too, so her managing editor decided to give her a column to gain insight for readers. Kaarin can be reached at [email protected].

ThredUp sells Chanel.

The recent discovery of the fashion house’s items on the resale site made my heart pause for a moment. Fashion lovers know that Chanel is in the middle of a legal battle with The RealReal over a similar scenario. Why are Chanel products on ThredUp’s website?

In 2018 Chanel filed a lawsuit in federal court against luxury consignment company The RealReal, which claims the company sells “CHANEL branded products, including handbags that are purported to be genuine but in fact counterfeit”. In a statement to Retail Dive at the time, The RealReal replied that it “clearly rejects Chanel’s claims,” ​​further stating that “Chanel’s lawsuit is nothing more than a barely disguised bullying effort to dissuade consumers from being authentic Commodities resell goods, and to prevent customers from buying those goods at discounted prices. ”

Well – a lot can happen in three years. The Chanel vs. The RealReal case is still ongoing, but the companies have reached some sort of temporary truce. In April both sides agreed to stay for three months take part in private mediations.

A selection from Chanel on ThredUp.

ThredUp

Meanwhile, resale fashion has grown exponentially. Consumers have chosen second-hand clothing to be aware of the environmental impact of their purchasing behavior. And, to be honest, a lot of people really love the thrill – a feeling that shopping for second hand clothes can convey. According to ThredUp’s own research, the resale market is expected to be reached $ 44 billion by 2029.

The company is also proving itself for its market. It has partnered with an impressive number of traditional retailers including Macy’s, Walmart, Gap and Madewell. Then, in March that Company filed for an IPO, sold Raised 12 million shares and $ 168 million.

This is a smart company with smart leadership. The company also has a comprehensive process for selecting items from sellers, according to CEO James Reinhart. In its result call this monthReinhart stated that the company carries out a “strict 12-point quality test” on its products.

The company also has an authentication process it spelled out on his website. ThredUp claims to have trained merchandisers “with years of experience in identifying genuine designer items based on counterfeit” and that two trained authenticators inspect each designer item by hand. This includes checking serial numbers, looking at logos, and checking seams and craftsmanship. In addition, merchandisers can consult other people on internal teams to “double and triple double-check that the actual deal is published on our website”.

However, my question was whether Chanel had anything to do with the authentication process.

It turns out no. A company spokesman simply stated, “Chanel is not affiliated with this website.” ThredUp did not respond to requests for comments.

I think good faith efforts are being made on many platforms to boost authentication as a second hand purchase. For example, eBay hosts face-to-face events in various US cities Authenticate elements. Last fall, the Company started a program This reviews sneakers that sold for over $ 100 in the United States. But – here’s the biggest point – they do this with a third-party independent authentication feature.

The RealReal has enthusiastic language on its verification techniques, which state that it is “the toughest authentication process on the market” and that it is the “only resale company in the world that authenticates every single item we sell”.

While ThredUp conducts authentication efforts, some decisions about communicating these realities to consumers are … confusing.

For example, sometimes the Chanel label is not displayed in product images. Which honestly asked me if I would buy the product if I couldn’t see this or other detailed photos.

Regular black skirt or Chanel?

ThredUp

Occasionally, products are labeled “faulty gemstone”. The listing is upfront of what to expect. For example, this dress shows slight signs of wear.

Example of a “flawed gemstone” Chanel dress.

ThredUp

This last example isn’t so much about authentication as it’s about brand integrity. Is Chanel okay with imperfect clothes from their fashion house on the market?

As a consumer, would I then agree to this? And the answer is – maybe. A puzzling puzzle to people who ship luxury items in person is that many stores do not pick up clothing that is too many seasons old. Just because it’s a recognized label doesn’t mean it’s accepted. (Side note: Receiving rejections in a consignment warehouse was a catalyst that Reinhart brought ThredUp to market in the first place.)

Ultimately, this means that there are designer items that are in reasonable condition and are currently gathering dust in closets because they do not meet certain criteria. A platform like ThredUp seems like a natural way to buy and ship these perfectly serviceable products.

Chanel, too, may be fighting the inevitable. Many retailers and some fashion houses are starting to see the opportunity (and additional sources of income) to have some sort of resale program. Alexander McQueen for example, Partnership with Vestiaire Collective resell his label. McQueen authenticates its own items, which are then sold in the Brand Approved section of the Vestiaire Collective platform. The brilliant part of this process is that the owner is then given credit that can be used in McQueen boutiques, ensuring that the money goes straight back to the fashion house. This type of circular economy gives the company some overview of its brand and quality control.

Chanel understandably wants control over its own brand. It remains to be seen whether fashion houses will continue to fight resale outlets to keep that control.

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