November 27, 2022

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General Inside You

These Start-ups Are Giving Used Fashion, Gear and Home Goods a Second Shot

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Resale isn’t done growing yet.

By now, resale platforms like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, The RealReal, ThredUp, Poshmark, Vestiaire Collective, Fashionphile, Rebag and Mercari are namesakes for giving goods a new lease on life. So, too, are vintage heroes for sourcing that key statement piece — among a New Yorker’s vintage list are storied establishments like What Goes Around Comes Around, Amarcord Vintage, Beacon’s Closet, Morphew and many more.

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But what about the newcomers to pre-owned purveying? Well, those joining the fray (even if they were already on the scene before funding caught up) are bringing new elements to the experience.

Luxury resale is differentiating further into avenues of live video shopping as well as adaptive designs to meet the Gen Z and Millennial appetite in more accessible modes. Business-to-business solutions are using AI to deliver crisper efficiency along every step of the selling journey, from product listing to customized offer generation, without independent sellers having to lift a finger. Meanwhile, furniture rentals are getting a hipster facelift.

Here, WWD takes a closer look at some of the resale start-ups to watch.

Accessories: MyGemma

New York-based MyGemma launched in 2018 as a stand-alone luxury resale platform for hard luxury goods (including jewelry, diamonds, fine watches, handbags and collectible sneakers). Originating as an eBay seller not unlike Fashionphile, the business has since grown to offices in London, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

What separates MyGemma from competitors, according to chief executive officer Andrew Brown, is the company’s competitive advantage in speed. “Unlike the vast majority of lengthy, consignment models — we buy products directly from our customers in as little as 24 hours. We do not take weeks to price an item, weeks to list it, ask you to wait while we sell it on your behalf and then take weeks to pay. Our process is simple and fast: make an inquiry today and you can have the money in your bank account tomorrow.”

Brown is also willing to bet on the company’s customer feedback as a testament to its strength. “Please see our TrustPilot ratings for buying and for selling. We strive to provide a high-end experience when selling. We do not believe in pressuring, misleading or haggling our clients. As such, we rank extremely favorably within the industry.…Just because you have heard of the company doesn’t mean you’ll be glad you used them.”

MyGemma is on target to do $40 million in revenue for 2022 and is backed by Perella Weinberg Partners ABV Funds.

Adaptive Resale for Greater Inclusivity: The Vault

“Project Runway” fans will undoubtedly recognize season 18’s Nancy Volpe Beringer, who at the time, was the pathfinding oldest contestant on the show, a badge she proudly wears at age 67 now. Volpe Beringer, who is a Drexel-trained fashion designer, found a new calling on the show’s redemption series: adaptive design.

And now she’s sharing it with the resale consuming public.

“I think it all started when I was on ‘Project Runway’ designing for Tatiana McFadden. She’s actually the fastest wheelchair-using woman in the world. If I had known that I would have been intimidated,” Volpe Beringer said with a laugh during a phone interview with WWD. “When the clients came out on the runway, I knew that was why I was on ‘Project Runway.’” She secured her first win during that episode’s challenge.

After the show — as well as many trials getting her studio back in shape amid the pandemic — she started selling her own personal collection of designer pieces to make money to have an adaptive line. Her business “The Vault by Volpe Beringer” is the first-known couture adaptive luxury resale platform.

The website, Thevaultbyvolpeberinger.com, offers everything from Chanel to Pucci and is size-inclusive from XXS to XXL, with prices ranging from $50 to $7,400. A drop-down menu on each product page offers ideas for how to adapt garments at no cost. Every purchase comes with a virtual consultation and flexible turnaround times. The Vault by Volpe Beringer offers the adaptations entirely for free.

Adapted designs can take the form of shortening sleeves that could get caught in a wheelchair, cropping tops to allow room for a feeding tube, opening necklines to allow for greater range of motion, faked button closures with velcro underneath, and so on. Volpe Beringer described a myriad of ways, but contended she is still learning and creating community dialogue around what clients need from their clothes.

And she has some advice for every other brand, too.

“When I adapt things, I want it to look the same way,” said Volpe Beringer, who aims to make clothes everyone can feel empowered by. She pointed out another problematic observation, “If a man goes to buy a suit, it’s automatically assumed that they are going to have a suit altered. There’s seaming allowed there. When I go to buy a suit, it’s expected I wear it as is. That doesn’t happen when a woman has to buy a suit. Just increase your seam allowances, think about your closures, having enough hemming…building flexibility into the look.”

Resale for the Gig Economy: Flyp

Prior to cofounding Flyp, a resale selling tool that sprouted from the pandemic, James Kawas headed Mercari’s product growth and helped expand the community to 100 million members.

“You hear a lot about resale — never about the resale gig economy,” said Kawas. “I wouldn’t count the brands being interested as a real situation. It’s virtue signaling. Anyone in resale knows that. The reality is resale is being fulfilled by hundreds of thousands of everyday Americans — it’s for the people, by the people.”

That premise is what’s behind Flyp’s automated tools, which help everyday people sell goods faster. One main feature matches inventory with resellers from a variety of sources (consumers, reuse partners, platforms and businesses) and the second automates the selling process, which spans product listings, custom offers or negotiations via advance AI and machine learning. Already, the start-up counts 400,000 sellers and growing since 2020.

While anyone can take part — the process isn’t what you think. A network of Pro Sellers are the ones doing the actual work to efficiently sell goods on commission on behalf of the client. Clients include anyone with goods that are designer or name brand in very good condition. The client is matched with a Pro Seller based on the seller’s track record, pricing accuracy and other factors. From there, the client ships the goods to their Pro Seller. Flyp vets the Pro Sellers beforehand ensuring they have at least $1,000 in sales, a valid ID and active selling accounts across the major marketplaces like eBay, Poshmark, Mercari, Facebook Marketplace and more.

“All of e-commerce is so automated,” said Kawas. “You [compare that] to small resellers who are running around doing all this manual work because they don’t have access to real automation or affordable automation.”

Flyp is able to offer its services for free to clients and Pro Sellers because of its low-cost goods acquisition and automated tools. The company does, however, charge a small 5 percent commission fee to the client. With momentum strong, the start-up has plans to soon launch “pilot programs with the biggest donation companies in the U.S.”

A Scandi Take for Small Businesses: The Vintage Bar

Marie Louise Schultz is founder and creative director of The Vintage Bar, a Copenhagen-based vintage marketplace that caters to professional and private sellers. She founded the company in December 2017 in the quest of making secondhand shopping cool.

As the market caught up to resale’s prowess, the company saw an angel funding round in January and significant growth. In the last 14 months, The Vintage Bar has on-boarded more than 3,000 new sellers. In terms of product, the marketplace typically sees more than 2,000 items added to site every day.

“It’s about paying tribute to fashion, both past and present, and inspiring the next generation to see buying and selling secondhand as something just as normal as shopping firsthand,” Schultz said. “Our strategy was validated pretty quickly as our content was shown to be desired and inspiring to the young women in our target group.”

“The community is trendy and knows good quality, so of course they’re going to want a Prada or Chanel bag for example, but the same buyer might want to pair the bag with a Ganni or Saks Potts dress to complete the look,” Schultz said. “Adding premium brands to the marketplace has made it possible to purchase entire outfits, no matter the budget.”

Prada, for one, has been one of the most popular brands on The Vintage Bar, per the company’s insights, with Louis Vuitton and Hermès right up there as Y2K and late-’90s trends show no signs of slowing down. Early style icons like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears flush with colorful sunglasses, bucket hats, sequins, diamonds and kitten heels are trends to watch.

Although selling internationally, the company partners with local shipping couriers for emission-friendly shipping choices and has aims to create local pods for authentication (so goods won’t have to travel to Denmark for an authenticity check, which is an unfortunate blip, admittedly, in the sustainability pathway) as well as 100 percent recycled and recyclable packaging. The Vintage Bar also has some sustainable services in the works, like partnering with brands on unworn deadstock collections or leaning into a repair scheme.

Rental Furniture’s Funk Factor: ZZ Driggs

With rents in New York City alone up 30 percent, on average, or more in recent months, even happy renters are shifting their digs to accommodate the price hikes. Moving is expensive, but some may be turning to alternate means of furnishing their places.

ZZ Driggs is a Brooklyn, New York-based designer furniture and home goods rental platform named after a 90-year-old ZZ plant that the founder, Whitney Falk, inherited (and which is still thriving). She started the company in 2014 after a career in financial services and upholds a 50-year durability standard for everything (inventory includes local designer creations put up for rent) that comes onsite.

Decrying the short life span of furniture today, Falk said, “Furniture can and should outlive us. It’s why antiques exist, it’s why vintage furniture exists. I come from a big family and whenever an heirloom was handed down it was such a big deal,” Falk told WWD, calling the heirlooms a “silent member” of the family.

The company is growing 45 percent month over month, on average, has a funding round in queue and boasts B Corp status and upcoming fall collaborations (including signing onto Aurora James’ 15 Percent Pledge and bringing forth some special collaborations).

It wasn’t until Falk bridged connections with the Brooklyn furniture makers community that she found a model that makes sense for both makers and shoppers.

To deliver on its environmental goals, ZZ Driggs operates carbon-neutral deliveries and pickups, and delivers rentals in reusable furniture covers — typically made with deadstock denim. And true to its namesake, first-time renters get a ZZ plant in a mycelium molded planter pot.

As for what’s driving the next wave of circularity, Falk mentioned the “funk scale.”

“If you go on the ZZ site, look at the ‘Milking Stools’ by Forrest Lewinger [of Workaday Handmade]. These super sweet, charming — they look like little characters, like they come alive at night when you’re asleep. They’re funky.…We’re not sure how they’d perform [on ZZ’s funk scale, which is employee jargon referring to the uniqueness of wares], but they’re one of our most popular pieces.” The aforementioned stools come in four colorways and can be rented for $40 a month.

Live Selling Connoisseur: Luxury Promise

Though U.K.-based Luxury Promise entered the resale scene a few years ago, its latest investments show a renewed stake in luxury procurement of preloved handbags and accessories. Its twist is aided by its live selling experience.

The company’s March fundraise brought its venture funding up to $19 million (including investors like Beringea) with its revenue growing sevenfold since launch. Now clocking $30 million a year in revenue, Luxury Promise’s growth is bolstered by a unique take on live shows held across markets (Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the U.S.) and a high inventory turnover.

(Another resale competitor with a live sell add-on is Galaxy, which recently raised $7 million in funding).

“Consumers today are focused on experience-driven shopping where they are able to make intentional purchases by developing stronger connections with the products and storytelling, which is why our live shopping shows are dedicated to building a human connection with our audiences and giving them an ‘edutainment’ focused shopping experience,” said a company spokesperson. Luxury Promise’s live shows happen on its website luxurypromise.com, scheduled out akin to a trunk show or auction.

On the human resources side, the company boasts high retention in its employees. “We champion diversity and inclusivity in everything we do. We are a female-led, 70 percent [Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic] workforce. The brand identity is focused on democratizing luxury shopping and giving customers a truly global shopping experience by providing access to stock from all over the world,” the reseller shared.

Luxury Promise said every team member — from sales to operations — holds some form of experience or background in authenti
cating luxury products. “In order to ensure authenticity, every single product passes through two human authenticator checks as well as an AI tool that produces a certificate of authenticity, which we supply with each purchase.”

Another differentiator for the company is its ability for quick cash or for customers to liquidate their wardrobes with instant cash buyouts on products and ownership over inventory (as opposed to consignment models), although the company did not provide metrics on the turnaround.

As for how the company views its environmental footprint, Luxury Promise said it is committed to its mission of becoming net-zero carbon by planting five trees for every product sold, and it only uses recyclable packaging.

Launch Gallery: A Closer Look at WWD’s All-Secondhand Luxury Fashion Shoot

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