Second-hand Luxury Ware Craze
1 months ago, 9 Nov 09:26
There is a stereotype in the world of luxury in Kenya that most designer items are either knock-offs or stolen or they cost an arm and a leg. This has fuelled an appetite for original luxury items, but pre-owned and more affordable.
For 29 years, Jacob Mwaniki has been dressing top lawyers in Nairobi. He selects dark textured, unblemished Pierre Cardin, Marks & Spencer, Burberry, St. Michaels, George, Cedarwood suits from his bale of imported second-hand clothing, takes them to the laundry; then drops them off at the lawyers’ offices.
A new designer suit in Nairobi’s upmarket stores would cost these lawyers above Sh50,000, money they can part with anyway, but they buy from Mr Mwaniki who has a makeshift store in downtown Gikomba at Sh15,000.
“I have a customer whom I have been selling to for 15 years now. He is a lawyer. Even if the price rises, he still buys the suits,’’ the 57-year-old second-hand clothes dealer says.
Now he has loyal following of mostly young executives who prefer well-tailored, well-fitting designer suits at a bargain, but have no qualms spending over Sh70,000 on a bottle of whisky or paying serious cash for a night in a tented camp.
The billion-shilling second-hand market in designer men's suits, bags, shoes and recently watches and vintage cutlery has upset big brands eyeing a slice of luxury spending in Kenya. A majority of the middle-class still favour second-hand goods even as their disposable income rises and designer shops set up in Kenya. For instance, the Economic Survey 2018 shows Kenya brought in second-hand clothes valued at Sh13 billion last year, compared to Sh12.8 billion the previous year.
As demand for affordable luxury grows, especially from millennials who have more refined tastes than the older generation, designer labels may find it hard to ignore the second-hand luxury business that is growing fast.
Eunice Muthui loves designer handbags and she doesn’t want to have the same bag as everyone else. She carries either a Louis Vuitton, a Chanel or a Gucci. These designer bags cost anything from Sh100,000 if Ms Muthui was to buy them new, but she gets them for Sh20,000 at her regular supplier, who stocks only grade one second-hand items, which are fairly new. “When I buy second-hand, I am sure I am buying an original Louis Vuitton,” says the 29-year-old.
“I would like to once in a while invest in a brand new designer bag but people sell fakes. Why spend a lot of money on a fake?,” says Ms Muthui, who adds that living a good life is good but if you can save while at it, it is even better.
Because Ms Muthui has been buying from one supplier for a long time, they now operate on a certain level of trust and the payment plan is flexible. The second-hand sellers also appeal to lazy yet picky shoppers who do not like rummaging through heaps to pick a gently used designer item.
Georgina Bonta, a seller of pre-owned designer bags in Nairobi says to reach ...
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