You hate that shirt. You can’t remember the last time you wore it.
But, because it’s in good condition, it’s going keep on hanging in your cupboard all the same.
You’re not alone: this is a problem Lithuanian entrepreneur Milda Mitkute once shared.
“I always had too much stuff in my closet, but felt like I had nothing to wear,” she tells Forbes.
“Some tops still had tags because I’d buy anything on sale – I’d spent 80% of my salary on clothing in one week because I wanted to look different every day.”
Mitkute realized she couldn’t keep shopping this way when she moved from her large family flat into small student accommodation – there simply wasn’t space to store her piles of unworn clothes.
So, in 2008, she started Vinted.
It’s now the largest pre-loved fashion marketplace in the world.
Today 3 million women are actively buying, selling and swapping clothes on Vinted each month.
“It’s a platform that opens all the closets in the world,” says Mitkute.
It’s fans—or ‘Vinties’ as they’re affectionately known—simply upload photos of items which can be bought and collected or shipped.
You can search by seller, brand, size, or color to find exactly what you want—whether that’s a red cocktail dress or leopard print shoes.
“Our members say using Vinted is like a treasure hunt,” notes Mitkute.
If you think this sounds a little like eBay, you’d be right. Except Vinted’s fashion focus gives it more of a community edge, says Mitkute, and it’s this “social” vibe that keeps customers coming back.
“Our girls don’t sell cars or washing machines, we’re only about fashion and style,” she explains.
“This means we feel a much stronger sense of community: even the connections we see, they’re much more like a social network than an e-commerce site.”
Business in boom
Today Vinted operates in nine countries (including the U.S., the U.K., Spain, the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland and Lithuania), with its biggest markets in Germany and France.
In its earlier years Vinted raised a total of €55 million (nearly $68 million), but the company changed strategy in 2016 to become profitable.
Advised by Thomas Plantenga (then a strategy consultant, now Vinted CEO) the platform shifted away from mandatory sales fees into a free product with the option of additional paid services (like the promotion of your closet).
The fact that Vinted is now totally free to use and doesn’t take a cut of any items you sell sets it even further apart from the eBays of the world.
Since changing the business model, monthly sales have grown by 230% with Vinted breaking even for the first time last year. And between January and December 2017, Vinted processed $360m of sales, with company revenue growing 5x to hit nearly $14 million.
This year has seen even more sales, with a January ‘run rate’ leading Mitkute to predict that Vinted will see $500,000 sales in 2018.
“The platform that can take less from users and adds more value will win,” Plantenga tells Forbes. “Being and staying the most efficient platform will be key to become the global leading player and thus is our biggest challenge.”
A Vinted future?
Culturally, Mitkute hopes that a growing rejection of fast fashion will continue to propel the company’s success.
“The clothing we have in our closets has stories, making Vinted a more meaningful way to consume,” she notes.
She even hopes to bring more male shoppers on board, embracing more unisex app design and marketing.
“Menswear naturally grows next to woman fashion, but a slower pace,” she explains. “We know, that men wear and buy fashion, so there is no reason to believe that they would not trade in secondhand as well.”
Mitkute’s on a mission “to make second hand the first choice worldwide.”
Time to clear out your cupboard?
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