The secondhand clothing market—that’s corporatese for gently used grails—has been a boon to sustainability-minded fashion freaks, allowing consumers to grant new life to garments that might otherwise get discarded or left in that sad corner of your closet’s most tragic crevasse. But the resale market’s relationship with the luxury business is complicated: when you sell your Triple S sneakers via a third-party platform, what’s in it for Balenciaga? Nordstrom is hoping to address the situation. On January 31, the Seattle-based department chain will launch a secondhand clothing business—cheekily titled “See You Tomorrow”—online and in its New York flagship.
The products will come from Nordstrom’s return inventory—which means they’re technically unworn, the discards of "now that I'm in front of my own mirror, this doesn't make me look ripped enough for Sarah's wedding," or what have you. Yerdle, the business known for its work with Patagonia on that company’s resale business, will handle Nordstrom’s pricing and cleaning as well. The brands namechecked in the Business of Fashion story that first reported the news include hypebeastian favorites like Burberry and Off-White as well as more unhurried fare, if you will, from the likes of Thom Browne and Isabel Marant. Customers can donate their own pre-owned products in exchange for a Nordstrom gift card, a policy that differs from businesses such as the Real Real, which pays commission on any items you sell on the site, though you can also opt for store credit.
The luxury market has struggled to embrace resale, which different brands taking...unique approaches: Chanel sued the Real Real in 2018, for example, challenging its authentication process, while Burberry partnered with the business last October. Much as visual artists don’t directly benefit from the sale of their work when it’s resold at auction, many brands have found themselves left out of the equation when their wares become hot on the resale market. Supreme’s relatively low prices and scarcity all but ensured the biggest bucks would go elsewhere; meanwhile, both Yohji Yamamoto and Raf Simons’s Dior era pieces are seeing a spike in the secondhand market right now—but how do those designers feel the impact, both economically and spiritually?
Nordstrom’s See You Tomorrow reintroduces the designer back into the transaction, but it also seems to be betting that its customers won’t see these lesser-priced (though ideally no less nice!) items as somehow diminishing the appeal of its new stock, which is a frequent concern among luxury retailers. But unlike Grailed, where hype drives the market, or even the Real Real, where micro-grails can be born in real time (over the summer, everyone woman I know in fashion was hunting down Michael Kors-era Celine), See You Tomorrow will only have its own stock from which to build desire.
See You Tomorrow is planned as a six-month “experiment” (the sustainable term for “pop-up”?), though it may continue on should it be successful. Nordstrom has shown a willingness to try out ideas that push its offerings beyond that of mere department store, through quirky ideas like their Nordstrom Local outposts, which sell no clothing but offer myriad services from tuxedo rentals to manicures to alterations.
Can a successful secondhand business be built on clothing that someone thought better of buying? See you Friday!
Originally Appeared on GQ