Luxe brands can no longer afford to ignore grey market

Big discounts on such sites may bring in big money for high fashion, but at a high cost

Most luxury brands are acutely aware of the gradual thinning of the veneer of exclusivity that they have worked hard to establish.
Most luxury brands are acutely aware of the gradual thinning of the veneer of exclusivity that they have worked hard to establish.PHOTO: REUTERS

(NYTIMES) - Imagine you are hunting online for a pair of square-toed slides from Bottega Veneta, one of the most-hyped luxury brands now. A new season pair can cost over US$550 (S$737) from the brand's website, an old-guard department store like Neiman Marcus or an e-commerce player like Net-a-Porter.

But what if you chose to buy from Cettire, a website offering discounts of up to 30 per cent on the latest fashion styles? You would be a player in the multibillion-dollar luxury "grey" market, a fast-growing sales sector that has historically operated out of sight of most Western consumers.

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