LONDON, United Kingdom — Carmen Busquets, founding investor in Net-a-Porter and amongst the first professional investors to see and seize the fashion e-commerce opportunity more than a decade ago, has entered the fast-growing fashion "re-commerce" space, participating alongside Mimma Viglezio, a former Gucci Group executive vice president, and others in a £200,000 round of angel investment in BuyMyWardrobe, a curated fashion resale marketplace founded by Kal Di Paola. The valuation of the company was not disclosed.
"Resale stores have always existed in every city... We are now seeing these models being translated to online stores and they are growing rapidly in countries like the USA. The time is right for a business like this in the UK," Busquets told BoF.
"I had not found anyone doing it well until Mimma [Viglezio] mentioned BuyMyWardrobe," she continued. "I looked at the figures and found the amount of money spent to date and their use of funds has been much more effective than other businesses I have seen. The team is doing a great job in analysing the data at their disposal and putting together the right action plan for further development."
"Having Carmen on board is a fantastic opportunity for me and the team to have access to the years of experience and knowledge of one the most successful digital entrepreneurs in the industry," said Di Paola.
Founded in February 2008 as a real-world "designer recycling event," BuyMyWardrobe, which also operates a physical boutique from their headquarters on London's Seymour Place, first launched online in August 2012. The site has since attracted approximately 30,000 registered users.
In recent cycles, a slew of start-ups have taken aim at the online market for vintage clothing and accessories once dominated by eBay. But seizing the opportunity is not without its challenges. To succeed, these sites must be curated enough to draw people away from eBay, but broad enough to scale. They also need to make the reselling process as frictionless as possible, while de-risking buying through product authentication, quality control and other mechanisms for building trust.
Importantly, sellers on BuyMyWardrobe, which caters to both individuals and small consignment businesses, which otherwise lack the ability to connect buyers and sellers at scale, must apply for membership before they can use the site, where they must also use their real names. "Our idea was to create trusted site with real people behind real profiles," said Di Paola.
"BuyMyWardrobe offers something additional to just a resale service. I never buy resale clothing because I don't know who the person selling it is, but if I know the women behind the wardrobes I would feel more comfortable buying it and wearing it," added Busquets.
"BuyMyWardrobe has built a community of real women to whom the customer can relate. The great thing is that the money that sellers make on the site, they often decide to re-invest in purchases from other seller’s wardrobes creating a circle of buying and selling within the community. It is financially effective and sustainable at the same time," she continued.
The company charges a commission on sales: 12 percent for business accounts; 15 percent for individuals; and 35 percent for VIP sellers, for whom BuyMyWardrobe handles the photography, uploading and sale of items.
"The new funding will be used to drive growth over the next 12 months," said Di Paola. "Initiatives will include development and implementation of an online marketing strategy to increase awareness of BuyMyWardrobe. And additional features and functionality will be added to the website to include improved navigational tools and further integration of blog content."
Read more about the growth of online fashion resale start-ups: With a Flurry of Activity, Online Vintage Heats Up.