One startup, one story: what if e-sales of luxury brands were fake-free?

How an online marketplace for second-hand designer brands won fashionista trust by ensuring authenticity. Let’s meet Videdressing.

As a Product Manager at Chanel, American Meryl Job had a fabulous wardrobe. To keep up with the latest trends, she had a clear-out every so often, but she couldn’t find an appropriate place to sell designer brands online. There was simply nowhere beyond general websites that had the look and feel of luxury fashion, and she knew many Parisian fashionistas and bloggers with the same predicament.

She soon discovered the difficulties of selling luxury goods online. First challenge: guaranteeing authenticity. Secondly, because second-hand luxury goods are valuable, buyers require a return guarantee.

Enter legal expert Renaud Guillerm. He joined Meryl in 2007 to help develop a platform offering a 100% guarantee against counterfeits and a guaranteed return policy for exclusive luxury fashion goods.

Videdressing was one of the first signatories of the charter against counterfeiting in partnership with major luxury brands.

They recruited a team of specialist lawyers to check all the luxury products being sold on the website. To help them, Videdressing developed a specific intellectual property inventory tool to quickly sift out fakes. Compare this to oldworld methods, where an army of people would be required to verify a product.

Sellers quickly lined up to join the community – and their pre-loved goods attracted a large number of buyers (as well as media coverage – journalists were among Videdressing’s first clients). Meryl and Renaud found they had uncovered a massively under-served market.

It’s also a market that renews itself. Fans of luxury goods don’t all have big pockets. Selling items they may have outgrown creates funds for buying new ones.

Today, the community is more than a million people strong. Videdressing maintains its popularity by offering competitive prices (40%-80% cheaper than store-bought items), access to over 900,000 unique pieces from over 8,000 designer brands, and very competitive commission rates (15% for sellers). The team includes fashion specialists, designers who have worked with leading luxury brands, product managers, and developers. They have invested heavily in the mobile site, which accounts for 60% of their business.

From the outset, Videdressing cultivated a strong relationship with its community. Volunteers answer questions from prospective buyers and sellers, and help improve the experience. Ratings encourage sellers to describe their product accurately and provide a high quality service. Videdressing closely monitors transactions and addresses any potential issues.

Customers are mainly women between 25 and 45 with strong fashion sense. While most reside in France, Videdressing have customers in over 100 countries – and a growing number of men (think watches). Videdressing customers like to mix and match, marrying a high-street blouse from Zara or Zadig & Voltaire with a Hermes scarf, for example. Between 4,000 and 5,000 new products go on sale each day.

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