We May Be Sick of Hearing About 'Quiet Luxury,' But It Ruled Resale in 2023

The clean silhouettes, neutral color palettes and aversion to logos of quiet luxury reigned supreme in 2023 — not just in the incessant coverage of Gwyneth Paltrow's courtroom outfits or the costumes on "Succession," but also in resale, according to The RealReal's 2023 Luxury Consignment Report.

This year, the luxury resale marketplace found that brands that fit the "quiet luxury" or "stealth wealth" aesthetics performed very well: Celine and Bottega Veneta made it to the top 10 of the most-searched brands (at number nine and 10, respectively), overtaking Burberry and BalenciagaGucci retained its number-one spot on the list; Louis Vuitton came in second, followed by Chanel, Prada, Hermès, Dior, Saint Laurent and Fendi, in that order.

"We've always had that [quiet luxury] core base, and I think it's because a lot of the brands that fall into that are more timeless," Noelle Sciacca, The RealReal's senior lead of women's fashion and strategic partnership, says. "It's things that have more life in the circular economy. People can come back for a beautiful cashmere sweater, buy it and consign it, and it's always gonna be in style. I think what surprised us mostly this year was the demand among millennial and Gen Z, especially for brands like Brunello Cucinelli and Loro Piana."

The 2023 Luxury Consignment Report also revealed that there's more than one way to look rich. The platform identified three aesthetic subcultures: old money luxury (think yacht-ready style, a Dior Lady bag), unapologetic luxury (more maximalist, with Chanel CC earrings and an Hermès Kelly or Birkin 25) and quiet luxury (a Bottega Veneta Cassette, affinity for The Row). The most-purchased brands within these were Brunello Cucinelli, Celine, Bottega Veneta, Loro Piana, The Row and Khaite. Gen Z, a growing luxury resale customer base, searched these labels 29% more this year, according to The RealReal.

In other Gen-Z news, the generation spent 40% more on bags this year, and they particularly loved the Fendi Baguette, Celine Macadam, Bottega Veneta Intrecciato and Louis Vuitton Speedy, in addition to Chanel's Classic Flap.

As far as brands that saw significant growth overall, Loewe experienced a boost in searches (59%) on the platform in 2023, as did Loro Piana (36%) and Miu Miu (22%). Then going into specific products, as Barbiecore spread to every corner of the world, sales for Valentino's distinctive hot-pink shade rose 264%. (Hi, Consignment Barbie!) Ferragamo crossbody bags and St. John's suits also had their moments, as searches for these items increased 38% and 32%, respectively. The latter is another indication of the prevalence of quiet luxury in resale, per Sciacca.

"We talk about St. John making a comeback, which I have been a champion [for] forever — I've been trying to make it a thing, and it's cool to see that the data supports we see an increase," she says. "It's a little bit of an older demographic that gravitates towards it, so I loved that."

The RealReal Luxury Consignment Report also broke down some geographic shopping trends, like how Seattle was the nation's knitwear capital and Chicago loved to bundle up in Moncler and Dallas had the highest order values. Chanel's Classic Flap emerged as the most-searched bag nationwide; it was also the most-purchased bag across generations.

Vintage bags have captured customers' hearts in the past few years, with demand increasing 300% since 2020. The fascination with vintage carried into clothing, with searches for the 1990s up 25% year-over-year. Additionally, interest in '90s Japanese avant-garde designers grew: Matsuda by 70%, Yohji Yamamoto by 51%, Issey Miyake by 45% and Comme des Garçons by 26%.

For those who treat their handbag collection like a stock portfolio and are wondering what to invest in (or sell), the report also lists 11 styles as currently having the best resale value, or return on investment; those are: Hermès Birkin (retain 127% of value), Chanel 22 (retains 104% of value), Goyard Mini Anjou (retains 100% of value), Saint Laurent Icare, Prada Re-edition, Loewe Puzzle, Dior Lady D-lite, Louis Vuitton Neverfull, Jacquemus Le Chiquito, Gucci 1955 Horsebit and Khaite Lotus..

Rumblings about a recession haven't stopped luxury sales. Instead, The RealReal noted how its consumers are making fewer, yet more expensive purchases. Average order values have increased across generations, from 14% for baby boomers to 18% for Gen Z. (On generational lines, millennials embraced pieces deemed in "fair condition," i.e. showing heavier wear: As a whole, the category is up 265%) Reconsigning — or buying an item from The RealReal and selling it back — went up 24% this year.

You can read the full The RealReal 2023 Luxury Consignment Report here.

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