There are standard luxury wardrobes – silks, leathers, a classic handbag or two – and then there are wardrobes that house collections worth thousands – millions, even. Tatiana Wolter-Ferguson, co-founder of designer recommerce site Hardly Ever Worn It (HEWI), recently discovered a collection worth a six-figure sum: it belonged to one of the company’s VIPs, a select group of clients who employ HEWI to detox, curate and monetise their wardrobes.

Chanel trompe-l’oeil tweed ensemble, pre-fall 2017, at Re-See
Chanel trompe-l’oeil tweed ensemble, pre-fall 2017, at Re-See © Re-See

The luxury secondhand market is growing 12 per cent per year, versus the primary luxury market’s three per cent, according to Luxe Digital, and with it a number of personal wardrobe clearing services are emerging. With an average listing price of £400, VIP members are integral to HEWI’s business model. The service is by application only, with registered members granted access to home visits, exclusive listings and on-demand advice. “If they’re shopping in Harrods, they might send a picture to the VIP team saying, ‘How much could I get back for this in six months’ time?’” says Wolter-Ferguson. The answer could be as much as 80 per cent – more if you’re talking handbags. “It’s about seeing your wardrobe as a living asset,” adds HEWI board director Rachel Reavley, who credits the resale market to the rise of a more strategic shopper. “They realise the value of buying something that is beautifully crafted rather than disposable,” she says.

A pre-loved Emilio Pucci scarf from cudoni.com
A pre-loved Emilio Pucci scarf from cudoni.com © Cudoni
By Rotation offers Hermès Birkin bags from £50 per day
By Rotation offers Hermès Birkin bags from £50 per day © By Rotation

At Paris-based Re-See, 85 per cent of transactions are made by returning clients; the hope is that an annual clear-out might amount to a preowned Hermès Kelly. The company provides a “turnkey approach to reselling”, with online and in-person closet cleaning services available internationally. “We price, stock and catalogue all pieces, shooting everything in-house and curating our selection with a distinct fashion perspective,” says co-founder Sofia Bernardin, previously Vogue’s international fashion coordinator. Top-tier sales include a $21,700 Balenciaga dress and a $19,800 Hermès Flag Birkin.

Molly Goddard blue Barbara sheer tulle dress, £650, from HEWI
Molly Goddard blue Barbara sheer tulle dress, £650, from HEWI
Louis Vuitton Pégase 55 rolling luggage, £1,500, from EKC Luxury
Louis Vuitton Pégase 55 rolling luggage, £1,500, from EKC Luxury

For clients of accessories specialists EKC Luxury, part of the pleasure of resale comes from the clear-out. Shoppers around the world can book an afternoon wardrobe detox (from £250) with luxury specialist Charlotte Rogers, accompanied by a delivery of champagne and flowers. Rogers highlights well-kept styles by brands such as Chanel and Hermès as the “key to achieving the highest resale prices’’. Similarly at Cudoni, collections are done in-person with an optional telephone consultation beforehand to run through popular styles. A recent client had discovered a collection of ’80s Chanel suits in her friend’s wardrobe. “She had no idea how valuable they all were,” says a member of the team.

Those who aren’t quite ready to part with their most treasured pieces – or are just looking to accrue more value – might consider renting them out through By Rotation. The app’s free Wardrobe Management service can advise on which pieces will be successful, take care of the listing process and send the client a monthly income report. Top lenders earn more than £2,500 per month, with many making back the retail cost of their items.

Essentially, resale is helping to give wardrobes a second life. “If you missed out on buying something the first time round, these are great treasure troves to go into,” says Reavley. But don’t be fooled into thinking you can wait around. “We say, ‘Buy now or cry later’.”

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