The RealReal’s 2021 Report Reveals Gen Z Continues To Be Powerful Driver Of Luxury Resale

The RealReal’s

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an annual luxury resale reports shed light on the motivations and behaviors of its community of more than 23 million buyers and sellers to gain a better understanding of the trends they fuel. The 2021 report is different than previous editions due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on luxury consumption.

“The luxury resale movement is experiencing record growth, with 6 million new members joining The RelReal in the past year,” said Rati Sahi Levesque, president. “Evolving Covid-19 restrictions and re-openings are significantly impacting shopping behaviors. Savvy shoppers are latching onto luxury investments, with the most dramatic growth among Gen Z and Millennials.

“Shoppers are drawing inspiration from the past in pursuit of personal expression, driving demand for streetwear’s return to its preppy roots and vintage Japanese menswear,” Levesque added. “Of all age groups, our data suggests Gen Z will be the most conscious shoppers yet.”

The RealReal said more people bought and sold in the circular economy amid The Covid-19 pandemic, with sustainability driving many consumers to embrace more conscious consumption through luxury resale.

According to the company, 45% of buyers in the past year were new to resale, 29% of made their first resale purchase in the past year, and 43% said sustainability was a deciding factor in buying resale.

Some of the most salient information in The RealReal’s luxury report is the ranking of top brands on the platform. The RealReal said demand rose for luxury’s most sought-after brands during the health crisis with competition between the elite hierarchy intensifying.

There were several upsets in the past year. Gucci widened its lead over Chanel by 24% year-over-year, while Prada closed in on another 20%. Dior knocked Hermès out of the top five and made the top of the list for the first time, propelled by 747% year-over-year growth in vintage.

Louis Vuitton ranked number one in demand in the past year over 2020, followed by Gucci, Chanel, Prada, and Dior. Gucci was the most widely-purchased and most-divested brand of the year, with purchases and consignments up 62% and 61%, respectively.

While millennials are the most dominant demographic in luxury resale, Gen X are both the number one buyers and top consignors of Gucci. Brand loyalists are layering Gucci’s pieces to complete their look, with Gucci’s bold accessories experiencing the strongest growth in sales.

Gen Z covet Gucci bags over all else, whether designed by former creative director Tom Ford or current maestro Alessandro Michele; sneakers rank number five on Gen Z’s wish list with more casual knitwear and sleeveless tops standing in for blazers and blouses with year-over-year sales increases of 59% and 39%, respectively. The report suggests that consumers have lost their taste for skinny jeans, with consignments rising 205%, which jibes with the penchant for comfort consumers acquired during the pandemic.

“The rise in high-value purchases we saw after Covid-19 began has accelerated this year, suggesting a lasting change in how luxury is viewed,” said Mayank Hajela, senior director of merchandising at The RealReal. “Younger generations have embraced newer forms of investment such as crypto and NFTs, and they’re now looking to luxury goods, which can yield significant returns even after a piece has been worn.”

The high-value brand of the year in jewelry – surprise – is unbranded, The RealReal report said. No-logo products were second only to Chanel, popularized by shoppers looking for one-of-a-kind pieces that express their personal style. The rankings: Chanel, unbranded jewelry, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Hermès. In the unbranded category, the most popular purchases were cocktail rings, link bracelets, pennant necklaces and drop earrings.

Handbags became the new smart investment in the past two years, with rising interest in vintage from Gen Z and Millennial shoppers driving up prices for the most popular vintage handbags at a rate well above more recent iterations. The Gucci Jackie, Chanel Flap bag, Louis Vuitton Speedy 30, and Hermès Constance models were among the most coveted styles. But fret not purists, Hermès Mini Kelly and Birkin 30 styles saw 162% and 157% bumps in demand, respectively.

Men’s wear has reached an inflection point with streetwear shoppers moving past chasing hyped collaborations and drops in favor of returning to streetwear’s roots. “We’re seeing streetwear shoppers latching onto the reemergence of a preppy aesthetic, reminiscent of Polo Ralph Lauren

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, Tommy Hilfiger and Nautica’s influence in the Nineties,” said Sean Conway, sneaker and streetwear expert at The RealReal. “At the same time, as skate and streetwear pioneers mature, they’re blending sports and outdoor gear into their street style.”

Tellingly, Supreme, Vetements, Yeezy and Off-White X Nike, all experienced declines of 6%, 24%, 25% and 29%, respectively, while Casablanca, was up 358%, Polo Ralph Lauren, 234%, Salomon, 188% and Stüssy, 183%.

Men also displayed a penchant for Japanese designers. “The rising international availability of Japanese brands, coupled with a significant halo effect from celebrity adoption and collaborations like Supreme X Yohji Yamamoto, is driving a surge in demand for vintage menswear by Japanese brands,” said Dominik Halàs master vintage authenticator, The RealReal.

“These designers were leaders of the movement from the Eighties to early Aughts, crafting avant-garde pieces that didn’t fit with common trends,” he added. “For many of the most desired brands, which are no longer in production, resale is the only way to acquire a piece of their work.”

Once again, self-expression rules the day.

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