Like Netflix for your closet: New way to swap old clothes
byNov 6th 2009 10:30AM
Has the passion waned? Lost that loving feeling? Instead of banishing your scorned clothing ("It's not you, it's me...") to the back of the closet, it may be time to 'ThredUP."
Transforming fashion flings into peer-to-peer style "swaportunities," ThredUP, a Cambridge, Mass. start-up plans to pioneer the $2 billion dollars-worth of potential they see in the used clothing market.
Touted as a fashionable blend of Netflix, StubHub and eBay, ThredUP is the brainchild of co-founders and "Chief Knitwits" James Reinhart, Oliver Lubin and Chris Homer. Reed Hastings, founder and chief executive of Netflix is an adviser to the company. Far from being fashionistas, the ivy league grads and former roomies are poised to capitalize on the convergence of trends in "green" recycling, economics and the public's ever increasing comfort with online transactions.
The new online clothing exchange, ThredUP.com has been live for five weeks and is currently in its beta stage with a small community of 6,500 beta members. In an interview with WalletPop, Reinhart says the beta members have been trading for two weeks and satisfaction ratings are posting high. He reports the amount of clothing posted for trade has also reached staggering proportions in only a few weeks.
WalletPop readers are invited to join the early adapters. When registering on the member screen, enter the code "WalletPop" and you can get started.
ThredUP users register for free and create a personal profile that includes style, color, brand and size preferences. They fill an online "closet" with a listing of clothes they want to trade. After a member orders a package of prepaid envelopes ($25 for three), ThredUP then uses a proprietary matching algorithm nicknamed, "deepthred" to pair available clothing with a user who has listed a preference for such an item.
The user will receive an email from ThredUP telling them when one of their items has found a match and where to send it. After a member has sent an item, they will be eligible to receive an item in return.
The clothing received will be equal in brand quality and value to the one sent out -- i.e. a Chanel for a Dior. You won't send out a Target T and get a Burberry tank in return. The clothes are classified into brand tiers to help ensure parity. Each trade is "reviewed" by recipients and users accumulate a personal rating. High rated members only exchange with other high rated members (and yes, you can be blacklisted!).
ThredUP asks users to abide by its Golden Rule: only send something you would be willing to receive. When in doubt, the site implores -- don't send it.
Currently, the site is only trading men's and women's shirts, but Reinhart says look for winter scarves to be added soon. Expansion will eventually include all categories and sizes of clothing, but the company plans to beta test the children's category next.
Of course, you're not always going to like what arrives on the doorstep, but Reinhart counters, how many Christmas presents have turned out the very same way? "We have so few surprises in life," Reinhart told WalletPop, "and this won't cost more than a few envelopes and something you didn't want anymore anyway."
For families that appreciate a lean toward green and the possibility of saving time and money, a little style serendipity might go a long way. Stay tuned.