Vestiaire Collective’s co-founder turned a French resale site into a global phenomenon, luxing up the concept and filling her wardrobe along the way.
French-born, London-based Fanny Moizant worked at various fashion and interiors companies before returning to university to study fashion marketing at the Institut Français de la Mode in Paris. While on maternity leave, the now mother of two came up with the idea for Vestiaire Collective. Co-founded in 2009, Moizant and her team reimagined the classic resale website concept as a luxury fashion destination. Having quickly expanded internationally, Condé Nast bought a stake in the business in 2013, which kicked off a round of funding of more than $20m (£14m).
How would you describe Vestiaire Collective?
Vestiaire Collective is an online resale marketplace dedicated to desirable premium and luxury fashion. We launched the site six years ago in 2009 and now have over 4 million members worldwide. We came up with the idea for when we spotted an opportunity in the market for a trusted social shopping site where you could buy and sell luxury products.
What was the very first item sold on the site?
The first item we sold was a Gucci bag that actually came from my closet.
I once heard Vestiaire described as the luxe eBay – how have you made resale sites luxurious?
The first element to building a more luxe resale experience is a careful curation of product. Unlike some sites we don’t accept everything that is submitted. We have a team of extremely knowledgeable curators who only select desirable pieces for inclusion on the site – on average they accept around 70% of submissions. Then we have an authenticity team who physically check every item that is sold, ensuring that we exclude the sale of counterfeit goods. Finally, the look and feel of the site gives our members an overall luxe experience. Although the products are pre-owned they are still beautiful and luxurious pieces, so it was important to us that they are displayed in a suitable environment.
One of your biggest strengths lies in this authentication of goods – how do you do this?
Once an item is sold on Vestiaire Collective it is sent to our headquarters in Paris, where every item is hand-checked in our Quality Control and Authenticity departments by teams of experts. In 2012 we signed the “Fight Against Online Counterfeiting Charter” in order to work closely with luxury brands and ensure zero tolerance to counterfeit goods.
What are the best things about running your own business?
There are so many amazing elements but what I am most proud of is having created almost 180 jobs within five countries and being surrounded by so many talents.
The Vestiaire Collective homepage
And the worst?
Being responsible for so many people. For us, failure is not an option, which is a lot of pressure. We owe every single person that is part of the Vestiaire Collective team a great success.
What is the biggest challenge facing your business at the moment?
Moving from a start-up business to a global company is tough. Business is different when you operate in more than five countries worldwide. There’s a lot to learn about the way each country works, its culture and its attitude to pre-owned [products].
Where did you get the fashion bug from?
I’ve always loved fashion and as a child my mother owned many fashion boutiques, where I used to help during the weekends and holidays. I learnt so much from watching my mother work and got involved with everything from opening new deliveries to merchandising, to being the saleswoman – I fell in love with it all. What I especially loved was being at the cross-rail of fashion and business, and learning first-hand from my mother how everything worked.
In 2013, Condé Nast and venture capital groups Balderton Capital, Ventech and Idinvest Partners kicked off a first round of investment in the company – how did this feel?
It was definitely a milestone for us. I feel really proud to have such talented and respectful investors on our side. Having Condé Nast backing us was also a huge recognition. I think it helped us gain extra credibility in the fashion industry.
What has been your career highlight so far?
I would say growing with the business. Being an entrepreneur is a learning curve. I’ve jumped from one role to another, from Paris to London, and now working globally with teams all over the world. Every day it’s almost a new challenge to overcome. I love having to constantly adapt and learn.
If you could change one thing about the fashion industry, what would it be?
Its pace. The rhythm of the collections and pre-collections is just mad. It’s difficult to keep up with this permanent fashion fix – it becomes too overwhelming for consumers but more so for designers. Of course, the resale business benefits from this, but slowing down slightly would be a breath of fresh air for everyone.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
It was definitely to be surrounded by the right talents. In business, as in life, success is never the result of only one person. Having the right people around you makes all the difference.
You are surrounded by clothes all day. Do you still enjoy shopping?
Oh yes, for sure, as much as ever. I have to apply a rule to myself of “one in one out” in my wardrobe. This means I constantly have the budget available to shop, which is necessary for me, as the temptations on Vestiaire Collective are constant.
What was the first and what was the most recent thing you bought from your site?
The most recent thing I bought was a cashmere Céline sweater that I love. The first purchase was an Isabel Marant top that I later resold.
Vintage navy blue Hermès Kelly bag
I personally search the site for old season pieces that I didn’t buy at the time – are there any pieces you are looking out for?
Yes, I’m hunting for the Céline brogues with a gold piece on the top. I am also after a small vintage navy blue Hermès Kelly bag right now.
Where are your favourite places to shop?
I barely shop physically, but I love to shop on Matchesfashion.com, Mytheresa.com and Departementfeminin.com. For my jeans I shop on Donnaida.com, the best online jeans specialist. For presents and home decoration, I shop on Frenchcolor.com, a site that two of my French friends have recently launched. For my girls, I shop on Smallable.com.
What are your current favourite brands to wear?
Céline, Acne Studios, Christopher Kane, Gianvito Rossi, Cos and J Crew.
What is the most treasured item in your wardrobe?
The Alaïa vintage pieces that my mum gave me. I have wonderful memories seeing her wearing those fantastic pieces.
If you were not working in fashion, what would you be doing?
I would have loved to pursue a career as a cook or photographer. They are two passions that I suffer from not being able to do as often as I’d like.
Who do you admire most in the industry?
Anyone who manages to find the perfect balance of vision and business. In that respect, Natalie Massenet has always been a role model.
What do you do to switch off from work?
I cook. Having my hands busy keeps my brain away from the day-to-day business, but it’s still a nice way to think quietly.
Tell us something not many people know about you.
I am a shy person, always doubting myself and fighting my timidity. My lack of confidence has become a strength, as I constantly have to overcome it. It makes me move forward.