From resale and refurbishment to product personalization, a deep dive into the Gucci safe

Before Versace and Fendi co-operated Milan Fashion Week headlines and seemingly endless Instagram posts with their co-branded Fendace collection, Gucci started an interesting business. Called the Gucci Vault, the company takes the form of a “New Online Experimental Space”, which provides a showcase and e-commerce platform for a number of emerging designers selected by Alessandro Michele, such as Collinda Strada, Ahluwalia, Yueqi Qi, and Charles de Vilmorin, among others; shares the story of various Gucci vintage looks; and “explores the world of Meridian Autonomous Sensory Response (ASMR) through a series of sensory triggers designed to stimulate the brain and elicit physical sensations.”

At the same time, and in what is easily one of the most salient elements of the new project, the Vault platform also allows site visitors to get their hands on reconditioned and / or personalized vintage Gucci pieces. Writing for Vogue, Luke Leitch presented a compelling description of the project, stating: “The logic behind Michele’s latest venture seems powerful. The idea of ​​a luxury house offering vintage second-hand items from its history is creatively mature, responsive to sustainability, and has commercial potential. Gucci doesn’t just take control of its resale market, but by personalizing items before reselling them, it creates a new category of items that are both vintage and new.

The resale element of the project certainly brings a number of points that deserve to be discussed, notably – but not limited to: (1) the attractiveness of resale for luxury players; (2) the question of the constitution of stocks for such enterprises; and (3) the burgeoning growth of the personalization market (and the benefits that brands can derive from participating in this segment).

The attraction of resale

First of all: Project Vault is interesting, because it is Gucci’s latest effort in the resale market. Gucci, after all, was one of the relatively pioneers in luxury brands testing the waters of resale. He made the headlines like the the biggest name to partner with The RealReal (“TRR”) when the two sides announced a limited alliance in October 2020, which saw the resale giant partner with Gucci for a few months to launch a boutique in line offering second-hand Gucci items, sourced directly from Gucci, as well as TRR’s own shippers.

As TFL wrote at the time, by offering – and therefore taking over the sale of – their own pre-owned products, brands can gain an additional point of access to entry-level luxury spenders. the same way as the most accessible. , cheaper and often licensed products do. At the same time, these internal efforts or joint ventures give brands greater control over where and under what conditions their used products are sold, while also allowing them to extend the life of their valuable brands if they choose to put certain products on ice and start selling them again years later.

The Vault appears to be one more step in the direction of a larger Gucci resale effort.

Yet embracing their own resale efforts – with in-house remanufacturing – can allow brands to avoid problems with unauthorized efforts by third parties and subsequent resale of modified products without alerting consumers to those changes. . (As we have discussed at length, this has arisen as an issue in the lawsuit that Chanel brought against What Goes Round Comes Around (“WGACA”). In this ongoing lawsuit, the French fashion brand claimed that the dealer had misled using a third-party company to repair and / or refurbish Chanel products before offering them for (re) sale and allegedly failing to alert consumers to the altered condition of the bags. [was carried out by Rago Brothers Shoe & Leather Repair] … never resulted in a Chanel product [being] “If repaired, reconditioned or modified to have lost its identity as an authentic Chanel item.” “

Brands like Chanel appear to be stepping up their internal repair efforts, presumably in an effort to bolster their sustainability credentials and also potentially, to avoid issues similar to those raised in the WGACA case.

Accumulate inventory

One of the barriers that struck me as a potential barrier to the scale of third-party luxury resale efforts is supply, as the sales of luxury goods resellers depend on – and therefore potentially are. limited by – this very thing. As the TRR, for example, explicitly stated in its May 2019 S-1 file with the Securities and Exchange Commission, “the exclusive and authenticated pre-owned luxury offering drives demand,” with the dealer referring to ” fragmented supply ”as a primary problem inherent in“ existing luxury resale models ”.

Brands looking to capture the resale market are not necessarily immune to this concern, although they likely have a key advantage in that they have access to unsold inventory, an issue that has long plagued fashion brands and led to a flourishing global grayness. Marlet. Merging used products and fencing parts would certainly help brands maintain larger inventory to be offloaded into a “resale” capacity. (As TFL reported in 2018, TRR appeared to be working with brands and / or retailers to offload unsold clothing and accessories, apparently putting them in the mix in the closing space, as well as the traditional shipment.)

If brands aim to make bigger strides in the resale segment, chances are that this will also serve as a vehicle for them to sell unsold goods, especially given the looming legal mandates that prohibit the destruction of products.

At the same time, brands looking to gain more secondary market exclusivity for their products may attempt to engage in repurchases to some extent. Alexander McQueen, another brand owned by Kering, revealed that it chose this path when it announced its partnership with Vestiaire Collective as part of the French retailer’s “Brand Approved” program. In an announcement earlier this year, the UK brand and retailer claimed that “Alexander McQueen has invited long-time customers to [sell] collect the parts they no longer wear and receive store credit [to use in Alexander McQueen stores] in return. “According to Vestiaire,” These pieces will be sold by us and listed under our new label “Brand Approved”, thus ensuring the sustainability of the house’s unique know-how. “It would not be surprising if other brands engage in similar efforts, and potentially, go so far as to include language in their point-of-sale conditions that give them the possibility of repurchasing products from consumers. (More to come on this soon.)

As for Gucci, Creative Director Alessandro Michele touched on the subject of sourcing in an interview last week, telling Vogue that Gucci has “a vast network of sources for vintage Gucci, which it taps into to rebuild its archives. “.

Customizations market

Finally, the presence of personalized products in the Gucci Vault is particularly noteworthy, as it gives Gucci another intriguing offer for consumers, especially those who may already have a collection of ready-made Gucci bags, and who are at looking for more exclusive and potentially unique pieces.

Personalization is a booming market to absolutely pay attention to, with companies like MSCHF, for example, and other sneaker customizers turning otherwise mundane Nike sneakers into bullion pieces, with jaw-dropping resale prices. Meanwhile, players at the upper echelon of the luxury spectrum, such as Swiss watchmaking workshop Artisans de Genève, London-based watch customizer Titan Black and Privé Porter founder Michelle Berk, have tried their hand with success in the manufacture of already very valuable watches. and even more exclusive (and even more expensive) Hermès Birkin bags through personalization. Look no further than the arm of Cardi B, great collector of Birkin and Kelly, to see Berk’s handwork on Swarovski crystal designs.

As such, not only is resale itself a breeding ground for luxury brands, but internal efforts to provide valuable customer pools with personalized products are an opportunity both in terms of revenue generation. and customer loyalty.

Forward-thinking luxury brands, including Gucci, are likely to begin to gain a foothold in this space in an effort to continue to connect with consumers with deep pockets, who are looking for increasingly hard-to-obtain products to complement. their collections of their favorite accessories, and to stand out in a market where luxury products are more available than ever thanks to the presence of the resale giants and the rise of accessibility induced by e-commerce more generally.

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