Have you tapped into the Vestiaire Collective? If the words designer and discount in the same sentence make your heart race, then this is one fashion website you need in your faves list.
Launched in 2009, the platform offers guaranteed authentic, pre-loved designer clothes and accessories at a fraction of their original price tag.
In a nutshell, it’s the Net-a-Porter of the second-hand fashion world, with infinitely more credibility than platforms like eBay thanks to an in-house anti-counterfeit service that weeds out quality fakes. (Every item sold passes through the Parisian authentication workshop so it’s sighted and certified real.)
To call the company a wild success story is no exaggeration. In just eight years, Vestiaire has built a community of more than five million members across 48 countries, with a growth so rapid Moizant has moved her young family from Paris to London then Hong Kong as the business expanded.
A former fashion marketing executive at John Galliano who grew up around the ready-to-wear retail industry (her mother owned a boutique), Moizant makes sustainable fashion sexy. After all, the core of what Vestiaire offers is recycling to the most glamorous degree.
GRAZIA spoke to the utterly chic thirty-something ahead of her first trip to Melbourne to speak at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival business seminar on Friday 9 March.
I do it all the time. I can catch on any day something hanging there that I don’t wear, so every week I tend to do a minimal clear out, then a bigger one at each season change. It [clearing my cupboard] is a constant thing for me and something very much within my daily routine.
No, never. Honestly, never ever, even my Chanel bag which I thought I would keep forever. I don’t feel attached to things. I am more about the next one I could have, and how much body, my style and my desire is changing, rather than what it was in the past.
This is something I’m keen to explore further, but right now what I’ve seen is that what everyone wants is not that different.
“Buyers in all countries are after big brands like Chanel, Hermes and Vuitton, which is no big surprise, but in Australia, you add a bit of a lifestyle twist with brands like Isabel Marant in the top sellers too.”
What is different is the kind of item Australians are buying. For example, Australians aren’t focused on the very big statement pieces like bags, but instead, they are buying the big brand lifestyle pieces like a Hermes bangle instead. This is the opposite of buyers in Hong Kong, where it’s all about those huge statement pieces like Hermes Birkin bags.
If you ask me the question in a few months it will potentially evolve, but right now it is my Mark Cross bag. It’s an American brand and the bag looks like a tiny suitcase in navy blue. It’s stunning and very easy to wear and not super well-known, so everybody is like WOW when they see it. I’m in contact with so many bags and products every day, I tend to go away from the obvious ones and trends. I’d rather go for the more exclusive pieces.
No, not at all. Even if we have 100 Hermes Kelly bags on the site, they will all be very different because they’re not going to be the same colour, same condition, same price. We’re desperate to have more of the same big product so there is more variety.
I learned from an early age working with my mum in her shop that I was passionate about the cross-over of business and fashion. Then I learned a lot in [my marketing roles], but I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing. What I did learn from working at John Galliano is that creativity and working in the studio is the essence of fashion. When you add everything together, my background enabled me to create something that I really wanted to be part of and that I really felt passionate about.
We talk items being about pre-owned and pre-loved. When you buy something, you’re buying the story of someone owning and loving that product before you – there’s a very emotional component to this. This company started when my partners opened their wardrobes and took all the very nice products they were not wearing and didn’t want anymore. Giving a new life to those products [by re-selling them] was another way of being sustainable. We are a generation raised and born to think about [conserving water and electricity at home], so we are already very conscious about waste in general.
“It’s quite normal for us to give another life to a product we own, especially struggling with our fashion budget.”
I stopped working for three years to raise the girls [who are now aged 10 and 12] and I did fashion school in between. I was thinking being an entrepreneur would give me more time with the kids – that was a big mistake. I moved from a period of being with the girls full-time to another period where I was literally super, super, super involved [in the business] and working night and day. I’m still struggling with the balance but I am very passionate about what I do. I share a lot with my girls about my job, my passion and why I’m travelling. My girls get to experience the world thanks to my job and they are becoming very adaptable, language-wise and culture-wise. So even if the balance is not always perfect, I think the job and all those moving parts are bringing something to me and to the girls.
It starts somewhere around 5.30am when my banker husband wakes up – because he wakes up early I tend to do the same. When I’m super-good I go to the gym, then have breakfast with the girls. My office hours start around 8.30; from then it’s back to back working or emails or conference calls until somewhere like 7pm. I tend to not break for lunch, I eat at my desk, then I’m back at home in the evening around 7.30 because I really want to keep dinner and breakfast with my family. Those are the only moments all day and food is so important to me, so it’s quite a good way to combine them. After dinner and bedtime I go back to work on my computer, especially now we’re in Asia with seven hours’ difference to France. I do Skype meetings with Paris in the evenings.
There were six of us as co-founders in the beginning and my role for the past few years now has been to grow the business in new countries or regions. Each country is like my child – it’s planting a little seed and raising it so it becomes a big thing. That’s what I really love and enjoy – building a team, the awareness, the process. It’s those early days of a new project that I really love.
Get to know yourself and your business strengths. It’s quite rare that you own all the strengths and skills required to run your business alone, so get partner someone who complements you. That’s an error I’ve seen in some of my girlfriend’s businesses – they tend to partner with someone who’s just like themselves, often someone very creative, but then no one is expert at the business side of the business. Be down to earth and understand what you’re capable of doing and don’t be afraid to partner with someone. Success is only a collaborative team effort. I don’t believe in a one-man band. A group of talents will always be more successful.
“It’s better to have a part share of a very successful business than own all of something that’s not going anywhere.”
Personally, it’s the balance of business with family, but professionally it’s been a big learning curve. I had marketing skills but no digital skills, and then I had to learn how to expand the business internationally. I lived in France and we launched there, but then I had to learn about the UK market, then all the other European markets and now about Asia and Australia, so I think my learning curve is my challenge but it’s a very positive one. That’s how I get very motivated and passionate about what I do. As soon as I know I’ve owned the skill or learned enough, then I challenge myself by moving to a new region or new role. It’s always putting me out of my comfort zone.
I have no plans to move right now, but I would love at some point to experience Shanghai. I’ve never been there but that is something very tempting so maybe the next move will be China.
Family comes first and I spend as much time as I can with them, but how I disconnect is basically through food. I do love cooking. In Europe I used to go to the farmer’s market and buy my fresh organic food, then cook. It really helps me to switch off and stop thinking and disconnect. Another thing that I really love doing is photography. It’s been a while because of lack of time, but I do love to escape my routine and take a good camera and go out in the streets and shoot. It is a luxury when I can do that.
I’m very excited because I’ve never been to Melbourne before and I’ve never experienced VAMFF. I’m really happy to be speaking and I’m looking forward to experiencing the rest of the talks and shows and events. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity in a very successful way to mix fashion and business.
Fanny Moizant will speak at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival Business Seminar on sustainability in the fashion industry and how Vestiaire Collective offers a sustainable approach to Fashion.