When Louboutins come to the aid of #chennaifightscovid

Websites selling second-hand designer brands are not new to us, but they have not really picked up in India. In fact, there is emphasis on discretion when it comes to both selling your used designer clothes or accessories, or buying from a pre-owned platform.

That, among many other things, is something the COVID-19 outbreak is bound to change. And one of the drivers could be an initiative by wellness consultant Ishani Vellodi Reddy, together with Chennai-based online retail store, The ReLove Closet.

Earlier this week, Ishani, 30, packed five boxes with her dresses and blouses, shoes and sunglasses, all from luxury brands like Chanel, Christian Louboutin and Diane von Furstenberg (DVF). It took a little over five hours, and was set in motion after a phone call with Sruti Ashok of The ReLove Closet. Last evening, the first round of this closet sale was launched on the store’s Instagram page. It included a Zimmermann Nightmarch Vine playsuit at ₹5,500, along with a dozen or so blouses, dresses and shoes.

In just five hours, they raised ₹1.13 lakhs. What’s more, friends and other influencers have got in touch, wanting to participate with items from their closet as well. Their motive? All proceeds will go directly to The Kindness Project bank account, and will be utilised by the Chennai Task Force (CTF). “Chennai Task Force was formed a month ago, along with [Mahima Poddar’s] Kindness Foundation, in an effort to address the disproportionate blow delivered by the lockdown to those who already face adverse conditions,” begins Ishani. A collaborative effort with the Government, NGOs and local organisations, CTF has helped provide food, provisions and medical supplies to daily wage families in need, old age homes, shelters and volunteers over the last few weeks.

Studded white Louboutin shoes

Sharing what you love

There will be several drops this month, and while some of the blouses and jumpsuits still have their tags on, there is a buzz around a pair of white Louboutins with spikes (the French designer’s recent update of the Pigalle Follies stiletto, being auctioned at a starting bid of ₹18,000). Everything is heavily discounted. “A Diane von Furstenberg silk blouse I purchased for ₹19,000 is going for ₹5,500. A pair of beige Chanel flats, which I bought on holiday at ₹76,000 is now ₹20,000. This is not a junk drive, I am sharing things that have value to me,” states Ishani, whose mother-in-law is Preetha Reddy, vice-chairperson, Apollo Hospitals Group.

Is there a pre-booking option, I wonder. Apparently, this is not the first such enquiry. “No, there is a moral hazard to that. We wanted wider engagement. So even friends will have to wait for the drop on Instagram. Sruti, from The ReLove Closet, says that while prices begin at ₹3,000, some of the special items, like the Louboutins, will be auctioned.

There are Gucci loafers, Jimmy Choo wedges and Valentino heels. Also, a bottle green Bottega Veneta chain knot clutch that has many takers already. “I have added some Manish Malhotra and Anamika Khanna ethnic wear too, all clothes I love very much. But now when I look at them, it makes no sense to hoard. And in the process, I hope I can get more people to follow suit,’’ she says.

Pavithra Sagar, co-founder of Funky Fish

Joining in

  • Someone else who will have her edit out soon is Pavithra Sagar, co-founder of the fashion pop-up Funky Fish. “It is a fantastic idea and the perfect opportunity to do my bit for the community,” says this social influencer, who is popular for her styling videos (@stylemuze). Is she open to buying from ‘pre-loved’ platforms? “Yes, of course. Although I am trying to reduce and reuse, if I find something that catches my eye, I’ll surely go ahead and buy it. In fact, I am looking forward to seeing all the juicy stuff that’s going up on sale!”

Does Ishani sense that people are now more comfortable with the idea of pre-owned clothes? “There are extremes and some people just cannot get comfortable with it,” she admits. “I have got comments below my Instagram posts asking me, ‘Why would I want to buy your used shoes that are so dirty?’ Or ‘Unthinkable and gross’. But when you put things in context, and when people don’t have access to something they want and are also interested in contributing to the relief efforts by a purchase …this is a great moment to rethink sustainability.”

Louboutin heels

In the process, declutter

In addition to the ethical and philanthropic reasoning behind this drive, Ishani points out that the decluttering efforts at home, when trying to organise contributions, are certainly therapeutic. She agrees that the coronavirus crisis has highlighted the importance of creating ecosystems. “Even on the relief side, we have been focussing on collaboration. Which is why while technically, the funds are going into the Kindness Project bank account, they will be utilised by the Chennai Task Force. So 100% of the proceeds are going towards #chennaifightscovid through Chennai Task Force x The Kindness Foundation.”

Also, if you are wondering, her shoe size is 38.5’’!

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