In the past year, we as consumers have made considerable changes to the way we eat, shop and live in the name of sustainability. People are constantly on the look out for brands and businesses who provide a positive contribution to the world around us. So, what about Christmas? The festive period is all about over consumption – whether in terms of presents or food (or cheese, of course). In the name of sustainability, is it ever okay to buy someone a pre-loved item as a gift? Aqila Agha, founder of luxury resale brand PapillonKia, talks to us about sustainability and pre-loved items.
By Layla Turner
- What inspired the idea behind PapillonKia?
I have been purchasing Luxury handbags for my personal use for over 35 years. It was whilst I was on maternity leave from my role in an Investment Bank that I decided I should open my own business and it had to be an e-business as I truly believed that was the future. My priorities had changed and I couldn’t just nip out on my lunch break and buy whatever I wanted from the Gucci Store in the City, so I looked into the pre-loved luxury designer handbag market and could see this was an opportunity to develop a business around this area, as buying new was becoming less accessible in terms of price and affordability for a lot of people. In addition, there needed to be a process where sellers could sell their used items to buy new – The Circular Economy where 1 product had many users in its lifecycle. This resulted in the launch of PapillonKia in 2014.
- How do you source/ find your items?
Since the launch of PapillonKia over 7 years ago, we have established many different networks of how we source the items. This can range from business to business relationships, wholesalers and manufacturers both in Europe and the Far East.
We also have a ‘sell to us’ page on our website for the public to contact us to send information on the items they would like to sell.
- What are the main reasons for people providing you with items they no longer want?
I think that people trust us as a company at PapillonKia, and we have a really fantastic reputation. We’re also honest and transparent with each and every customer and we communicate with everyone straight away. There are many reasons why people want to sell their items to us; they could be unwanted gifts, a change in personal circumstances, wanting to buy a different bag, their item has increased in value and they want to benefit financially etc. The list is endless!
- I feel recently, people are more knowledgeable about waste and the climate, and that people are actively trying to change shopping habits. Would you agree with this?
Absolutely. There has been so much more awareness regarding sustainable fashion and the circular economy, not to mention its importance. It’s really positive that it’s an issue being talked about so regularly now – it’s been a long time coming!
- How did the company get through lockdown?
We were business as usual as we are online only. All members of staff were able to work from home and it was then left to me to physically travel to the office to package the items that had been purchased. It was such a difficult time for everybody so we’re incredibly thankful that we’re able to get back to a ‘new normality’
- What are your most popular items / brands?
Without a doubt the most popular brands we stock at PapillonKia are Chanel, Hermes, Dior, Gucci, Louis Vuitton. These brands hold their value mainly due to their in house price increases year on year, sometimes up to 4 times a year. Therefore if I purchased a bag 5 years ago for £2,000 and it now retails for £5,000, I could sell my bag for £3,500 – £4,000 depending on condition. It’s similar to the classic car trade in that way.
- Have you always been environmentally conscious?
Oh yes, without question. I’m on of 7 girls and as number 6, I was most certainly receiving all the hand me downs! Being aware of our carbon footprint and the impact our decisions have on the planet is an important issue that was certainly talked about in our household.
- What are your thoughts on fast fashion brands?
I think that these companies certainly have a corporate, social responsibility regarding who they do business with; whether that means choosing which staff they employ, suppliers they buy from, customers they sell to etc. It has been well reported that fast fashion has led to an enormous increase in waste and is incredibly detrimental to the environment. I feel that I have a responsibility to change people’s mindsets about preloved items and to keep talking about the benefits of less waste to our planet.
The conclusion? There seems to be a bit of a negative stigma attached to pre-loved items – perhaps people think they could be in bad condition, or just generally not worth spending money on. In actual fact, there can be many reasons one chooses to resell a luxury item – and brands like PapillonKia are making luxury and desirable items more accessible to everyone. For someone who loves designer, a pre-loved item would mean more than a new item of the same value, making the item of choice a very special and sustainable gift. And if someone wants to buy me a Chanel tote, I can absolutely promise I would be fine with that.