Last week, the high-end French reseller Vestiaire Collective moved to consolidate its share of the industry by acquiring one of its many American rivals in Tradesy. And, while this may sound like standard trade talk, it’s worth mentioning because of the possible knock-on effects this may have on the resale industry at large.
Some of which, naturally, are good. Others, not so much.
Having further established itself as a major player in the market after receiving $216 million USD in funding back in 2021, Vestiaire also became the first certified B Corp in the resale industry. While that doesn’t exactly make the platform a charitable organization, it does put VC’s actions under the microscope a little more when it comes to responsibility.
Essentially, it means that what they say and what they do have to match up. Which, at least in fashion, is much rarer than you’d think. Or like to think, anyway.
In this sense, while picking up Tradesy might seem like an inherently hostile move – as it does whenever one company swallows another whole – the acquisition does align with Vestiaire’s more philanthropic position on issues like sustainability within resale.
Of course, resale is already seen as the more sustainable option compared with buying new. And, in terms of quelling supply and demand and limiting wastage, that’s definitely true. But it still has its problems – particularly at the high end, where professional authentication often means a whole other leg of travel for items to go through. An extra journey that, necessarily, means more fuel consumption in transit and energy expended powering those centers on a day-to-day basis.
A big part of the Tradesy deal, then, focuses on the merging of authentication centers – a move that means buyers in the US won’t have to see their goods shipped abroad by less-than-sustainable means before being returned to the country and handed over, and something that has been a focus of Vestiaire for some time now, leading to the recent creation of VaultNFTs. (Albeit a move somewhat stymied by Nike’s legal objections.)
All of which feels like good news – both in terms of the direct effect on Vestiaire customers and in terms of the knock-on effect a decision like this can make in setting the overall tone.
But, of course, there are negatives.
Naturally, any business move like this means a dilution of choice for sellers. Consolidation of the marketplace means fewer stalls on which to sell your wares. On the one hand, you can read this as a simplification of the process – a streamlining of the logistics of reselling. Which seems good.
On the other hand, it means less competition between platforms – which means less incentive for those platforms to offer competitive fees and terms to their sellers. Where else, after all, are they going to go?
Still, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. What effect this acquisition will end up having in either the long or short term remains to be seen. But, if Vestiaire Collective’s intentions are to be trusted – and, at the very least, B Corp. scrutiny should mean that’s true to some extent – the possibilities for progress do seem to outweigh the negatives.