LONDON, United Kingdom — Hedi Slimane’s debut collection for Celine, with its attenuated silhouette, knife-sharp tailoring, and subversive party girl frocks, was a manifesto that effectively sought to erase the decade-long tenure of his predecessor, the critical and commercial darling, Phoebe Philo. Celine’s parent company, LVMH, has big plans for the brand under its new creative director, hoping to build it into a brand with up to €3 billion in annual sales.
Some of Philo’s diehard fans, known as Philophiles, are turning their heartbreak into cash. The loss of a cult designer with a rabid fan base is a golden opportunity for the $6 billion pre-owned luxury market, especially at high-end vintage sites like The RealReal, Vestiaire Collective and broader marketplaces like eBay.
According to The RealReal, in the weekend directly following Slimane’s September 28 debut, searches for Celine increased 52 percent compared with the average for September to that point. In October, searches remain up 29 percent from the pre-show September average, a spokesperson for The RealReal said.
Prices for Celine items are up 7 percent, with certain items, especially Philo-designed clothing, spiking 30 percent.
At Vestiaire Collective, a similar story is at play, with visits to Celine listings beginning to rise in mid-August and increasing further in early September, when Slimane began releasing visual teases for his collection that all but confirmed many of Philo fans’ concerns, said Ceanne Fernandes-Wong, chief marketing officer of Vestiaire Collective.
We are finding people to be extremely loyal to her.
Between September 27th and October 2nd 2018, visits to Celine pages on Vestiaire increased by a whopping 275 percent while the number of Celine products sold increased by 43 percent compared to the same time last year.
“Popular items have been those with classic Celine aesthetic, and the 'Classic' bag has been the most popular product sold over the last month” on the entire site, Fernandes-Wong said.
At eBay, there was a 225 percent search increase on September 29 for Phoebe Philo. From October 4 through October 7 eBay saw an average of 3,900 searches for Celine, peaking on the 4th at 4,500 — a 700 percent increase compared to average search volume for Celine in 2018.
The staff at The RealReal are capitalising on this as a marketing opportunity, using newsletters and homepage promotions to highlight their selection of Philo-era Celine. The site’s stores also display a collection “in homage” to Philo’s work, said Rati Levesque, The RealReal’s chief merchant.
“We speak to Philo's work often and even more so after she announced her departure as we are finding revenue has spiked for her pieces,” Levesque said. “Customers are stocking up on the collection they can no longer get, therefore resale value has increased. … We are finding people to be extremely loyal to her.”
“I think she designed for women taking comfort into consideration,” Levesque said. “It's the way women want to dress and she intuitively understood this. Women feel good in her clothes.”