Alibaba Bets On Huge China Potential For Vintage Luxury E-Commerce

A vintage Birkin bag found on 1stdibs, which hopes to attract more Chinese customers through a new Alibaba partnership. (1stdibs)

A vintage Birkin bag found on 1stdibs, which hopes to attract more Chinese customers through a new Alibaba partnership. (1stdibs)

Now that Chinese e-tail giant Alibaba dominates China’s e-commerce mass market with behemoths Taobao and Tmall, it’s moving into something slightly more niche: vintage luxury.

According to tech site Recode, the internet giant approached 1stdibs, a U.S.-based site which sells vintage luxury items through a network of retailers, to offer Series C funding. The luxury e-tailer was founded in 2001 with the goal of bringing the Paris flea market to the internet, which is certainly a high-end one—the average purchase price is $2,000, according to 1stdibs. The website offers a plethora of vintage fashion, jewelry, watches, furniture, and even fine art.

Although based in the United States, Chinese buyers are part of the website’s significant contingent of international customers, which make up one third of its total buyers. Alibaba has proposed to help 1stdibs’ efforts in Asia, where the company is eyeing a growing number of individual Chinese buyers. CEO David Rosenblatt told Recode that “in the long run, China and, by extension, Asia should be the biggest market in the world.” However, the American company’s lack of experience with Asia means that the site’s offerings come from dealers spanning the United States, Europe, and South America. “We are well capitalized, but we need the expertise and experience they bring,” said Rosenblatt of Alibaba’s new partnership with the company.

As China’s wealthy luxury shoppers become more focused on individualism, the concept of high-end vintage is slowly cropping up with the opening of new vintage boutiques and promotion of vintage car culture. Alibaba clearly sees potential for luxury vintage in China, stating that 1stdibs has “a great vision and strong sense of mission for their company.”

 

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E-Commerce, Tech