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Russian shoppers are turning to grey markets to buy fashion and luxury

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

16 Jun 2022

Fashion

Image: Personal shopper via Pexels

Russian consumers are turning to grey markets for their shopping needs after sanctions have made access to local fashion and luxury labels difficult, if not impossible.

Like China’s daigou – personal shoppers who buy luxury goods abroad and resell them at home with a small markup but do so avoiding the hefty tariffs – a new breed of personal shoppers is catering to Russia’s elites.

Now that most western brands are legally required to halt or limit their Russian operations, international sanctions are affecting local populations access to goods.

Parallel system

An investigation by Panorama lifted the lid on the parallel system which since the pandemic has seen a rise in Chinese personal shoppers at privately held events in Italy where they purchase products from leading fashion and luxury houses, usually at discount. These are then sold back home with markup of 30 percent.

In recent weeks Russian shoppers have joined China’s daigou, with Russia turning a blind eye to parallel imports and third-party sellers. The Federation has waived the need for retailers importing products to have the trademark owner's permission, paving the way for a buoyant grey market.

Wildberries, a multibrand e-commerce platform in Russia, is selling brands including Zara, despite the sancations, reported Reuters. Other Inditex brands, including Pull & Bear and Massimi Dutti were also available on the platform. "We are buying goods that we sell from Wildberries without intermediaries, only directly from producers or official distributors," Wildberries said in a statement to Reuters.

Whether or not these are past seasons collections or certain distributors are continuing to sell to Russian buyers under the table, it would appear the system to acquire goods may be more challenging for Russians, but not altogether impossible.