An innovative online retail format has the potential to solve two problems at once: what to do with old clothing, and how to refresh a wardrobe without breaking the bank. In the spirit of the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” online vintage marketplaces are leveraging the convenience of the internet to facilitate the exchange of clothing in a way that maximizes value for everyone involved.
In contrast to brick-and-mortar consignment shops, online marketplaces transfer the burden of interacting with the customer to the seller. They serve as a platform, tailored to clothing, through which buyers and sellers can deal directly with one another. While they may offer some ground rules and dispute resolution services, the business of retailing is primarily left to the individual.
As internet entities, online marketplaces boast lower fixed costs than traditional consignment shops. That, plus the fact that it costs them virtually nothing to sell each item, allows the sites to charge sellers vastly lower commission fees – usually 5 to 20 percent – without sacrificing profit. Lower commission fees snowball into better value for both buyers and sellers. Receiving a larger cut of revenue, sellers may pass some of their savings on to the buyer by charging a lower price.
In 1995, eBay revolutionized the shopping universe. Today, online vintage clothing marketplaces are revolutionizing the individual approach to the fashion retail world. Here are a few of the best places transforming the business.
Founding date: 2009 | Location: London, UK | Buyer fees: shipping cost determined by seller | Seller fees: none | Common brands include: American Eagle, Banana Republic, Abercrombie & Fitch, Armani Exchange, Steve Madden, BCBG
At Get My Closet, one of the first players on the scene, members can find people with similar tastes by joining trend groups such as “Dressaholic” or “Man Up!” Although its users are not the most active on the web, Get My Closet hosts close to 500 product listings. Most listings do not indicate the brand of the garment, though several are American designers.
Founding date: 2010 | Location: London, UK | Buyer fees: shipping cost determined by seller | Seller fees: 10% commission fee | Common brands include: ASOS, H&M, Zara, Topshop, Nike, Diesel, Topman
Presented by the UK’s largest online-only retailer, ASOS.com, ASOS Marketplace caters to an international audience. It boasts a sleek, modern layout and strict garment photography guidelines that enhance the shopping experience for buyers. If shoppers see an item they like but are not prepared to pay the asking price, they can try their luck offering a lower bid to the seller. In addition to individual sellers, ASOS Marketplace features professionally-run virtual boutiques.
Founding date: 2011 | Location: San Francisco, CA | Buyer fees: $7 shipping fee | Seller fees: 20% commission/processing fee | Common brands include: Forever 21, Target, Nine West, DV by Dolce Vita, Burberry, Diane Von Furstenberg
On Threadflip’s clean, easy-to-use website, shoppers can browse clothing categories or a feed page that displays recently-added products. Threadflip’s fees are higher than their competitors, but the site creates a unique social shopping experience by allowing users to connect with others as “friends.” This past April, Threadflip launched its White Glove service, which functions like a traditional consignment shop—with retailing services and a 40 percent commission fee—except that the goods are sold on Threadflip.com rather than in a physical store.
Founding date: 2011 | Location: San Francisco, CA | Buyer fees: shipping cost determined by seller | Seller fees: $1 selling fee + 5% commission fee | Common brands include: Target, J.Crew, Alice and Olivia, Calypso St. Barth, BCBG
The members-only marketplace Closet Groupie was founded because “some of the best clothes in the world are hanging in your closets, not in stores.” Users can browse through well laid-out feeds of items for women, children, and infants. The site also allows users to “follow” other closets, review other closets, and comment on individual products.
Founding date: 2012 | Location: Century City, CA | Buyer Fees: shipping cost determined by seller | Seller Fees: $0.20 listing fee + 7% commission/processing fee + 2.5% processing fee to cash out less than $100 | Common brands include: Henry & Belle, Vintage Havana, Earnest Sewn, Torn by Ronny Kobo, Vince Camuto
With Rachel Zoe as a founding investor, 23rd.com is off to a hopeful start as one of the newest online clothing marketplaces. Like ASOS Marketplace, it includes items from both individual sellers and virtual boutiques. The sleek, members-only site offers advanced search features and organization of items into several categories that make finding what users want simple. 23rd.com tips its hat to the price-sensitive customer with clear percentage savings labels on each item and a “price alert” feature. Plus, everything sold on 23rd.com is “Best Price Guaranteed,” which means that merchants promise they are not selling any of their products at a lower price anywhere else.
Founding date: 2012 | Location: New York, NY
Wiseling launched in private beta this June. Founded by a former architecture student and real estate development career woman, it aims to fill a niche position in the market as an online second-hand clothing marketplace that specializes in high-quality fashion. It will feature advanced search filters and, eventually, a system to match users with people of similar clothing styles and body types. The company hopes that because people may be able to recover some of the cost of their used clothing on Wiseling, Wiseling will drive people to purchase new clothing of higher quality in the first place.