You've finally beefed up your savings account, paid off a healthy amount of your college loans, and made the decision that it's time for your first real, major fashion investment.
Hell yes. But, wait — this isn't a choice that can be made on the fly. Even if you've been eyeing that Gucci bag in the window for what feels like forever, they call it an investment for a reason: Serious thought need to be put into what brands, trends, and styles are actually worth your hard-earned money — and will provide somewhat of a financial return should you choose to sell it down the line.
With designer resale sites having a bigger moment than ever before, we tapped the pros at
The RealReal for the latest intel on what's actually got the most promising return-on-investment. We know, "ROI" sounds like a term that should only be brought up in a boardroom, but it actually applies to your closet, too. To really make a big-spender purchase you won't regret, it's worth doing a little research to see what types of pieces will actually going to keep their value — or, better yet, appreciate over time. Because, honestly, there's nothing worse than finding out the item you spent your rent on a few years ago isn't even worth a few-hundred bucks today.
With the tips ahead, though, you'll learn how to invest like a true adult (only, in shoes and bags instead of stocks and real estate). Click on for The Real Real's chief merchant Rati Sahi Levesque's must-know tricks (along with our corresponding picks) for finally treating yo'-self to that special wishlist item.
First Things First: How To Sell This whole idea may seem daunting if you've never resold anything before. To get the basics out of the way, you should know that there are three ways to consign with The RealReal: The service can either come to your house and pick up your items, you can send them in a box provided by the company with prepaid shipping label, or you can drop them off at one of The RealReal's Luxury Consignment Offices if you live in a city that has one. As far as what The RealReal takes for consigning, you can check if your items' brands are on the site's current designer list. The service takes anything that's in good-to-excellent condition (that means no major stains, holes, scuffs, buttons missing, or broken zippers) and less than 10 years old. Then, they'll post the items, and once something sells, you'll get a check. Plus, we're told most items sell within 30 days — not a bad wait for a little extra cash. Céline Strat Brow Sunglasses, $245, available at The RealReal.
What The Hell To Sell So many closet space-wasters, so little time — so what's really worth reselling? "I would say handbags, fine jewelry, and watches — and even home and art — are all items that hold their resale value a little bit better than, say, shoes would," Levesque tells Refinery29. "We wear our shoes a little harder than other things, so they're less likely to be in better condition. And then with clothes, they can be a little bit more trend-based, so there's a little more seasonality that plays into that (whereas a handbag could be vintage, or it could come from a heritage brand, and they tend to be cool, even if they're vintage.)" Like wine, some things do get better with age. Hermès Togo Birkin 35, $8,800, available at The RealReal.
The $$$ You Can Expect To Make It's understandably tough to name an exact percentage you can expect to make on your consigned items, but here's the low-down: "It really does range," says Levesque. "Something like shoes — let's say the Valentino Rockstuds, for example — you can make about 60% of it back, I would say. If it's something like a contemporary brand, you make maybe 20 or 30 percent of it back. But then, if it's something like a Birkin, you make probably all of it back; it actually appreciates in value. So, it just depends on what it is. For fine jewelry and watches, you can make probably 80 or 90 percent of it back — it holds its value, as well." This should help you at least narrow in on what category you should spend the big bucks on. Valentino 1973 Rockstud Flats, $825, available at The RealReal.
The Brands That'll Really Pay Off Alright, let's get right to the point. According to Levesque, the top five brands for return on investment are: Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Gucci, and Rolex watches. We know, shocking to no one. But, those labels, and their most iconic designs, are the ones that really uphold their value. "These are all what we call marquee or investment brands because you can make more of your money back on those items, especially if there's an iconic style to that brand — like the Vuitton Speedy, or the Hermès Kelly, or the Chanel Boy bag or flap bag." And yes, we had to ask if Gucci is exploding as much on its site as it is everywhere else."We definitely saw a big uptick in search for Gucci since Alessandro Michele took over. But also, it was interesting because even the stuff that was made prior to when he took over sells well, too. So, its not just post-him, it's pre-him...it's the brand as a whole. So, anything with Gucci or horsebit loafers will move, even if it's an older style," she says. "And we saw that with Celine, too, when Phoebe Philo took over, all of Celine was hot again, not just Phoebe Philo's era." Pretty crazy what an of-the-moment creative director can do for a brand's sales in both the new and re-sale markets. Gucci 2016 Embroidered Dionysus Bag, $3,100, available at The RealReal.
Note: Trends Matter, Too But, it's not just the brand name that matters — current trends make a difference in your return on investment, too. "All the '90s trends, even shoulder bags, are certainly big for us right now... And platforms for sure, we can't keep them in stock," she adds. "The cool thing about our site is that trends always come back, so even as soon as [a designer] has a show, we can put that look together with our pieces even if we don't have that exact collection, because it's just a matter of piecing the right items together to give you that similar look, even with pieces that may not be completely current." Fashion always repeats itself, as they say. And, in addition to those classic designer names, newer, buzzier designers have high ROI, too. Think: Vetements, Mansur Gavriel, Brock Collection, and Loewe. Vetements 2017 In Progress Sweatshirt, $925, available at The RealReal.
Last, But Not Least: Timing & Pricing Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), there isn't one magical time of year that you'll make the most money on The RealReal. "We now have five million members and ship to 63 countries, so we find everything sells pretty well all year round," describes Levesque. And, if you're wondering how The RealReal even prices your much-treasured investment items, it's a mix of human and computer calculations. "We use an algorithm, so it's a combination of that and our stylists looking at things to come up with a price. It's hard to teach a computer what a trend is — it could just be a slight rounding of a sleeve that's making something current right now," she adds. So, be sure to keep this all in mind before moving forward with a major purchase — because even though it's hard to believe now, you may want to flip that buy later on. And you'll be glad bought it with serious consideration when you do. Diane von Furstenberg Dylann Silk Blouse, $90, available at The RealReal.