As they foster spaces in which they can finally discuss their fashion interests, men can’t help but take the mic.
By Marissa Lee.
Navigating the torrid landscape of online retail can be wearisome; between sizing woes, shipping costs, and long wait times, it’s no wonder that so many of us are ditching the corporate shopping cart and taking matters into our own hands. The fashion resale market is booming, citing growth rates even the mainstream fashion industry has never seen. The business boasts numbers worthy of the attention of consumers and corporate heads alike. Thredup reports resale has grown 21 times faster than the larger retail apparel market in the last three years, and is projected to hit a value of $64 billion in the next five years.
However, beyond the number-heavy market reports are the platforms themselves. There’s an organic feel to it all; subculture-like communities sprouting from resale platforms out of the shared interest of the users. Gone are the days when luxury pieces are beyond the grasp of fashion fanatics. As Nate Dight – the curator of Grailed and owner of vintage archive @final.encore puts it, “before secondhand luxury became prominent, there really was this huge gap between fashion enthusiasts, with luxury clothing deemed only for those with discretionary income and everyone else settling for mid-level brands. However, since the second hand luxury market has blown up, […] people can browse second hand luxury sites, visit archive fashion pages, and just meet with others with similar interests.”
For instance, beyond just shopping on the sites, the Grailed’s propagators have taken to their own devices to bond over resale culture, fostering inside jokes, lexicology, and even their own form of diasporic offspring. Meme pages have sprouted up surrounding the culture, often boasting tens of thousands of followers and vulgar usernames that fondly mock the names of popular fashion brands (think @raf_semens and @dickowensonline).
The platforms’ informal lexicon consists of terms like ‘jawnz’ (particularly expensive and/or trendy pieces) and ‘grails’ (highly sought-after and rare garments), as well as in-jokes surrounding mainstays in fashion such as Ian Connor and Dover Street Market. There’s a more earnest side to the resale community as well, as luxury archive pages take the term ‘social selling’ to new heights. Never before could two individuals chat informally over direct message surrounding the purchase of an $8,000 Raf Simons jacket or a $400 Maison Margiela archive trench coat (definitely a grail).
However, as it often goes with online communities, there comes a form of (likely unintentional) internal supremacy. These resale sites, which are the offspring of OG selling platforms such as eBay and Facebook marketplace, have yielded mostly male users. It is quite clear that, at least for the high-price, high-reward luxury sites like Grailed and StockX, men run the show.
To figure out why the community is so male-dominated, we looked to students from New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology, who are among the dominant demographic for luxury resale. Student and avid Grailed user, Jack Bergeron, offers that luxury resale is so male-heavy because it’s “one of the first spaces in which men can openly discuss fashion on [their] own terms. These platforms probably have a larger male presence because they showed up first, because there was more of a need for them.” Until recently, popular men’s fashion mostly consisted of tailoring, suits and, as Bergeron puts it, “conservative sportswear.” So, as they foster these spaces in which they may finally discuss their interests, they can’t help but claim the mic. Yes, there are certain female-specific luxury resale spaces (Heroine, Poshmark, etc.), but they operate somewhat differently than their male counterparts.
Gabrielle, company director of Designer Daydream, a luxury eyewear resale e-boutique who got her start on Grailed notes, “I think that women are more prone to shop from sites with a heavy social media presence [and] marketing, as opposed to men who I commonly saw [using] Facebook marketplace and obscure forums. I think they trust a personal relationship [and] better deal more than a mediator having an invisible hand over the transaction.” She also shares that she is sometimes treated differently as a female seller on the men’s websites. “[The] few times that I mentioned I was a girl, I got an instant change of attitude from the buyers, I’ve even been asked for my [Instagram] handle a couple of times,” she says. “I think it’s funny and has probably gotten me a few sales that I wouldn’t have landed if it weren’t for that, but I don’t abuse it. I think that for the most part, I get respected more as a female because they see me as an outlier in the field.”
It’s not necessarily a bad thing that these platforms are male-led, it may even work as an advantage for the female sellers. Even so, beyond the factor (and possible leverage) of gender comes the sellers’ dedication to their craft. As Luis Ruiz, owner of the @virginsdeparis archive notes, “[When selling] independently, [it’s] much more difficult to have everything executed perfectly for the customer to willingly purchase your items. When we create our own page or website as a reseller, we are also creating a name for ourselves.”
Homepage image via @fashion_wankers