Though the pandemic’s arrival last year decimated demand for virtually any new goods beyond lockdown loungewear, shelter-in-place snacks and nesting essentials, Covid-19 might very well be remembered for reigniting the consumer appetite for secondhand style.
Data shows the resale market was booming prior to the coronavirus outbreak, but ThredUp’s 2020 state of the sector report said the pandemic was likely to turbocharge a “shift to thrift.” Indeed, the recommerce guru behind Levi’s and Patagonia’s secondhand platforms just recruited a Google executive, underscoring the pre-owned market’s tantalizing potential. Plus, consumers are newly awakened to the impact of their fashion choices on a planet running out of time. And ThredUp, along with resale peer Poshmark, capped off a tumultuous year by filing to take itself public, driven by a growing hunger to fuel a circular future.
And now, Reflaunt has raised $2.7 million to scale its resale-as-a-service offering. Announced Wednesday, the pre-Series A funding will aid the British startup’s mission to help global fashion firms abandon the traditional take-make-dispose business model and embrace circularity by prolonging an item’s lifetime. The round was led by the investment arm of luxury distributor MadaLuxe Group, with participation from former Jimmy Choo CEO and Coty senior advisor Pierre Denis, as well as Nicolaj Reffstrup, Ganni founder and former CEO. Textile Innovation Fund, Piquadro, Bluebell Group and Fashion For Good, the sustainable fashion accelerator, invested as well.
“Reducing the detrimental impact the fashion industry is having on our world requires a holistic approach to responsible behavior,” Reffstrup said of Reflaunt’s “disruptive proposition,” which gives consumers an avenue to seamlessly resell or recycle their past purchases directly on a brand’s e-commerce platform.
“Just replacing conventional fabric with organic alternatives does not go far enough,” he added. “We also need to consider how our products are consumed and treated post-consumption. With its innovative solution to garment lifetime extension, Reflaunt will be a leading contributor in our effort to overcome the challenges our industry faces.”
Even as resale marketplaces like ThredUp, Poshmark, The RealReal and Vestiaire Collective have thrived, some brands are hesitant to relinquish control of their image. Used by fashion brands including Ba&sh, Reflaunt claims its technology helps brands boost not only sales but also customer retention rates, while unlocking powerful insights on how their resale products actually perform.
It’s hardly a secret that “sustainability is both a societal and business imperative,” said Sandy Sholl, who co-founded MadaLuxe Group and also serves as executive chair. “We’re confident that our investment in Reflaunt will deliver a significant impact culturally and socially.”
Fashion items listed for resale through Reflaunt’s technology are exposed to 30 million potential purchasers on 20 marketplaces across North America, Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Australia. What’s more, Reflaunt says this approach to recommerce mitigates counterfeits, as the products are sourced and traced through brands that have confirmed their legitimacy.
An existing Reflaunt seed investor, The Mills Fabrica innovation platform augmented its stake in the startup, which also drew seed funding from Yellow Octopus Group, Balenciaga CEO Cédric Charbit and Swarovski creative director Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert. Reflaunt says the new investment will help recruit technology and business development talent.