Sabrina Marshall and Sofia Bernardin built their re-commerce site RE-SEE around the idea of the piece that got away—a celebration of the important moments in fashion that are perennial references. “RE-SEE was born of this desire to create a place where you could find great pieces from the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s—or even Nicholas Ghesquiere’s debut collection at Balenciaga—something really specific,” explains Sofia. “It’s about finding these pieces again in a relevant and modern way.”
The pair is visiting New York from Paris to oversee the setup of their Madison Avenue pop-up on the store’s 4th floor. The elegantly styled space blends seamlessly with the neighboring current collections from Dries Van Noten and Proenza Schouler, which is no surprise considering that the vintage pieces from Yves Saint Laurent, Alaïa, and Tom Ford paved the way for today’s luxury ready-to-wear.
“We’re so excited about this collaboration with Barneys because both Barneys and RE-SEE look at our customers and fashion in the same way,” says Sabrina. “It’s about offering a perspective that you can’t easily find anywhere else.” Below, the two former fashion editors elaborate on that perspective and what makes RE-SEE special.
The Window: Tell us about your path to launching RE-SEE.
Sofia Bernardin: We were living in Paris and both working in fashion—Sabrina at Self Service and me at Vogue. One day over lunch, we were discussing our love of vintage and wishing there was a place online where you could shop the best of past collections without having to go on a 10-hour Internet deep dive…
So, you were both already really into vintage?
Sabrina Marshall: Yes, we were—and are—both huge vintage and second hand collectors. We thought about what to do with these amazing pieces that, while maybe not for a museum, are really special and define a moment in fashion. It was very much about how to bring these pieces back to life—styling them in a modern way with trends off the runway. We didn’t want that dusty connotation of vintage.
SB: It’s about making things wearable. Of course, we have really special pieces like this gold Chanel ensemble from the ‘90s, which is also in the Metropolitan Museum, but our whole thing is about being able to throw it on today. It’s not about having pieces in a shrine that you’re afraid to wear. I mean, Yves Saint Laurent created the concept of ready-to-wear to be worn, so that’s what we want to do—wear them!
How do you source the pieces?
SM: It started with people we knew in the industry, and it’s expanded by word of mouth. It’s all consignment and ranges from people in their twenties to eighties, so there’s a lot of perspectives, which is nice.
SB: We view ourselves as a complement to retail. We even do current stuff, like Vetements. Now, with social media adding visibility, people might buy something, get shot in it, and then they’re kind of done with it after a few wears. They can come to us and sell it, and then they reinvest in the current collections.
Are you every afraid that sources will dry up?
SM: No, it’s a cycle! Women wear 20% of their closet. They constantly buy, and they want to buy. It’s nice to know that there’s a home for their special pieces that they may be done with, but that they don’t want to throw away and shouldn’t.
SB: There’s an appreciation that our sellers have because, before our model, you either had to lug your items to a consignment store or sell on a platform online where you have to take the pictures and mail the item yourself. Also, maybe people don’t know the value or context of their pieces. We really care about where the piece comes from, and we educate people. The people who buy from us care.
How do you keep everything in such great condition?
SM: Everything is repaired and stored in plastic. It’s only ever minimal repairs though, because these are all beautiful pieces that have been kept in great condition. Also, keep in mind these designers use such great fabrics and the pieces are such high quality that it makes them resistant to aging too fast.
SB: We also like to teach people tricks about adjustments you can make to update or improve pieces, like ‘80s shoulder pads. Alternations are really in fashion right now, what with everyone modifying Levi’s, etc.
Speaking of which, do you think vintage is having more of a moment right now?
SB: It’s definitely having a moment. It’s because of the emphasis on individuality that’s come about from the Internet and social media. The fact that everyone can look like one another with all the fast fashion makes people seek that special touch. It’s no longer about that head-to-toe, in-season look. Tt’s about mix matching from the past, and then having your own statement.
SM: I think Resee is changing how people see vintage. People who might be scared to buy it because it’s too collector or too dusty see from us that it can be accessible, wearable, and priced correctly for what it is worth.
What are some of your favorite labels in the pop-up?
SB: Saint Laurent is such a reference. He started ready-to-wear and really liberated women. I think he’ll always be a reference for us, and a reference for everyone. We focus a lot on him, as well as late ‘90s and early 2000s, like Tom Ford Gucci, Prada, and Balenciaga.
Do you ever get attached to pieces before you sell them?
SB: Of course!
SM: We get really excited when stuff comes in, but then we think about our customers and how happy they’ll be. Then, of course, right when it sells we already miss it!