There’s a reason they call them “investment pieces.” At $22,000 for a Proenza Schouler tote or $9,000 for a Ralph Lauren dress, luxury goods are meant to last a lifetime and hold their value. That’s why the market for used designer goods is the most attractive category for online consignment.
One such marketplace, a website called The RealReal, is on track to do $100 million in sales this year. (The company takes a cut of each sale.) The RealReal recently tapped its database of 500,000 luxury goods from 500 designer brands to find which brands have the highest resale value, and which ones hold their value the longest. The startup found that Chanel, Christian Louboutin, and Hermès hold their value the longest. Tod’s and Versace lose their value the fastest.
Perhaps more surprising is which brands carry the highest and lowest resale value. Items from Givenchy, Victoria Beckham, Charlotte Olympia and Alexander McQueen all sell for much closer to their original price than goods from Marni, Alexander Wang, 3.1 Philip Lim, and Marc Jacobs.
Resale values of fashion or luxury goods can fluctuate depending on buzz around a certain designer, particularly if a fashion houses hires a a new creative director or chief executive, according to Rati Levesque, Chief Merchant at The RealReal. “When Phoebe Philo joined Céline as the creative director, it added more resale value to the brand,” she says.
But more important than buzz is availability and discounting. If a luxury brand frequently discounts its goods at outlet stores or online via flash sales, consumers will perceive that they don’t have to pay full price for that brand, says Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute, a luxury industry research group. While baby boomer shoppers tend to research something online and then buy it in the store, millennials do it the other way around. They “showroom,” the term for checking out an item in the store before finding the best deal for it online.
“These days you can find ways to arbitrage the brands, because you have so much information and the market is inefficient,” Pedraza says. “Brands have to be careful where they allow their product to be sold.”
For example: Chanel and Hermès do not hold sales in their stores and they have a limited number of outlet stores. Chanel doesn’t even sell its goods online, with the exception of beauty products. “In that sense, it creates a perception of purity,” Pedraza says.” The brands then “back it up with design quality and heritage,” he says. “If I buy something, I will think, ‘Wow it has long term investment value.’”
Below are some luxury brands that fall on both sides of the spectrum.
Brands that hold their value the best (and longest)
Chanel, Louis Vuitton (pictured), Hermès, Christian Louboutin, Cartier, David Yurman, Alaïa, Van Cleef & Arpels, Goyard.
Brands with surprisingly high resale value
Givenchy, Victoria Beckham, Charlotte Olympia, Alexander McQueen (pictured).