E‑commerce analysts with an eye on the fashion space will want to take a good look at a startup e‑marketplace with a passion for high-end sartorial panache – Material Wrld, which has just made its public debut.
The company’s name highlights its international ambitions. It’s attracted seed funding from Warby Parker and Bonobos investor Great Oaks VC, and it’s been on an impressively rapid learning curve during its beta in late 2012. There’s now a raft of new features designed to help its chic-loving fashion community to find new people to follow, new ideas and, most importantly, new styles.
While it retains a prominent New York focus, 30 per cent of Material Wrld’s traffic comes from beyond U.S. shores. That’s according to Rie Yano, who founded the marketplace with her Harvard grad school buddy Jie Zheng. Both have plenty of experience in the fashion industry — Yano worked in digital marketing for Coach, while Zheng has experience with J Crew and Ralph Lauren.
An international aim
E‑commerce managers who admire a dash of ambitious determination can only be impressed with the firm’s quest to go after an international audience. As Yano puts it:
“We’re aggressive about entering new markets because at the end of the day, a marketplace is only exciting when it’s international. More than half of eBay sales are done internationally. From the beginning, our business model has been about allowing people to discover and purchase from anywhere in the world.”
The people it’s aiming for are the higher-end fashion consumers, who can photograph and share items they have hanging in their closets and then sell them to others on the Material Wrld peer-to-peer marketplace. E‑commerce analysts worth their salt will be aware that other e‑commerce startups have tried this approach, notably the kids clothing marketplace ThredUp and others like Twice, Threadflip and Poshmark. But Material Wrld’s niche is very different — not fast fashion in the $20 — $30-an-item range but big brand quality averaging around $100 a piece.
The rest of the resale space, says Yano, is focused on “thrifting”. Material Wrld is focused on “luxury consigning.”
Amongst the site’s half a dozen new features are real-time notifications of site activity a la Facebook, along with a personalized “live feed” keeping track of the groups and closets visitors are following.