Some travelers paid extra for the privilege of bringing more loot. Larry Evaristo and girlfriend Roxanne Vega each paid a $25 surcharge to check bags heavier than 50 pounds on their Northwest Airlines flight to Guam.Evaristo, 23, a student at San Jose State University, brought a Hewlett-Packard computer, chocolates, coffee and American Eagle clothes, a brand unavailable in Guam.”That makes it cooler, especially to the other kids,” he said. “They want logo tees showing that it’s made by American Eagle. Even though it’s made in factories on neighboring islands.”Secondhand shopping is in the throes of a tech-driven seismic shift, one that is quickly making the gently worn and just-like-new not simply equal in stature to off-the-rack items, but arguably more desirable. How much more would you want that Prada purse or perfect vintage fedora if it were from the closet of your favorite fashion blogger or among favorite items selected by a stylist to A-list stars?
At the same time, fashion-minded startups are pursuing new ways to connect buyers and sellers online in a space that’s been stagnant for years.”EBay today looks frighteningly similar to eBay in 1999, and Craigslist looks like a newsgroup,” says Jim Rose, co-founder of San Francisco’s Copious, an online marketplace with a Pinterest-style layout that matches shoppers with new and used items based on trends and people they follow.Recently tapping fashion bloggers such as Man Repeller and Because I’m Addicted to sell their preloved clothing and accessories through its platform, Copious is just one example of secondhand style’s new look. The RealReal, Poshmark and Threadflip are also turning secondhand fashion into an evermore stylish, entertaining and increasingly social pursuit.An unmarked unit in a nondescript office park 13 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge seems an unlikely place to find a $17,500 Hermès Birkin bag or a rack of Chanel items the length of a Google shuttle bus.
But that’s what’s inside the filled-to-the-gills offices of the RealReal, a website selling pre-owned luxury women’s apparel and accessories through 72-hour flash sales.”We literally have some of the wealthiest women in the world’s clothing coming in here,” says co-founder and CEO Julie Wainwright, once the chief executive of Pets.com, an Amazon-backed company whose demise became the stuff of bust-era legend.Launched in June, the RealReal accepts designer labels, often sent by way of high-profile stylists on behalf of anonymous celebrity clients. In a 2.0 version of the traditional consignment model, the company then inspects, photographs, prices and lists items in exchange for a 40 percent cut of the sale.”We have a different twist on an old business,” Wainwright says.