In a world of fast fashion and furniture, many people extend the life of well-made items.
It used to be that antiques were all about attending fairs, rummaging through stores and going to auctions. While the thrill of the hunt was great for some, it was a tedious way to find some truly standout pieces to suit one’s style.
Today, fast-growing online businesses such as Chairish and 1stDibs feature a carefully curated selection of furniture and home decor. Searching by theme, period, place of origin, style or various other criteria allows you to quickly focus on the right pieces. These offers not only include antiques (made over 100 years ago) and vintage items (made 30-100 years ago), but also high-end contemporary items.
These websites have seen significant growth over the past couple of years. Sales of Chairish rose 60% in 2020 as people stayed home under lockdown measures and reconsidered their interior design. 1stDibs saw a 31% increase in sales in 2021. Kaiyo, a similar website, has grown 150% to 200% every month year-over-year for the past two years.
“We are very selective about the items we accept in our marketplace. Conservation has been integral to our success,” said Noel Fahden, vice president of merchandising for Chairish. “Chairish’s success has been driven by two seismic shifts rocking the furniture industry: buyers’ shift to e-commerce and re-commerce.”
The rise of e-commerce and re-commerce
U.S. e-commerce jumped about 32% in the fourth quarter of 2020, year-over-year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Much of this is attributed to the closure of physical stores and consumer aversion to them during the pandemic.
Recommerce, or the circular economy, is the buying and selling of second-hand items. It has the potential to keep much of the United States’ 12 million tons of furniture waste and 17 million tons of textile waste from entering landfills each year.
“Not only are vintage pieces of furniture loved for their chic and unique style, they’re also increasingly valued for their ready availability and durability,” Fahden said. “Right now, due to supply chain chaos, newly manufactured furniture can take up to six months or more to arrive at your doorstep. Presidential vintage items are ready to ship. Recommerce items, by definition, are in stock.
Similarly, in its 2021 report, Kaiyo boasted of its ability to deliver goods to buyers in an average of two to five days, compared to 14 to 16 weeks for furniture manufacturers.
Shipping direct from seller to buyer typically consumes less fuel than buying new, says Chairish in its 2021 resale report. New goods are often transported from the manufacturer to a port, shipped overseas, brought to a warehouse, then to a retail store, then to a consumer.
“The pandemic has helped spark additional interest in the circular economy as an approach to sustainability, due to the online pivot for work and shopping, supply chain issues and public pressure , consumers and stakeholders,” Nancy Landrum, professor of sustainability management at Loyola University, said.
Landrum cites new laws and government initiatives that have also boosted the circular economy. For example, since this year, France has banned branded clothing and luxury goods companies from destroying unsold products.
“Younger consumers — Gen X, Gen Z, millennials — have always been seen as the most concerned about sustainability,” she said. “But recent research has shown a change, with ‘baby boomers’ becoming more worried. Baby boomers are in a stronger financial position to vote with their money.
1stDibs asked designers which trends would be popular in 2022 and said that “almost all designers selected sustainable materials (nearly universal at 97%)”.
A community and place for entrepreneurs
On the fashion Aside, websites such as Poshmark have also flourished as people seek to eliminate waste from fast fashion.
Poshmark has tapped into the satisfaction that comes from social media engagement, and shoppers interact with sellers and browse their “closets.” This is another form of curation; it’s like following a fashion blogger and literally buying clothes from their closet. Chairish also has tastemaker choices as a form of curation.
“Consumers love our unique social experience,” said Amber McCasland, vice president of global brand and communications at Poshmark. “The Poshmark community is a place where sellers help other sellers, and buyers enjoy a more human e-commerce experience with a personal touch.” Poshmark hosts in-person networking events and encourages sellers to help each other by sharing their know-how.
Resale websites rely on wooing sellers to bring their desirable items. These sites host many small entrepreneurs.
Poshmark has grown steadily in the US and Canada for 10 years and is now expanding into India. McCasland referenced the report Unlocking the Future of Commerce in India, which states, “Social commerce has the capacity to empower over 40 million small entrepreneurs across India. Today, 85% of sellers using social commerce are small, offline-oriented retailers who have discovered that social channels open up new avenues for growth. »
“People love supporting other small sellers and businesses in our social marketplace,” McCasland said.
The reliability of products listed on Poshmark, Chairish, and 1stDibs can be far superior to that of resale sites such as Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and eBay. Facebook Marketplace is awash with locally available items, which are featured with amateur photography, often sell for ultra low prices, and vary in quality. On the other hand, the aforementioned websites offer a professional presentation, big-ticket warranties, appraisals, and other services.
For example, Poshmark authenticates every item priced over $500 and has safeguards in place to ensure that sellers accurately describe the terms of their wares.
The most successful brands on furniture resale sites have stood the test of time for both style and quality. Some of the popular brands on Chairish are Roche Bobois, Baker Furniture, George Smith and Scalamandré.
Kaiyo reports that many brands rose in value in 2021, including Drexel Heritage, Design Within Reach, Herman Miller and Ethan Allen. Knoll chairs were worth 34% more in 2021 than in 2020.
Custom pieces are also coveted. The item that caught Kaiyo’s most attention last year was a custom-made Scandinavian-style six-drawer dresser.
Summarizing the trends seen over Poshmark’s history, McCasland said, “Over the past 10 years, we have witnessed the widespread adoption of e-commerce, the growing importance of peer-to-peer resale and an emphasis on sustainability.
Although the circular economy has been boosted over the past two years due to temporary factors such as lockdown measures, Chairish’s resale report found that 70% of shoppers plan to continue buying second-hand goods online in the years to come.