The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a surprising shift in the French vintage fashion industry, forcing fashion enthusiasts to turn to online platforms for their luxury fashion needs. With boutiques closed and a third lockdown in place, online sales have become increasingly popular. Clara Vivien, a vintage fashion expert at Artcurial’s auction house, is overseeing the online sale of various Chanel jackets, shoes, and accessories.

Paris, renowned as the fashion capital of the world, has experienced a surge in the demand for vintage fashion. This trend was already on the rise due to a growing disapproval of fast fashion and increased environmental awareness. However, the pandemic has accelerated the shift towards online vintage shopping.

According to Vivien, “Vintage fashion is booming in the second-hand market. Since people can’t physically visit boutiques, they are relying on online auctions for their shopping fix.” Handbags, in particular, are selling exceptionally well. Investors in luxury brands like Chanel or Hermes are delighted to see their investments continue to grow, even during these challenging times.

In 2020, French online auctions saw a significant increase in fashion and online vintage clothing sales, surpassing pre-pandemic levels by over four times, and reaching a total of 6.2 million euros. Antoine Saulnier, an auctioneer at Gros & Delettrez, has noted that vintage fashion sales, which previously attracted around 100 online buyers, now draw five to ten times that number. Consequently, prices for certain items have also seen an upward trend.

Olivier Chatenet, a renowned stylist with a deep appreciation for vintage fashion, is no stranger to the world of vintage clothing. He has spent his youth exploring flea markets and auction houses with his father, amassing an impressive private collection of iconic pieces from designers like Ungaro, Chloe, and Sonia Rykiel. In fact, he once sold his entire Yves Saint Laurent collection, which consisted of 4,000 items.

While Chatenet strives to make wise purchases at the right prices, he confesses that the excitement of auctions often leads him to bid higher than he initially intended. “When the auction begins and you see the item, consumed by an overwhelming desire to own it, you often end up paying more than what you initially planned,” he admits.

The pandemic has undeniably impacted vintage fashion sales in France. With physical boutiques closed temporarily and online platforms experiencing a surge, vintage fashion enthusiasts have embraced this new way of shopping. As the interest in vintage continues to grow, it becomes evident that the allure of timeless fashion pieces remains as strong as ever, despite the global crisis.

Useful links:
1. The Best Vintage Shops in Paris
2. A Vintage Shopping Guide to Paris