The STUVVZ team recently talked to Fanny Moizant, Co-Founder of Vestiaire Collective, and her talented team about authenticity in the online shopping culture, the collective’s product curation process, and how to spot real amidst replicas.
i) What does the word ‘authentic’ mean to you and your team?
We take authenticity very seriously at Vestiaire Collective, it’s what stands us apart from our competitors. Authenticity is one of our key focuses within the business, we are committed to fighting the sale of counterfeit products online by educating our members on tips for buying online and what to look out for. Our dedicated Authenticity team physically checks every item that is sold on Vestiaire Collective to ensure it’s a genuine piece.
ii) Your global curation teams come into contact with over 30,000 items and products per week. What are some of your standards and criteria for handpicking the most outstanding and high-quality items to be featured on the website?
Vestiaire Collective isn’t just a shopping site, it’s a social site and somewhere you can come to find inspiring editorial content so all of the items on the site have to be inspiring. Our teams look at the brand (is it still relevant?), the item (is it on trend or a classic piece that people will still want to buy?), and then the overall condition, before pricing the item.
iii) The consumer-to-consumer structure is interesting, and you had mentioned that Vestiaire Collective is one of the first online platforms to adopt this. Where did it all start?
Back in 2009, I noticed that people were selling products from the previous season on their blogs during the recession, but I was concerned that there wasn’t a trusted online site that would guarantee authenticity and give a fair price for the piece depending on its condition. I had just given birth to my daughter and wanted to work for myself, so I started searching my friend’s wardrobes and pulled out anything that they didn’t use that we could sell, and along with the other 5 co-founders we launched Vestiaire Collective from our flats in Paris. That was 8 years ago, and now we have offices in 5 countries and over 6 million members on the site.
iv) Please tell us about your participation and passion towards fighting against online counterfeiting? What measures have you been taking, and how does this make Vestiaire Collective different and unique? What is your process of combating against online counterfeiting?
In 2012, we signed the ‘Fight Against Online Counterfeiting Charter’ initiated by the French government. The charter joins brands such as Chanel, Celine, Dior, Burberry, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton in order to collaborate in the fight against the sale of online counterfeits, which we are extremely passionate about. We work hand in hand with the luxury houses to ensure our teams are trained to the highest level ensuring no fakes pass through our offices. If we ever have an item we’re not 100% sure on, we will work with the brand to fully authenticate it, and the brand will then provide a certificate of approval.
v) Any tips for buyers and customers who are looking for the highest quality of items? What are some of the first qualities you spot when distinguishing real from replicas?
My main advice to avoid a counterfeit piece would be to always buy from a trusted site.
The finishing of an item is the main giveaway that a product is a fake, with luxury bags we will touch and smell the leather as the feel of premium leathers is very different to counterfeit pieces, and it will often smell strongly of glue.
Items could look authentic to most eyes, but when under a microscope our experts can pick out if the setting or finishing doesn’t match the standard of that specific brand.