Pandemic gives French vintage fashion sales a modern twist

By Elizabeth Pineau

PARIS, Apr 7 (Reuters) – At the Artcurial auction house overlooking the closed boutiques on Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris, vintage fashion expert Clara Vivien oversees the sale of hundreds of jeweled jackets, shoes and accessories from Chanel, all online.

Paris may be the fashion capital of the world, but a third COVID-19 lockdown is once again redirecting luxury lovers with plenty of time and money to spend to their screens, in search of the next vintage Chanel dress or handbag. Hermes.

Vintage was already enjoying a renaissance, Vivien declared, fueled by growing discomfort with “fast fashion” among consumers and increased environmental awareness. But the pandemic brought him online.

“Vintage is exploding in the second-hand market,” Vivien said. “People can’t go into boutiques and so they buy from online auctions.”

The bags are selling particularly well. “People who bought a Chanel or Hermès bag today are delighted to know that their investment continues to grow and that with the pandemic it increases with no end in sight,” Vivien said.

Sales of vintage fashion and clothing online quadrupled in online auctions in France in 2020 compared to pre-pandemic levels at 6.2 million euros, according to online auction house aggregator Interencheres.

Antoine Saulnier, an auctioneer at Gros & Delettrez, said fashion sales that before the pandemic could have attracted 100 online shoppers now call five or 10 times that number.

“As a result, the prices of some items are going up,” Saulnier said as he prepared for the sale of nearly 600 Vuitton items this week.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau. Written by Richard Lough. Edited in Spanish by Lucila Sigal)