Luxury consignment shop TheRealReal released a 54-piece capsule collection last week. The collection, called ReCollection, features upcycled designer clothing.
TheRealReal acquired the clothing directly from the brands included in the project, using ready-to-wear items that were either unsellable or damaged to make the capsule collection. The consignment shop has partnered with luxury brands before, including Gucci and Stella McCartney.
The collection was executed by Atelier & Repairs, a L.A.-based upcycling store founded by Maurizio Donadi. ReCollection features designers such as Jacquemus, A-Cold-Wall*, Simone Rocha and Balenciaga, among others.
Donadi’s signature colorful patchwork can be seen throughout the clothing, whether that’s on a flowy Balenciaga denim skirt or a Dries Van Noten shirt. Patchwork has made a comeback this past year, and, as written by Kelsey Stewart from The Zoe Report, it is equal parts stylish and sustainable because of its use of fabric scraps. Donadi specifically uses unfinished vintage quilts in his works, according to RealStyle, TheRealReal’s blog.
“Let’s put it this way, I don’t destroy. I don’t cut a quilt that’s already finished. The point of view was not to change what designers have done with the clothes that we received,” Donadi told RealStyle about his process.
Standout pieces include a houndstooth Balenciaga coat with patchwork trim and a midi Simone Rocha skirt using flower appliques from vintage 1940s and 1950s quilts.
In a sense, DIY has also gone luxury. Startups across various platforms sell upcycled luxury clothing and accessories. Because of the investment associated with these brands, most people aren’t itching to throw away their old Bottega Veneta heels or Balenciaga hoodies and then buy new ones. People are consigning them, selling them on secondhand platforms or figuring out other ways to give them new life via upcycling.
Secondhand marketplaces such as Depop, Mercari and Poshmark now have their own authentication processes, and consignment shops such as TheRealReal give the average consumer an opportunity to purchase luxury at a lower price and also make money back on their previous purchases.
TheRealReal’s ReCollection is necessary, especially in a time when legacy fashion house Burberry, among other brands, was called out for incinerating unsold merchandise to uphold exclusivity. Burberry no longer burns unsold merchandise, and the brand actually partnered with TheRealReal in the past.
Customers who consigned Burberry with TheRealReal were offered experiences at Burberry locations across the country, which included a “personal shopping experience” with high tea, according to Vogue Business.
A circular economy in fashion is important, especially for luxury fashion, which is known to have similarly damaging environmental and social impacts to fast fashion. Although most luxury brands are known for having better quality goods than their cheaper counterparts, there are still discrepancies in their supply chains.
By continuing this cycle of buying secondhand and then consigning or reselling, products can be used until they reach the end of their lifetimes. When that happens, the products can be recycled through recycling programs such as For Days or Terracycle, just to name a few.
TheRealReal’s existence as a platform, in addition to their first ReCollection, highlights the many ways clothing can be revived and reimagined for a new consumer, further promoting the appeal of sustainability.