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Resale’s Growing Pains

According to GlobalData, the resale market will exceed $50 billion in 2023 — up from $24 billion last year. Max Bittner, CEO of the Paris-based reseller Vestiaire Collective, joins peer-to-peer platform Depop’s CEO Maria Raga in a discussion about the burgeoning resale economy moderated by BoF’s Sarah Kent.  
Maria Raga and Max Bittner speak during BoF VOICES | Source: Getty Images for The Business of Fashion
By
  • Cathaleen Chen

OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom —  Fashion resale is booming, but some of the leading platforms' practices are being called into question. The RealReal faced scrutiny over its authentication process, while a BoF investigation found widespread sexual harassment and other inappropriate messaging on Gen-Z-oriented Depop.

At VOICES, the leaders of Depop and Vestiaire Collective said they were feeling the heat, but saw plenty of promise in their industry.

"You will find the same criticism against Vestiaire... We’re not perfect,” said Max Bittner, chief executive of Vestiaire Collective, a rival of The RealReal in the luxury space, speaking from the conference stage on Thursday. "If these processes break down we see our role as a platform to step in [and] say something went wrong and we'll take care of it. We try to learn from every one of these mistakes every time it happened."

Depop CEO Maria Raga outlined the platform's safeguards.

“We’re already using machine learning to identify what messages are inappropriate and the community has the ability to report inappropriate activity,” she said. “There’s always room for things to go wrong. For us, trust, it’s a critical thing that we need to maintain on the platform and we have absolutely zero tolerance to bad behaviour… This needs to be policed. ”

When you think about the activity that's on Depop, you see super young, creative people building businesses and creating trends.

Still, resale should be celebrated for the positive values that it brings to the fashion economy, Bittner said, like sustainability and circularity.

What resellers are doing is much more impactful than other sectors in fashion, he told the audience. We're not just "trucking 40 trees into a fashion show and calling it sustainability" — a dig at Dior's runway show in Paris in September. (The show was set on a jungle-like stage. Dior worked with the Paris-based environmental design collective Coloco to replant the trees used.)

Ultimately, Raga added, resale has the opportunity to fundamentally change how the fashion industry operates.

“When you think about the activity that’s on Depop, you see super young, creative people building businesses and creating trends,” she said. They’re thinking about “what needs to be created in the first place — whether that’s through [a lens] of sustainability or these very trends.”

To learn more about VOICES, BoF's annual gathering for big thinkers, visit our VOICES website, where you can find all the details on our invitation-only global gathering.

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