The many luxury brands that have declined Amazon’s requests to sell on their platform are in for a surprise.
On Thursday, the e-commerce giant is unveiling its latest Amazon Luxury Store: A partnership with reseller What Goes Around Comes Around that places pre-owned and vintage bags from some of luxury’s biggest players — like Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Chanel, Prada and Gucci — on Amazon’s site.
The shop sees several hundred items available for purchase through the Luxury Stores at Amazon. Over the next two months that number will increase to an inventory exceeding 2,000 bags — as well as select small accessories and jewelry. Pre-owned Rolex watches are also now for sale on Amazon through WGACA.
The move is clever for both involved parties. It gives What Goes Around Comes Around a much-expanded client base. But it also gives Amazon the goods it has been looking to carry for years, as well as a partner that is responsible for authenticating pre-owned luxury products. One could take it as a simultaneous run at companies like LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, who have repeatedly turned Amazon down, as well as resale start-ups like The RealReal.
WGACA cofounder Seth Weisser, who started the business with partner Gerard Maione in 1993, said their partnership with the Luxury Stores at Amazon has been slowly building to this moment.
“We have had a longtime partnership with [Amazon subsidiary] Shopbop, it was one of the first accounts we began distribution with in 2009. So through that we have always been on Amazon’s radar. In late 2020, Amazon started putting some of Shopbop’s products from us onto the main Amazon platform, and then Amazon approached us earlier this year about being part of the Luxury Shops,” Weisser said.
In addition to its e-commerce site, WGACA operates two stores in New York City and one store in Los Angeles.
Amazon Fashion president Muge Erdirik Dogan said of the partnership: “We continuously expand our product offering. Our customers, especially Millennial and Gen Z customers, have been sharing their interest in vintage and pre-loved luxury. We are excited to bring Amazon’s joyful shopping experience, convenience, and fast shipping to pre-loved luxury product shopping.” In a head-spinning moment for those who have been dressing in vintage clothes for decades, Amazon’s site heralds WGACA as “The finest luxury vintage.”
Interestingly enough, the Luxury Stores at Amazon designer directory does not only list What Goes Around Comes Around as a brand to shop from. Each individual brand offered through WGACA, including Chanel Pre-Loved, Dior Pre-Loved, Fendi Pre-Loved and more also have their own landing pages — adding 10 of luxury’s most high-profile brands to Amazon’s roster of labels. The brands’ reaction has yet to be seen.
When Weisser and Maione opened, vintage shopping was still a rarity and they wanted to elevate thrifting into the luxury sphere. As that idea became more and more mainstream, the duo pivoted to selling luxury vintage and pre-owned handbags — recognizing that the category would soon become a commodity trade of its own.
Throughout, they have avoided selling product on second-party websites like Vestiaire Collective and Tradesy (which recently merged) — an anomaly among its competitors like Rebag, which often use those sites to increase visibility and client base.
This sweetened the deal for Luxury Stores at Amazon, which — for the time being — has agreed for WGACA to be the sole vendor of luxury pre-owned goods on their site.
“As opposed to other people in our market, we don’t have product on other marketplaces. One of the elements they were looking for was our reputation because the customer understands they are protected [in terms of authenticity],” Weisser said.
What Goes Around Comes Around is responsible for holding all of Amazon’s inventory and drop ships as orders come in. Currently, the site is stocking what WGACA considers “tried and true” bestsellers, like Chanel quilted bags and gold costume jewelry, Louis Vuitton monogram fare, Prada saffiano leather totes, and Hermès scarves and classic bags like Birkins and Kellys. As inventory expands, the company will introduce more specialty items, as well as high-value ready-to-wear.
When asked if WGACA is nervous about potential blowback from the brands they are selling on Amazon, Weisser said: “We have always been a distributor of brands that don’t want to be distributed.”
He added: “In fact, we provide access to Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Gucci to amazing customers. We make this kind of luxury a little more accessible and available to people that don’t have it in their own town. This is still a little bit of the Wild West, in terms of authenticity there are so many unknowns for the consumer, so we continue to put luxury and vintage on the pedestal it deserves.” Executives at WGACA do not believe there will be any legal ramifications.
When asked the same question, Dogan said: “Luxury Stores at Amazon is in regular touch with all luxury brands on various ways to collaborate with Amazon’s technology, operations, innovations and more.”
In recent years Amazon’s hunger to enter the luxury space has been among the company’s worst-kept secrets. But none of those players obliged and Amazon has since appeared to refocus on smaller, U.S.-based luxury labels, like Theophilio, Sergio Hudson and Rodarte, along with long-established ones like Oscar de la Renta.
In January 2020, LVMH head Bernard Arnault scoffed at the idea of selling on Amazon and even alleged that marketplace sites like this lead to the sale of counterfeits that fund terrorism.
“We’ve been asked several times to participate in these businesses, and I’ve always said no.…They use their database to connect customers to sellers and they take a percentage, which leads them — and we’re going to try to fight this on their site and on others — to sell counterfeit products and therefore in a certain way to be linked to organized crime, because the sites that sell counterfeit products are financed by organized crime or even by terrorism,” he said.
Arnault even lobbed at the time: “Is it normal for prestigious, highly successful global sites to make money by being associated with organized crime? I don’t know what you think, but it’s a bit shocking, so I think there is a lot to do in this domain if you want to limit the sale of counterfeit products.”
For now, though, Amazon appears to be leaving the door open for larger brands to join its platform. When asked what Amazon’s outlook is for the pre-owned luxury bag market in the next five years, Dogan said: “Our strategy is to simply offer customers more choice in how they shop.”