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Luxury Resale, Including Jewelry And Watches, Rocketed In 2020 |  September 01, 2021 (0 comments)


San Francisco, CA—The circular economy—aka resale—is booming, and jewelry is a key part of it. Image: TheRealReal

Data from luxury resale site TheRealReal, which produces an annual “Resale Report” based on the shopping and consigning behavior of its 17+ million members, says men, Millennials, and Gen-Z are driving the boom and shoppers want high-value investment pieces that will stand the test of time. During COVID, the site saw a 36% increase in first-time buyers of high-value items.

Rati Lavesque, COO of the RealReal, said, “Of the many trends driven by COVID-19, one of the most surprising in the current economic climate is the significant increase in shoppers buying high-value investment pieces. Buyers are gravitating toward quieter stealth luxury and embracing luxury labels’ streetwear designs. In a bright spot during these difficult times, engagement in the circular economy is high, specifically among brands and consignors.” 

Related: Pre-Owned Jewelry Leads Secondhand Luxury Goods Market

In terms of jewelry and watches, sales growth of high-value watches grew six times as fast as sales of lower-value watches, says TheRealReal report, and sales of high-value jewelry grew 22 times faster than sales of lower-value jewelry. 

Not surprisingly, Rolex sales increased 32% year-on-year in 2020 vs. 2019, a jump that was nine times higher than all other watches. But interestingly, engagement rings as a category overtook Rolex: as TheRealReal speculates that quarantine proved to be the make-or-break moment for many relationships, engagement ring sales spiked 45%. Remember, too, that we’re talking about second-hand diamond rings here—not brand-new ones.

Speaking of brands, unbranded fine jewelry far outpaced all the top jewelry brands in TheRealReal’s 2020 sales. Unbranded earrings and bracelets both grew 24% year-on-year over 2019, and understated jewelry styles were 1.8 times more popular than statement jewelry.

The top 10 brands in fashion did not include any jewelry brands, although interestingly, Tiffany was the number-one home brand, with its Atlas crystal serving bowl the best-seller.

Style-wise, streetwear is a force that cannot be ignored, says the report. The luxury brands that have been quick to recognize streetwear’s influence are becoming some of the hottest resale brands, with sales leaping 486%.

For jewelers, key takeaways are the importance of learning to style jewelry with streetwear as well as—for the immediate future, anyway—work-from-home outfits, and to recognize that younger consumers are extremely conscious of social and environmental responsibility. To wit, the eco-friendly Black-owned brand Telfar’s shopper tote—the 2020 “it” bag jokingly dubbed the “Bushwick Birkin”—enjoyed a 246% leap in sales. Even though Telfar shopping bags sell for $150 to $257 depending on size, they’re as hard to come by as a real Birkin.

Secondhand shopping isn’t necessarily about price anymore. Often it’s more about environmental awareness and rethinking fashion’s footprint on the earth, as many secondhand luxury items are selling for a mere 20% or so off the price of a new one. Meanwhile, IKEA, the Swedish global mega-retailer of furniture and home goods, just entered the secondhand market. The retailer specializes in affordable yet well-designed products, most of which are inexpensive enough to buy new but require assembly. Its secondhand service—a pilot program at its Conshohocken, PA store outside Philadelphia—will allow consumers to trade in pieces, which then will be sold in the “as is” department.

Jewelers have multiple options for creating a secondhand department, whether it's buying off the street or buying from an estate jewelry dealer or show. Or even try digging deep into the safe for dated old inventory you haven't gotten around to breaking apart or melting down. After all, if it's in a case of "pre-loved" jewelry, its age is part of its charm. When you're engaging a customer in the sales process, if they ask questions that show they're highly eco-conscious, it can be a great signal to show them your pre-loved goods.

Julie Wainwright, founder and CEO of TheRealReal, said in the report, “This time of uncertainty has been a catalyst for reflection. Seeing the planet visibly healing during quarantine has served as a powerful testament to the positive impact we can all have on the environment. People are making concrete changes to live more sustainably. Brands are rethinking production and the afterlife of what they create. Engagement with resale is hitting an all-time high and it’s helping pave the way to a more sustainable future for fashion.” 

Read more here.

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