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Nordstrom Launches Secondhand Clothing Sales

The Seattle-based department store becomes the latest retailer to dabble in the burgeoning resale market.
Campaign imagery for See You Tomorrow | Source: Courtesy
  • Cathaleen Chen

NEW YORK, United StatesNordstrom is planning to sell secondhand luxury clothes online and at its New York flagship, becoming the latest traditional retailer to experiment with the fast-growing resale market.

Opening January 31, Nordstrom's "See You Tomorrow" store will offer shoppers secondhand pieces from brands like Burberry, Thom Browne, Isabel Marant, Off-White and Adidas. The resale service, which is slated for a six-month run but could be extended, will also accept pre-owned products from customers to sell in exchange for Nordstrom gift cards.

The shop-in-shop thrusts Nordstrom into competition with The RealReal, Vestiaire Collective and other players in the fast-growing market for secondhand fashion, which grew to $28 billion last year, according to a study by ThredUp and GlobalData. The department store chain Neiman Marcus acquired Fashionphile, a luxury consignment website, in April, and Macy's installed racks of ThredUp's used clothes and accessories in some stores last summer.

Luxury brands have been slow to engage directly with resale sites and shops, fearing they will cannibalise sales and make it easier for counterfeit goods to reach consumers. However, a few have begun to work with the secondhand market, including Burberry, which launched a partnership with The RealReal in October.

Many of the brands that Nordstrom carries were interested in testing out the resale concept, said Olivia Kim, vice president of creative projects at the Seattle-based chain.

“So many Americans are already engaged with recommerce, whether it’s rental or retail,” Kim said.

The items in the "See You Tomorrow" shop will be sourced from Nordstrom’s own inventory of returned and damaged merchandise (the Seattle-based retailer is famous for its generous return policy). Yerdle, which handles resale for Patagonia, Eileen Fisher and other brands, will handle the pricing, fulfilment, cleaning and processing of Nordstrom’s secondhand products.

Nordstrom’s resale experiment is only the latest effort by the company to breathe new life into the department store model. The “pop-in” series, for instance, showcases brands in a designated space, both in stores and online. Select Nordstrom stores now have permanent shop-in-shops earmarked for collaborations with partners like Nike, Burberry and Celine.

However, after sales rose in 2018, Nordstrom has seen uneven progress in recent quarters. Multi-brand retailers are suffering as a group, as consumers can find many of the same products online, and brands drive more sales through their own websites and stores.

“The curated shop experience is becoming quite ubiquitous with retail because the world has become quite small and everybody has access to the same stuff,” Kim said. “So the question is, what are things you can do that show a point-of-view to your customers that’s different?”

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