If you're on the market for a secondhand Chanel bag — and who isn't? — you might want to take a closer look at the fashion resale site Poshmark, which is making moves to cater more directly to the luxury discount shopper. The startup has launched a new service called Posh Concierge that provides free authentication on items over $500, a program that it's been quietly test-driving for a number of months.
It's pretty straightforward from the user's perspective: The seller will get a pre-paid shipping label to send the item to Poshmark, which promises to vet it within 24-48 hours and send it along to the buyer. To make it all happen, Poshmark employs authenticators in-house and has amassed a network of several hundred independent experts to handle specific brands and styles. Although Poshmark CEO Manish Chandra says some products can cost up to $100 to authenticate, the expenses associated with the service are covered by the 20 percent cut the site takes on each sale.
Relative to other consignment startups, Poshmark has always been notable for not focusing on luxury. It has a large selection of products from fast fashion retailers like H&M and Forever21, which isn't something a lot of other sites do. That's partly because a tank that's reselling for $8 probably didn't go for much more than that originally and partly because they take a cut of each sale. Poshmark has to be move a lot of cheap clothing for it to be worth its while.
But according to Chandra, it is worth it for the sake of becoming women's go-to for more affordable styles, because when they do go for the splurge, they're more likely to make Poshmark their site of choice. Chandra sees Poshmark as something of a mall for fashion resale, with a lot of diversity in its boutiques.
At the moment, luxury products only comprise about 10 to 15 percent of the products on the site, although it's not an insignificant number of items: 700,000 out of roughly 6 million listed. With this new service, Poshmark makes itself a little more competitive with startups like The RealReal, Rebagg and Vestiaire Collective, all of which make authenticity in designer clothing and accessories a big part of their value propositions. Ebay may be the granddaddy of online resale sites, but younger companies have come in to push the secondhand fashion experience in a much more professional direction, fast.
To drive home its investment in the luxury space, Poshmark is pitching itself on having a particularly large collection of Chanel products — something to the tune of 17,000 items from the brand. Not a bad way to start.