The ‘pre-loved’ market is booming and Re-SEE is at the top of it's game, truffling out old treasures as modern wardrobe gems. Co-founder Sofia Bernardin talks authentication, styling and discovering future collectibles.
"How would you wear it today? Everything starts from there," says Sofia Bernardin, co-founder of online vintage emporium Re-SEE. Founded in Paris in 2013, Re-SEE's mission is to change the way we view vintage, and it's all in the curation. Think Hermès bags from the ‘60s through to the ‘90s, when the quality of the leather and hardware was at its finest; Karl Lagerfeld's ‘90s-era Chanel; and Phoebe Philo's Céline - timeless, cherry-on-top items, authenticated, restored and restyled in a contemporary way. Behind this treasure trove is an expert team led by Sofia and her co-founder Sabrina Marshall, who are providing Luminaire clients with an exclusive Closet Evaluation service, including product valuation and identifying key pieces to invest in.
@resee // Instagram
What led you to founding Re-SEE?
My partner, Sabrina Marshall, and I both come from fashion — Sabrina from Self Service Magazine and myself from American Vogue. Great fashion has always been part of our dialogue and one day, over lunch in Paris, we were talking about memorable runway collections and how wonderful it would be if we could find great pieces again in a trusted, curated environment.
How do you ensure that the edit is to the very best of vintage fashion?
Curation and Authentication are the cornerstone of Re-SEE. Every piece has to be special, whether because of its provenance, its craftsmanship, or because it represents a special moment in fashion or culture. True luxury is about experience and bringing these types of pieces back onto the market, sharing their stories is a remarkable journey that is often overlooked amidst the rapid turnaround of trends today.
What have been your most thrilling discoveries?
We recently sold pieces from the collection of Catherine Deneuve. That was quite remarkable because they weren’t vintage but rather items from recent current collections that she had worn, loved and was ready to let go of — including standouts from the Prada car-inspired collection, and Saint Laurent gowns she had worn on the red carpet. Every piece had a story and like many women, she was very excited to participate in the circularity movement.
Are there particular brands and decades that you specialise in and why?
We are very focused on Hermès bags, mostly from the ‘60s through to the ‘90s. These are our favourite years at Hermès as the quality of the leather and hardware was especially exquisite. Chanel, from all eras, but especially the ‘90s when Karl Lagerfeld was taking so much inspiration from the streets - he was a real pioneer in his outward inspiration. Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche because there is not one designer who was as modern as M. Saint Laurent. Almost every piece in his Rive Gauche collections can be worn today without looking retro. Céline by Phoebe Philo — she is the Chanel of our time. And Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquière.
Velvet and organza heels
@resee // Instagram
Re-SEE “La Pluie sans Parapluie” rain bag
@resee // Instagram
What are the future collectibles?
Probably Demna at Balenciaga. No one has come through and changed the dialogue quite as he has, and completely changed silhouettes with those bold shoulders and couture waists. These seismic moments become cemented in fashion history.
Authentication is crucial, particularly with bags. How does this work within Re-SEE ?
Unlike other platform models, every piece passes through our hands before going online. Our luxury bag expert Laurie Mestchersky and her team carefully inspect every design before it is listed on the site. We work with some of the world’s most exclusive collectors, which ensures the provenance of pieces that is unmatched on any other resale website.
How do you reimagine pre-loved for today?
We never want to copy a look of the past. Style changes, women’s needs evolve and we are always very conscious of that. Whenever we get in a piece, our first question is, how would you wear it today? Everything starts from there.
What are your personal vintage treasures?
I have a collection of ‘90s Alaïa that is very dear to me. From the 1991 Leopard collection, to Mon Coeur est à Papa and Tati pieces. I wore Alaia during each of my four pregnancies (the stretch really went the extra mile) and they made me feel beautiful and elegant. M. Alaïa was truly a genius.
How do you create a seamless vintage/new look?
Mix and match. Vintage isn’t about looking like a caricature of a bygone time, it’s about finding something of exquisite quality and pairing it with everyday wear. Few want to wear a full Chanel skirt suit but taking that vintage jacket, with a cut that’s so hard to find in retail today, and wearing it with jeans and a t-shirt is elegance non pareil.