Local fashion start-up hopes to make buying and selling second-hand clothes cool again

Local fashion start-up hopes to make buying and selling second-hand clothes cool again

Are you one of those who balk at the idea of owning or buying second-hand items?

You're probably not alone.

However, it seems like more women in Singapore are warming up to the idea of purchasing their clothes at a bargain - even if it means buying pre-owned ones - with flea markets popping up all over the island.

Ladies, let's be real. We know that our love for shopping is the very reason why our wardrobes are bursting. No matter how busy we get, we always manage to find time to shop.

Of course, we could make space by donating old clothes or selling them off. But here's the real issue: Is there a more convenient way of getting this done?

Enter local fashion start-up, Refash.

This fashion retailer and reseller has quietly been turning things up a notch in Singapore's fashion scene with the way they are promoting the sale of second-hand clothes.

Here's the lowdown on local fashion's new kid on the block:

Why Refash?

Refash is the brainchild of four men - chief executive Mr Aloysius Sng, 28; chief marketing officer Mr Stephen Chong, 29; chief operating officer Mr Shawn Cheo, 28; and business development director Mr Bryant Poh, 29 - who have had experience in the fashion industry as well as organising flea markets.

Sick of hearing their girlfriends complain of "not having anything to wear" despite their full wardrobes, these men decided to take things into their own hands and Refash was born.

"We want to think it's possible to inspire a new generation of consumers to always think second-hand first," Mr Sng told AsiaOne in an interview.

He added that the current way to shop second-hand fashion in Singapore is a "terrible experience" but believes that his team has come up with a fresher way to buy and sell second-hand items with Refash.

"The better way is to take the hassle out of selling and help people to sell without lifting a finger," Mr Sng said.

Barely six months old, Refash has earned an estimated $250,000 in revenue and also successfully cashed out at least $150,000 to sellers.

What exactly does Refash mean?

Instead of going directly to retail stores to find new buys, shoppers can turn to Refash to see if it has what they need.

Mr Sng explained: "This is called 'refashioning'. It's a new type of fashion trend where you can spot a different outfit everyday without burning a hole in your pocket."

Refash's City Plaza flagship store

The people behind Refash also hope to change the way people take ownership of their clothes.

Rather than having shoppers think that they will hold on to their clothes forever, they hope for more people to shop with the 'refashioning' concept in mind.

"We'll help you connect your clothes to another woman's closet and get paid at the same time. That's our vision," Mr Sng shared.

"If we can connect you to other like-minded women who share the same fashion sense, it's like shopping from everyone else's closets."

How does Refash work?

All you need to do is pack all your unwanted clothes that you think deserve new owners and set them aside to be picked up by a courier arranged by Refash.

Yes, you no longer need to sweat it out at a flea market while hoping your clothes will be given a second chance (literally) at new life.

A seller just has to create an account on Refash's website and use it to check which of her items are ready to be sold. She can also find out when each item was sold as well as the price it was sold at.

Most importantly, sellers will be able to check how much sales they've made by checking the balance in their Refash wallet.

What brands are carried on Refash?

While they used to carry no-name brands, Refash has moved on to accept popular fast fashion brands like Zara and H&M as well as homegrown labels such as Love, Bonito and MDS.

Mr Chong said: "At the start, we didn't have preferred brands. For the first 4 to 6 months, we observed which brands were in high demand and listed about 40 to 60 brands we wanted based on these statistics."

However, that's not to say Refash will not accept lesser known labels at all. If your item is in excellent condition, it will be sold at their physical stores (City Plaza, The Cathay, POMO) instead of the online store.

How are my clothes priced?

You can choose to let Refash know how much you want your items to go for, or let them do all the work for you.

However, if your price deviates from Refash's recommended price by more or less than $5, you will be advised to adjust your price accordingly.

"90 per cent of sellers leave the pricing to us. We usually set the prices at about 45 to 70 per cent off the original price," Mr Chong said.

Typically, the average price per item is between $12 to $15. On average, Mr Sng said sellers can make a minimum of $350 per month. That equates to about 30 items sold on a monthly basis.

When will I get paid?

Rather than worry about not getting your payment upfront, think about how you don't have to pay anything and leave everything to the people at Refash. Their business is based on a "pay as you sell" model and it seems to be working to their advantage so far.

Refash payout scheme: "We are empowering our sellers to be able to decide when they want to receive payments... At the same time, we want to reward sellers who are accumulating more and selling more with us." - Mr Sng

There are more than 500 active sellers on Refash's platform now, according to Mr Sng. On top of that, they have a long waiting list of at least 600 people. The founders admitted that it's "hard to answer to that kind of demand" but they are using their physical stores to accommodate more sellers.

What happens if my items aren't sold?

Each seller will get at least 3 months to sell their stuff. At the end of 90 days, you'll have the option of collecting your clothes back or Refash will donate them to non-profit organisations like MINDS or Radion International (which exports clothes within Singapore to the poor overseas) on your behalf.

Mr Sng also explained that his team works with a very robust pricing model such that if an item was initially priced at $90, the price will be reduced to about $70 after one month and down to $50 as its final sale.

It's safe to say that the guys behind Refash are on their way to re-inventing how to buy and sell second-hand fast-fashion women's clothes with their online platform.

As the old adage goes: One man's trash is another man's treasure.

What appeals to us most about Refash? No more awkward meet-ups with potential buyers at MRT stations.


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