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Don’t want to take out a second mortgage on your house to buy that amazing Armani dress? Looking for that perfect pair of vintage sneakers to complete your wardrobe? You should probably avoid the fashion boutiques and H&M’s and try your luck on one of the many fashion resale platforms. The used fashion industry is proof that the sharing economy is still as booming as ever.
One of the startups that is doing really well in the used fashion industry is United Wardrobe. The online marketplace for used clothing was the winner of Sprout’s 25 under 25 competition (the prize for the best new young entrepreneurs), and has sold over a million euro’s worth of clothes since their launch in 2014. This startup is currently the biggest platform for second hand vintage clothing in the Benelux with over 120.000 active users.
Marketplace for clothes
Back in 2013, the founders noticed that a well organized and visually attractive online marketplace specifically tailored for clothing was missing. Some smaller websites and blogs offered vintage clothing, but the payment options were very limited and not secure. United Wardrobe does things differently: it only pays out to the seller when the clothes have been delivered to the buyer’s doorstep, insuring the users against possible cons.
As all young startups, the founders are looking to start operating abroad as well, starting in Belgium and and Germany.
Amsterdam-based The Next Closet has a similar approach to United Wardrobe, but caters specifically to women looking for affordable high-end designer fashion. The startup was founded in 2013 by Lieke Pijpers & Thalita van Ogtrop. Both had a passion for high-end fashion and sustainability, but starting an online marketplace wasn’t enough: the founders were looking for something where interaction and social media were just as important.
With The Next Closet, it’s not only possible to sell high-end authentic items, but also allows users to ‘follow’ each others closets and share items on social media. “We wanted to use our creative and online skills for a startup that would create lasting impact,” says Thalita van Ogtrop. “The Next Closet brings our passion for sustainability and commercial skills together in a brand new way”.
This year The Next Closet secured an investment of one million euro from online publisher Wayne Parker Kent, a publisher of online magazines such as Beautify and Famme. They have an audience of almost six million women, for which The Next Closet is very relevant. With the money the startups aims to grow their daily operations (with plans to sell over 3000 items a month instead of the current 300), adding designer clothes for men and children as well as working on a mobile app.
And endless wardrobe
If you’re only looking for an outfit for a specific occasion, REWEAR might fit your needs. This so-called Snappcar for designer clothes allows women to rent out their wardrobe with others, creating an endless wardrobe for everybody.
According to the founders, almost seventy percent of all women’s clothing disappears in the closet without being worn again, making used high end fashion a great new sector for the sharing economy. With that many unused clothes, the possible supply could be very big indeed, but the main challenge for the startup at this moment is to get people to actually put in the time to create a profile and an online wardrobe, including detailed descriptions and pictures. “Not everybody can take a decent picture, which can make the site look a bit messy,” founder Marloes Pomp said. Other challenges at this time include the sending, cleaning and repairing of the rented items in a short time frame.