In the rapidly growing, venture capital-fueled, competitive online fashion resale space, a few OG sites have been seen as the top players, each one filling a slightly different niche. Poshmark is focused on making the buying and selling experience feel more like a social platform. The RealReal is focused on authenticating and selling luxury items. Vestiaire does the same but is based in Europe and steadily expanding in the U.S. And ThredUp was always focused on accessible, non-luxury items. Until now, that is.
In a move that threatens to lure sellers away from sites like The RealReal and Vestiaire, ThredUp has launched ThredUp Luxe (now in beta) to open up its marketplace to luxury-goods sellers and shoppers. And the company could be successful in doing so, for a couple of reasons. One is that it's offering sellers 100 percent commission on the sale price of all luxury items sent to ThredUp by Labor Day. After that, commission will still be competitive with sellers able to earn earn up to 80 percent. Typically, ThredUp offers between 5 and 80 percent depending on the list price. By comparison, The Real Real, which only buys and sells designer goods, offers between 55 and 80 percent depending.
The 100 percent offer is a way of not only encouraging sellers who use other sites to switch to ThredUp, but also of getting lots of luxe inventory on the site. "It's a marketplace, so the more inventory we can get up front the better the buying experience will be, faster," explains Karen Clark, ThredUp's head of marketing and communications.
The second point of differentiation is the ability to sell both luxe items as well as low- and mid-priced items to the same place. Luxe selling requires a special "Clean-Out Kit," but non-luxe items can be thrown in there, too. ThredUp will separate everything for you. This is naturally appealing for people whose wardrobes include a mix of designer and lower-priced pieces, which is... most people. ThredUp conducted a survey that found that, of luxury goods owners, only 15 percent of their closet is actually made up of designer goods, with less expensive pieces making up the rest. "You want [designer pieces] to be really handled with care and thoughtfully, but at the same time, all your other brands maybe you want to just clean out as quickly as possible, and there hasn't really been a way to do that and we realized ThredUp could really fill that hole," explains Clark.
The ThredUp Luxe experience is largely separate: It has its own landing page, its own team of "seasoned" authenticators, its own seller support line and its own fancy "Clean-Out Kits," as we mentioned. Also unique: Sellers have the option to set their own prices (or authenticators can suggest them), and to reclaim anything that doesn’t sell within 90 days for free.
As inventory is accumulated, items will be put up for sale at thredUP.com/designer (and, once there's enough, ThredUp's physical stores). Clark says ThredUp sees Luxe as a big opportunity: Not only are sellers with diverse wardrobes likely to be interested, but there's also a clear market for it. She notes that ThredUp sees around 60,000 searches per week on designer brands specifically, and that the higher-end items it does sell, from bridge brands like Kate Spade and Marc Jacobs, sell very quickly. "We knew there was a real demand among the ThredUp community for this designer luxury [segment] to go even higher-tier than what we have," she says.
Of course, many sellers on sites like The Real Real and Vestiare will likely remain loyal out of convenience if they're happy with their experiences. But ThredUp could make some converts out of those who have been selling non-designer goods at ThredUp and designer pieces elsewhere. Either way, the secondhand e-commerce space just got a little more interesting, and with investors still pouring money into these companies, we're eager to see who makes a big move like this next.
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