Paris-based sustainable secondhand platform Vestiaire Collective earns a valuation of more than €1 billion, making it a unicorn.
Vestiaire Collective wants to change the way people shop for and think about clothes. It’s disrupting the pervasive fast fashion model with its resale platform in hopes that secondhand sustainable fashion becomes the wearable version of the Beyond Burger — indistinguishable from the alternative and way better for you and the planet.
Now, big fashion brands want in, with the platform’s latest round of funding coming from Gucci parent company, the French luxury group Kering, and US investment firm Tiger Global Management, taking the platform to a valuation of more than €1 billion. The company also raised capital from existing shareholders including Vestiaire Collective’s CEO, Max Bittner, Bpifrance, Condé Nast, and the Eurazeo Group, among others.
Vestiaire Collective — vestiaire is French for cloakroom — will use the funding to scale its resale app technology and data innovation roadmap; its aim is to extend the life of secondhand fashion and keep used textiles out of landfills as well as decrease the production of new fashion items. The funding will help to accelerate its four key sustainability pillars: triggering a change in luxury fashion; growing its community of ‘fashion activists’; becoming carbon neutral by 2026; and being an exemplary B Corp certified business.
Americans toss some 37kg of clothes per person every year; 85 percent of all textiles are thrown away and nearly 13 million tonnes go to landfills or incinerators. That number is expected to jump to 134 million tonnes per year by 2030.
Globally, fashion production is a leading producer of carbon emissions (10 percent), pollutes and dries up water sources, and uses immense amounts of pesticides and other chemicals, such as those required in tanning leather. New clothes also produce microplastics and microfibers that find their way into our waterways and the animals who mistake them for food.
Disrupting Big Fashion
Vestiarie Collective began its fashion industry disruption in 2009 with the aim of moving the industry toward a circular economy and empowering its loyal ‘fashion activists’ to bring sustainability front and center in changing how people view secondhand clothes. It’s worked thus far; the company achieved a 90 percent year-on-year membership growth last year. Although Europe-based, the company is seeing rapid growth in the U.S. and Asian markets.
“As of January 2021, local sellers in those regions had increased their items sold by more than 250% year-over-year,” Tiger Global partner Griffin Schroeder said in the release.
The platform doubled its transactions between 2019 and 2020, with more than 140,000 new listings posted to the site every week.
Vestiaire Collective is vying for the lion’s share of the resale fashion market, which it estimates to be worth more than €49 billion by 2025. The company’s €1 billion valuation speaks to the potential.
“The resale sector as a whole is experiencing rapid growth, especially amongst Millennial and Gen Z consumers, which will come to shape the retail landscape of the future,” Bittner said in a statement.
Last month, Vestiaire Collective partnered with “The Good Place” actress Jameela Jamil; it also teamed up with luxury label Alexander McQueen on a new circular fashion initiative. Under the “Brand Approved” program, McQueen buys back pieces from clients and lists them on the platform. Jamil sold items from her personal wardrobe.
“There is an urgent need to address the way we currently produce and consume fashion,” said Vestiaire Collective co-founder Fanny Moizant in a press statement. “Vestiaire Collective’s ‘Brand Approved’ programme offers a sustainable solution, reinforcing the importance of durability, whilst empowering first-hand fashion players to disrupt their linear business models and embrace circularity. We are incredibly excited to launch the new service in collaboration with the prestigious house of Alexander McQueen, driving a shared mission to embed circularity at the heart of the fashion ecosystem.”
Check out the Vestiaire Collective here.