How Fashionphile’s Sarah Davis went from eBay to leading multibillion-dollar luxury goods resale market

Luxury fashion resale has a time.

Thanks to companies like California-based Fashionphile, consumers can purchase $ 2,000 Chanel handbags and $ 800 Manolo Blahnik stilettos for a fraction of the price.

Founder and President Sarah Davis was just a law student when she launched Fashionphile as an eBay store in 1999. Since then, the brand has grown into the largest retailer of luxury fashion and accessories in the States. -United with in-person locations – sales stations – in 11 states and a thriving e-commerce platform. Retail giant Neiman Marcus bought a minority stake in the company in 2019 and incorporated the resale platform into its product offerings. There are now six Fashionphile sales studios in Neiman Marcus stores where potential sellers can have their luxury items appraised by appointment.

With more than two decades in the luxury goods resale market, Davis takes the pulse of what has grown into an industry valued at $ 24 billion. At a Real Talk stream event on Wednesday, the founder spoke to Inc.‘s Brit Morse on Fashionphile’s Secret to Success and the Lessons She Learned. Here are some highlights from the conversation.

Be nice to your client, and she will tell her friends.

What if there was a niche audience for your product? Davis said she knew this would be the case for second-hand handbags, accessories and luxury fashion. Davis said the brand initially didn’t know how to direct its marketing efforts other than general awareness. But the solution ended up being right in front of them. Word of mouth was an effective way to develop Fashionphile customers.

“It’s a weird and very narrow niche. We thought the best way to sell to our client would be to be really good to our client, and she will tell her friends that,” Davis said.

Value your relationship with your selling customers.

The online experience of selling luxury items is a key part of the Fashionphile brand, as well as competitors like The RealReal, Poshmark and Depop. Almost 85% of Fashionphile’s purchases and sales are done online. Fashion-loving shoppers can make a virtual appointment online with a seller who will evaluate their item, request an online quote, or book a white-glove pickup.

When it comes to attracting customers for second-hand luxury items, Davis said that part of the equation isn’t too difficult. Most high-end luxury brands avoid discounts and sales. After all, scarcity is the main lure.

“I joke internally that it’s not that hard to sell a Gucci bag below retail, or a pair of Chanel flats below retail. Some of these items are never on sale. You won’t find Chanel sale., “she said.

That’s why Davis said the brand values ​​customers who sell on the platform, whether they come in person at Fashionphile’s physical outlets or sell online. The loyalty of dedicated sellers allows Fashionphile to keep a wide selection of items in stock. To accommodate the different preferences of its sellers, Fashionphile offers outlets for those who find it an easier option than photographing and shipping the items themselves.

“What’s really difficult is, how do you get more genuine brands and branded items? How to get more pre-owned Rolex and Van Cleef necklaces, Cartier love bracelets and Chanel flats? That’s why it’s important that we have a good relationship with our client and make things as easy as possible, ”she said.

Heirloom coins are now bullion coins.

Luxury and fashion handbags were once considered heritage pieces. People passed vintage Rolex watches or Chanel handbags to children and grandchildren. But thanks to the luxury resale market, consumers no longer cling to items for posterity. They regard these valuable items as bullion coins.

“If I gave my daughter my old Chanel flap, she would sell this stuff so fast,” Davis said. “She’s going to sell my Chanel flap and buy herself a Gucci fanny pack. I mean, let’s be honest, we think things differently now,” she said.

But some luxury items are not meant to be resold. Davis gave the example of a Rolex watch your father gave you as a graduation gift. “Don’t sell this to us. Keep this,” she said.

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