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SecondHand Fashion: Is It Time For The Naija Fashion ‘It’ Girl To Embrace It?

Sometime ago, I had this idea to organize a Wardrobe Swap get together among some select friends of mine, to see how well it would go… or how badly. I sought counsel on this and was told it may not be something a lot of fashion lovers may like- swapping clothes with people they didn’t know, they may not mind giving out theirs, but taking would be a whole different ball game, so I put the idea in the back burner of my mind and haven’t revisited it yet.

In this part of the world, where for as much as we like to follow trends, we also like to dictate our own fashion; second hand fashion or consignment shopping is not popular among the fashion ‘It’ girls. No one wants to buy a dress that is how many years old, no matter who the designer is, when she can get the same designer’s clothing, brand new, perhaps even off the runway. In Nigeria you see, there is little or no knowledge of clothing that may hold some historic value – perhaps used in historic movies, worn by somebody important etc. talk less of holding any value for such.

The snooty “fashion girl” stereotype in Nigeria, loves to travel the world to shop! Otherwise, she’d be looking out for the latest item in the well known Made-In-Nigeria designers’ store. Those who are  cool with used clothing, fall lower down the line of these high earning or high paying fashion lovers.

In other parts of the fashion world however, in this age of knockoffs and nonstop newness, having a vintage (or near-vintage) Balenciaga or Chanel look also cements your status as a True Fashion Fan, unfazed by the newest ‘It’ item. To be seen in boots that have not been produced in the last 10 years still in rock solid condition, stands you out.  Refined tastes, knowledge so deep, that you’d rather have those old boots that only a die-hard obsessive would recognize, is like a badge of honor.That’s such a contrast to our world!

In the past, most women had to scour local markets where ‘Bales’ were shipped in every market day or find local consignment shops, for used clothes, but in 2017, we’ve noticed that the concept has gone cutting-edge. Thanks to the internet and new websites and, biggest of them all, social media like Facebook or Instagram,  you can hunt for secondhand fashion from your phone. It’s also easier than ever to sell your designer goods: Instead of stuffing an old dress in the back of your closet, you can sell it on instagram and give someone else the opportunity to love and wear it.

There are online sites or social media accounts that offer second hand designerand non designer clothes bags and shoes, some with short videos showing in what condition they are in, also showing authenthicity. It may still be a good idea to see what you are purchasing, to know if the Gucci bag you ordered for is the real deal before you pay, to be sure- but this all depends on the site you are buying from. You may need to learn about the difference between the real and fake item you are buying on your own.

If you do ask these retailers however, they will be happy to tell you that not only is the stigma about secondhand shopping beginning to fade, but there’s serious demand for them. Particularly in the accessories department. People have been shopping secondhand clothing for years and hiding it, but I think the real breakthrough here comes with the bags and shoes.

It’s only a matter of time and someone with the right approach, to come up with respected secondhand and consignment stores like  the RealReal and ThredUp which has stores over in areas extending the SoHo areas in the UK.

Inside Rebag’s pop-up at 390 West Broadway.

Inside Rebag’s pop-up at 390 West Broadway. Photo: rebag.com

Another is Rebag. This store buys andd sells used designer bags.The used handbag market is a little different from used clothing, perhaps because bags feel a little less intimate; you don’t wear them on your body like a dress or pants. Needless to say this is a market still largely untapped in Nigeria. The demand for rare vintage bags has existed for a while in other parts of the world: A 20-year-old Hermès Birkin or Chanel 2.55 is more highly coveted than a brand-new one, and could be much more expensive too!

Most consignment stores have secondhand bags in stock, but Rebag, which only sells and buys designer handbags, doesn’t consider itself a consignment store at all.(Traditional consignment stores wait to pay you until your item has sold.) That’s mainly because they’ll buy your bag and pay you at the same time—not when your bag sells.

You upload a few photos of your bag on Rebag’s app. They’ll send you a free quote within one business day, and if you accept the offer, they’ll ship your bag to their HQ and pay you immediately.  “We developed a unique algorithm that can accurately predict the value of any bag in the world with a very high level of confidence,” Charles Gorra, founder and CEO, says. “We’ll buy your designer bag on the spot and make the whole process a breeze.”

“Our purpose is to extend the life cycle of luxury bags and to reduce unnecessary waste in the fashion industry,” Gorra says. “The best designer bags are made with the finest materials in the world—they’re made to last. We encourage people to embrace what we call ‘secondary behavior,’ which includes reselling, but also reusing, recycling, donating, and gifting.”

So let’s take a poll right here: If you live in Nigeria, would you run to buy used designers bags in a shop just like Rebag here? or are you content with the smell of the brand new, in your closet?

Extracts from : Vogue.com