‘Every Shopper Will Be a Seller’: Tradesy Founder Tracy DiNunzio Talks Vestiaire Collective Merger

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

Tradesy
Image courtesy of Tradesy

When Tracy DiNunzio had the idea to build a secondhand high-end apparel company, she bootstrapped the business by renting out her bedroom on Airbnb and sleeping on her living room couch.

It worked. Over the past decade, Tradesy—the Los Angeles-based, peer-to-peer secondhand clothing platform that DiNunzio built—gained 7 million members and hauled more than $145 million in venture capital funding. DiNunzio reclaimed her bedroom. And last week, the company announced it would be acquired by Paris-based Vestiaire Collective, another peer-to-peer luxury clothing marketplace.


“There are a lot of companies in fashion resale, but we're not really competing with each other so much as trying to change consumer behavior and compete with retail,” DiNunzio told dot.LA.

Tradesy

Image courtesy of Tradesy

Together, Tradesy and Vestiaire Collective boast 23 million customers and a catalog of some 5 million fashion items valued at more than $1 billion. The U.S. has quickly become Vestiaire Collective’s largest market, and the company is using the Tradesy merger to lay new roots in the States—with plans for a new authentication center as well as a technology hub, both located in Los Angeles. DiNunzio will serve as CEO of the combined company’s U.S. operations. (Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.)

The acquisition feels logical given the parallels between the two companies. Both were launched in 2009 by women entrepreneurs. (Vestiaire Collective was founded by Fanny Moizant and Sophie Hersan; Moizant will serve as president of the combined company, while Vestiaire Collective chief executive Maximilian Bittner will remain CEO.). Both sought to compete in a market then dominated by eBay and brick-and-mortar consignment shops, which paid sellers a fraction of the profits they were making. And both adopted a peer-to-peer model by which users can sell and buy luxury goods through their websites.

The secondhand clothing market is expected to grow to $64 billion by 2028, according to CB Insights, driven in part by similar companies like Poshmark, The RealReal, Mercari and FarFetch. These companies are seeing rapid growth, and Tradesy and Vestiaire Collective are far from the only ones consolidating: ecommerce marketplace Etsy acquired secondhand apparel platform Depop for more than $1.6 billion last year.

But resale apps like Tradesy still have a long way to go before eclipsing retail. Buying secondhand clothing online is a less consistent experience than buying from a retailer, as even the most devoted of eBay shoppers will attest. The lack of quality control, along with unpredictable shipping and unscrupulous scammers, can make for an inconsistent experience.

On the sellers’ end, uploading photos, writing descriptions and pricing out items can quickly become a full-time job. When buyers complain about purchases—whether their claim is legitimate or not—it will usually result in a refund directly out of the seller’s wallet.

“Every shopper will be a seller in the future, but it has to be easy and it has to be seamless,” DiNunzio said. “The reason that every single person isn't selling every single thing they're no longer wearing today is because it's not easy enough yet.

As middlemen, both Vestiaire Collective and Tradesy need to be able to organize millions of unique items that are described and priced in different ways—a task as logistically challenging as it sounds. In response, the company plans to automate parts of the authentication process through its L.A. technology hub, which will complement the new authentication center in the city (Vestiaire Collective’s second authentication center in the U.S. and fifth globally).

Much like startups Rent The Runway and L.A.-based Rent-a-Romper (both of which focus on short-term apparel rentals), Tradesy and Vestiaire are part of a growing number of fashion platforms invested in the “circular economy.” The concept is rooted in offsetting the damage that “fast fashion” has had on the environment by focusing on resale, repairs and rentals.

“I think we'll see kind of a whole different concept of ownership, where everything you own is sellable whenever you're done with it,” DiNunzio said. “That seems like a better way for us to consume things, and it would naturally lead to people buying higher quality things that last so that they can resell them. And that creates less waste, less disposable products in the market and ultimately gets us closer to having commerce overall be more sustainable over the years."
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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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Inflation Reduction Act Officially Passes the Senate, Revamping Electric Vehicle Pricing

David Shultz

David Shultz is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara, California. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside and Nautilus, among other publications.

The Capitol at Sunset
Courtesy of Mike Stoll via Unsplash

Over the weekend Senate Democrats officially passed the Inflation Reduction Act in what amounts to President Biden’s biggest legislative win so far. The bill includes a host of broad-spectrum economic policy changes and completely reworks the subsidies for electric vehicle purchases. The law still has to get through the House, but this should be a much smaller hurdle.

dot.LA covered the bill in depth as it neared the goal line at the end of July, and the final iteration doesn’t change much. To recap:

1. The rebate total stays $7,500 but is broken into two $3,750 chunks tied to how much of the car and its battery are made in the US.

2. The manufacturer caps are eliminated, meaning even EV companies that have sold more than 20,000 vehicles are once again eligible.

3. Rebates will now only apply to cars priced below $55,000 and trucks/SUVs below $80,000

With the new system placing a renewed emphasis on American manufacturing and assembly, the calculus of which vehicles cost how much is still being worked out. The most comprehensive (but unofficial!) list I’ve seen has come from Reddit user u/Mad691.

In addition to the EV rebate program, the bill also includes a number of economic incentives aimed at curbing emissions and accelerating the country’s transition to electric vehicles.

There’s $20 billion earmarked for the construction of new clean vehicle manufacturing facilities and $3 billion will go help electrify the USPS delivery fleet. Another $3 billion will go to electrifying the nation’s ports. Then there’s $1 billion for zero-emission trucks and buses.

Now that the bill is about to be codified into law, VC investment in the sector might heat up in response to the new money flowing in.

“I do anticipate more climate funds standing up to invest in EV infrastructure,” says Taj Ahmad Eldridge, a partner at Include Ventures and the director at CREST an ARES Foundation initiative with JFF/WRI that aims to provide training for people in the new green economy. “However, we do see funds being a little more thoughtful on diligence and taking their time to fund the right investment.”

The sentiment seems to be shared across Southern California. ChargeNet CEO and Co-Founder Tosh Dutt says the Inflation Reduction Act “super charges” the company’s effort to build infrastructure across the country.

“This investment accelerates the transition to renewable energy and gives companies like ChargeNet Stations the confidence to expand more rapidly, especially in underserved communities,” says Dutt.

For Rivian, the bill’s passage has left would-be customers in a sort of limbo. Because many of their models will exceed the $80,000 cap for trucks and SUVs after options, customers who’ve preordered are scrambling to sign buyers’ agreements to take advantage of the current EV rebate scheme which doesn’t include price caps. As I noted in the previous article, if you buy an EV before the bill is signed, you’re eligible for the current rebate system even if the vehicle isn’t delivered until 2023. Any existing contracts under the current system will remain valid.

With the legislation seemingly on the fast track to become law, it’s unclear whether or not Rivian will expedite the purchasing process to allow customers to sign the buyers’ agreement before the new rebate program becomes the law of the land. Tick tock!

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