Online shopping revolutionized the retail experience when it exploded in the mid-nineties, thanks to the genesis of the World Wide Web (though, for the record, its official start is attributed to the mid-1970s when Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and teleshopping transactions began).
Since e-comm has been a part of daily life for over 25 years, another game changer leaped onto the scene in 2016 and was forever changed during the pandemic: social media shopping with platforms such as Instagram. Today, live shopping events are becoming ubiquitous on social platforms, and the most successful depend on following and inventory on offer. Enter Covet by Christos from Christos Garkinos, a 25-year Hollywood fashion fixture whose resale designer vintage feed has blossomed into a full-fledged streaming network.
FashionNetwork.com spoke to Garkinos over email as the fashion expert hosted a shopping event in London.
Today’s fashion business landscape is dotted with ideas born during the Covid-19 lockdowns. For Covet by Christos, it catapulted the idea that, until then, was a traveling vintage sale event. Bringing it to a social media platform and rebranding under Live in the Closet with Christos, aimed at a captive audience stuck at home, has to-date produced more than 3,500 hours of live programming that featured over 200,000 vintage designer items and yielded more than 2 million views across various show segments. According to Garkinos, the platform has generated $70 million in sales since launch, making it a “leading live-streaming, luxury shopping social network.”
Garkinos built his connection through gigs covering red-carpet events for Access Hollywood and The Today Show. Additionally, he appeared as a television personality on Bravo’s The Dukes of Melrose. He parlayed his notoriety into his fashion brand, Eureka by Christos Garkinos, in partnership with the HSN Network
“It gained recognition as one of their most successful collections, and I realized the potential to bring curated fashion and luxury items directly to people in various cities and towns. This idea gave birth to Covet by Christos, a traveling vintage luxury trunk show,” said Garkinos, adding that his network fueled it.
“My connections to these fabulous women started with the trunk show and pulling items from their closets to sell. I have now transitioned to the livestream model. My worldwide network continues to grow as I connect with more of these fashion connoisseurs through my shows and word of mouth from others.”
Some outstanding sales figures back up the concept’s success. One woman extravagantly purchased five Birkin bags totaling $89,799; a vintage Hermes Himalayan Kelly sold for $128,000 and an Inverse Shadow Birkin sold for $36,000; a Bearbrick Coco Chanel went for $37,900, while a Chanel necklace worn in The Devil Wears Prada sold for $10,000.
Garkinos identifies sellers and buyers through his network. Typically, a seller opens their closet with items they are ready to part with, and a show is built around that. Either the seller, Garkinos, or a third-party fashion expert can be a host. Most items have set prices, though auctions happen on occasion. The process can seem similar to a live auction, though with first-time customers registering in advance. As a product is displayed and described by the host, they comment with an item number and price, then pin the comment. Questions about items are encouraged via comments and, unlike an auction, can retract a mistake by signaling the host in comments.
“Viewers call out ‘sold’ or point me to an item to be pinned so no one else tries to buy it,” Garkinos says of the process. The audience grows daily, with an average of a few hundred viewers in each segment, though audiences have been as large as 3,000.
Industry contacts are parlayed into special episodes such as shows with Ayesha Curry featuring her beauty line Sweet July and with Sasha Charnin Morrison, a fashion editor whose resume includes gigs at Harper’s Bazaar, Allure, US Weekly, and Seventeen, among others. Morrison’s closet resembles many fashion professionals but is extra stocked with goodies from her stepmother, longtime Elle magazine editor, Jade Hobson Morrison. While Morrison sells excess fashion items through various outlets such as Housing Works and Poshmark, she retains Hobson-Morrison’s extensive collection of 1980s and 1990s Chanel jewelry for the Covet by Christos audience.
Recently, the duo hosted a special event in partnership with Los Angeles retailer Fred Segal.
“This was particularly exciting as a first-of-its-kind partnership as it is Fred Segal’s inaugural venture into the live-shopping realm.” According to Fred Segal’s website, the event will become a monthly event.
The Covet by Christos founder sees a future beyond vintage goods.
“The medium itself has unlimited growth potential – we are partnering with new vendors and brands and opening up new shopping categories from beauty and wellness to home decor,” he said.
For now, fashion is the main focus. Garkinos recently hosted a live event in London with 100 top clients for a weekend of private shopping at stores such as Harrod’s, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, and destinations such as Sloane Street; cultural events such as the Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto Exhibition at the V&A Museum; and dining experiences at Apollo’s Muse in Bacchanalia and Harrods Prada Café, among others. With post-pandemic events still in full swing, the affair brings the live experience full circle.
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