(Re) Loved Exchange, a circular ecosystem established by the American luxury fashion house Coach in 2021 for redesigning and up-crafting its preowned bags, was officially launched in China on 9 March, according to the brand’s customer service at IFS in Chengdu. So far, the service is only available at five local stores in four cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Shenzhen, as per the Chinese media news outlet National Business Daily.
After its western debut in Europe with a vintage pop-up store in London’s Spitalfields Market in 2022, the latest move closely follows the program’s entry into another Asian market, Japan, in January, showing the brand’s ambition to expand its global footprint in sustainability.
It is understood that the service is only available for items sold at the brand’s own stores while standards for to-be-upcycled goods vary from one to the other. Customised products are not eligible at the store in Chengdu, although the tailored pieces are accepted at the store in Shanghai Taikoo Li. Successfully returned items will then be sent back to the brand’s birthplace in the United States to refashion after evaluation, which is expected to take at least 6 months before it gets a new lease on life.
The continued stride by Coach is driven by the ongoing global sensation of “sustainable fashion”, and in China the concept is gaining steam too amongst the more environmentally conscious generations of Gen Z and Millennials. This has brought out the prospect of the domestic luxury resale market being projected to hit 38.4 billion RMB (5.56 billion USD) by 2025, as per the 2023 Sustainable Fashion Industry Insights Report, produced by Hongbulin, a Chinese lifestyle e-commerce platform that also has a focus on second-hand luxury.
While other luxury labels, including Gucci and Valentino, also rushed to the luxury resale race, with launches of their own circular marketplaces such as Gucci Vault, and Valentino Vintage, the French luxury conglomerate LVMH, in contrast, doesn’t seem keen to join the battlefield. Speaking at the annual review conference in January, Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of the group revealed that “LVMH has no plans to set foot in the territory of the secondary luxury market”, adding the risks of counterfeit products poses the biggest concern for renowned brands like itself, which may further damage brands’ reputation in the long run.
The seemingly lucrative luxury resale market is, therefore, a double-edged sword. While responding to a more sustainable consumption practice, efforts will need to be relocated to improve the evaluation and appraisal mechanism, and extra precautions are also required in identifying substandard goods in their circular systems.