Could I have a shabby one, please — the growing demand for bags with visible signs of wear

September 2, 2023

How imperfection turned to be the new fashion? Why are the visible traces of history so attractive? 

Fashion is often associated with the necessity to look perfect and dress impeccably. However, in recent years we have seen buyers more accepting of the imperfections of resale fashion items. This trend is based on a simple truth — an item having traces of wear but remaining beautiful at the same time has really stood and passed the test of time. In some fashion circles, it has even become something of a badge of honor.

According to a The RealReal report  the demand for bags in “fair condition” — that is, with scratches, worn corners and even internal stains — has doubled. These bags are currently selling for an average of 33% less than their ideal versions. More than half of purchases come from Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hermès and Prada. The most requested “migratory” bag is the Louis Vuitton Monogram Multipli-Cité Tote.

Gabrielle Rilka, founder of the resale platform Break Archive, notes that the aesthetics of the second-hand item itself is important for a new generation of aftermarket enthusiasts: “There is something romantic in a worn bag for 8,000 pounds.” This trend is often associated with two iconic looks: Mary-Kate Olsen with a battered Kelly bag and Jane Birkin with her eponymous Hermès bag, adorned with stickers and all sorts of trinkets.

Plus, everything old is cool again. Culture is increasingly looking for a new take on old things, whether it's a childhood favorite (Barbie) or a forgotten brand (Ferragamo).

Fashion researcher Shelby Ivy Christie speculates on the social dimension of the trend — visibly worn but still luxurious pieces may be a way to “show off your money without showing it,” offering a safe and even elegant look in times of economic crisis. It also helps to draw a line between the new money and old money, as the latter often eschew pristine clothing in favor of second-hand classics.

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