If you’ve been wondering how you’re going to look fabulous and fashionable at upcoming holiday parties without adding to the season’s already appreciable strain on your budget, the website Tradesy might be for you. It lets you buy and sell gently-used items from your own closet online, sort of like an old-fashioned swap party where everyone’s invited.
“I saw a lot of my girlfriends, myself included, having a problem with closet overflow. We were spending a lot on clothes and not wearing them,” says Tracy DiNunzio, founder and CEO of Tradesy. In fact, according to her research, the average woman wears only 20 percent of the clothes in her closet within one year. “That seemed like a pretty big opportunity to take that other 80 percent and turn it into cash,” she adds.
DiNunzio launched Tradesy a year ago with the goal of doing just that. While the concept revolves around trading, most users trade using money – in other words, they buy and sell clothes for cash, handled via PayPal. The site, tradesy.com, features more than half a million items and has about 650,000 members.
DiNunzio says women in their 20s, 30s and 40s often experience major life transitions such as dating, marriage, career-building and children during that time period. “You can actually sell your last phase of clothes to finance your next phase,” she says. “We now have the ability to connect our closets together and treat our investment in fashion as an investment and not a sunk cost.”
“A lot of people come to buy brands like Zara and Urban Outfitters, but also designers from contemporary to the luxury side … you can save up to 90 percent off, and replenish your wardrobe without spending [much] money,” DiNunzio says. Some of the site’s current offerings include a Dolce & Gabbana suit for $530 and a raspberry Lululemon jacket for $108. Shoes, jewelry, bags and wedding dresses are also featured.
Unlike eBay and Craigslist, Tradesy focuses exclusively on fashion items, and it features a standardized process for imagery (Tradesy automatically cleans up images and adds a white background), offers pricing suggestions and mails sellers a shipping kit to make it easy to get the item on its way. The company also handles all returns and refunds, which gives extra protection to both buyers and sellers. Tradesy earns a 9 percent commission on every sale.
Gina Grider of Brentwood, Calif., started buying and selling items on the site after she realized she had a closet full of designer items from shopping in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s. “I kept thinking, ‘I work from home, I don’t need any of it,’” she says. After listing vintage Hermes scarves that sold right away, she realized her closet had a lot of potential. She’s since sold more than 100 items for between $20 and $200 each.
“I love the fashions of high-end designers, but sadly cannot afford them,” says Megan Hughes, an artist and illustrator living in in Los Angeles. Her favorite purchases include Chanel aviator sunglasses, which were marked down to $161 from their original price of $400, and a Stella & Dot necklace that retails for $120, and she bought for $44. “I’m more confident that I’ll receive a quality product from Tradesy than I would be if I bought something off eBay or Craigslist,” she says, since the company guarantees the authenticity of the products and has a generous return policy.
Last year, Lisa Schretenthaler of Manhattan Beach used the site to sell everything from shoes to maxi dresses and jeans (from designers as well as Forever 21 and H&M). “I realized it was time to do a little spring cleaning and part with a few of my ‘once loved’ items that I had not worn in awhile,” she says. She earned enough money to do most of her holiday shopping.
Grider decided on another season-appropriate purpose for the cash she’s generated through her sales of vintage items: charity.