TechHive: The 'closet-sharing' economy: Like thrift shopping without the effort

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thumbnail The 'closet-sharing' economy: Like thrift shopping without the effort
Jan 17th 2014, 11:00, by Caitlin McGarry

As we pine for the warmer days of spring, we begin to resent the sweaters, coats, and boots that have crowded our closets all winter long. But you don't need to spend a fortune to refresh your wardrobe, thanks to clothing-resale sites. Such marketplaces represent the sharing economy's latest attempt at upsetting the established order.

The practice of buying, selling, reselling, and swapping clothes has been around for thousands of years—probably ever since human beings decided to cover their shame—but in recent years it has become a bit more sophisticated. First there were online clothing swaps, then Craigslist clothing sales and eBay auctions, and now sophisticated resale sites and apps that make me wonder how people dressed themselves in the pre-21st-century dark ages.

eBay can be a lot of hassle, and resale and consignment shops give you a paltry amount for your well-loved items. Retail-based sharing-economy companies have popped up (and promptly flamed out) over the past few years, but none have burst through to the mainstream. Which site will become the breakout star, the Uber or Airbnb of clothes sharing, swapping, and selling? A few services seem poised for prime time.

Buy, sell, trade

Used merchandise is big business in the United States, with 18,000 stores selling $13 billion worth of stuff each year. But those numbers count only physical shops, not websites and apps, which aren't exactly clamoring to disclose their active-user totals or their revenue numbers. One resale app, Poshmark, this week said that it has millions of users who sold more than 1.5 million items last year.

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