PARIS — Paris-based luxury resale site Resee has launched a Series A funding round as it gears up for expansion, with a new showroom in Paris and plans to open its first overseas outpost in the United States next year.
Buoyed by strong global demand for vintage and secondhand high-end goods in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the specialist site expects sales to double this year versus 2021, cofounder Sofia Bernardin told WWD.
“From COVID[-19] ‘til now, we’ve just seen a drastic change in the business, and no signs of that slowing down either,” she said.
While the volume of transactions is small compared to competitors like Vestiaire Collective or The RealReal, Resee’s average basket is higher than the industry average: it rose to just under 1,300 euros in the first half of 2022 from 980 euros in 2019, boosted by fast-growing categories such as handbags and fine jewelry, the latter introduced this year.
Ready to scale up their business after almost a decade of slow-and-steady growth, Bernardin, a former advertising executive at the U.S., Chinese and Japanese editions of Vogue, and her partner Sabrina Marshall, former fashion editor of Self Service magazine, closed a seed funding round in March and are now in talks with potential industry backers.
“We’re speaking with a lot of people who are very interested, so it’s really exciting, especially because the climate is so challenging right now. But the business is just doing really well and when you look at resale, it’s growing so much faster than the primary luxury market,” said Bernardin.
The global secondhand apparel market is forecast to grow by 127 percent to $218 billion by 2026, three times faster than the global apparel market overall, according to the “2022 Resale Report” by online resale platform ThredUp. It estimated the U.S. secondhand market would more than double by 2026, reaching $82 billion.
As competition heats up, Bernardin and Marshall have stepped up marketing efforts to raise the visibility of Resee, prized by fashion connoisseurs for its tight curation and slick editorial look. After a digital marketing campaign last May, sales soared by 166 percent year-on-year in June and 250 percent in July, they reported.
Following the launch of a monthly column by fashion editor and vintage collector Alexander Fury during Paris Couture Week in July, they will introduce in September a six-part video series hosted by Man Repeller founder Leandra Medine Cohen, who will delve into the closet of fashion personalities like Lynn Yeager to present items for sale on the site.
“We decided to start in New York because Leandra is based there and America is also such an important market for us,” said Bernardin. The U.S. was Resee’s largest market in the first half of 2022, accounting for 38 percent of sales, and the brand hopes to open an office in New York City in the second half of next year, to be followed by a West Coast outpost.
Overall, the duo wants to increase the number of pieces available on Resee tenfold over the next five years, from 5,000 at present. Still, they plan to maintain the exclusive approach that has allowed them to grow the site profitably since its launch in 2013 on the strength of word-of-mouth alone.
“All the other resale sites, maybe they’re under pressure, they go a lot for velocity, right? They just want to sell. They want a client to come in and buy a pair of sneakers and wear it once and resell it. And we’ve kind of had a very brick-by-brick approach,” said Bernardin.
“We want to be the Hermès of resale. We want to be all about luxury and timelessness, and not about just hitting a number to appease the shareholders,” said Bernardin.
They’re planning a road show to source more vintage treasures in markets including the U.S., Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, the U.K. and the Middle East. The events are hosted by brand ambassadors with a strong network of luxury consumers, many of whom have never sold pieces from their closets before.
“It’s kind of like those old Tupperware parties: we have these scouts that will host fabulous women to come over and share their pieces with us. Then from there, once they see the respect and the service, it’s really a luxury to have someone take your pieces, price them, nicely store them, do all the work so you don’t have to,” said Marshall.
“They gravitate toward us versus other sites, because they just know that they’re going to get the best value for their piece,” she added.
The aim is to maintain a steady pipeline of ultra-luxury items.
“We don’t want 10 million sellers on Resee who have one Chanel bag to sell, that’s not the model or the DNA. We really want to forge relationships with the sellers that we have across the world so that they feel at ease and they know that once they buy new things, when they’re ready to clean out, they know that we’re here,” said Bernardin.
Resee will inaugurate its new 3,875-square-foot showroom on Avenue Kléber, a stone’s throw from the Peninsula hotel, during the upcoming Paris Fashion Week with a pop-up in partnership with online vintage seller Old Céline Archive.
Also this fall, it’s due to unveil a partnership with a major luxury house designed to highlight the brand’s heritage. “What we’re going to be doing with this brand is working to sell their archives, but in a very modern way, in collaboration with the designs now — really the dialogue about past and present,” Bernardin said.
Marshall noted the pre-owned segment was an important gateway for brands to reach a new generation of luxury consumers.
“They’re going to feed us information from the past, but we’re also going to feed them younger clients that now buy secondhand and maybe are too afraid to walk through that door, but want to test out through the secondary market. So it’s important to us and it’s important to them that not just the current season is relevant,” she explained.