$20,000 Pants … and Other Adventures in Men’s Luxury Resale!

Arun Gupta, the co-founder and chief executive of Grailed — which last year was acquired by the GOAT Group, which also owns the sneaker reseller Flight Club — said that sales of luxury clothing had grown year over year, thanks to increased customer education.

“The level of knowledge has gone crazy,” Mr. Gupta said. “The number of fashion brands that the average fashion person knows has probably 10x’d. Self-expression in the ’90s was your CD collection, but in the 2020s, it’s about your closet.”

Before Grailed, to the extent that there was luxury resale for men’s clothing at all, it was limited to consignment shops, like the one Ina Bernstein opened on Thompson Street in Manhattan in the early 1990s. Originally, she did not carry men’s clothing in her namesake store. Eventually, some trickled in — suits and ties, Armani and Calvin Klein, maybe a little Yohji. By the mid-1990s, she had opened a small men’s-only storefront on Mott Street. Customers were dedicated, but scant. Men weren’t quite ready. “It was very weird for them to think about trying on someone else’s clothes,” she said in a phone interview last month.

But the social conventions of male dress were on the verge of disruption. Soon, luxury houses were making more than officewear for men, and a wider swath of male consumers took an interest in expensive clothes. Ms. Bernstein’s customer base widened accordingly, she said: “It’s drastically changed. Many men who do not work in the fashion business, never went to art school. They’re just walking-down-the-street men, and they all love fashion.”

Even just a decade ago, the audience for some of the rarer men’s luxury items was almost comically small. Alex Kasavin, before opening Idol in Brooklyn in 2014, resold niche high-end men’s clothing, like Carol Christian Poell and early Rick Owens, through a showroom called the Gray Market beginning in 2012. “There was a time with those brands, for these key pieces, I would know almost every owner,” Mr. Kasavin said. “There wasn’t a whole generation that grew up on it. Now there is, and that generation has buying power.”

It also has a robust understanding of how clothing in this category holds its value. “It’s like buying stocks now,” Mr. Gupta said, adding that expensive purchases now involve less risk because of the stability of the resale market.

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