Few weeks ago, we introduced you to the start up Dress in the City. Today, throw back on our meeting with the big winner of our Look Forward Fashion Tech Awards.
Dress in the City mixes online and offline in the highly competitive second hand retail sector. Their users can buy and sell items from both the website and the pop-up stores. All items carry antitheft tags, developed by Exaqtworld. Each tag is provided with a QR code to scan on Dress in the City’s mobile app and give access to information such as the item’s brand, color, size, material and so forth. And if for some consumers a long check out can be a deal breaker, with Dress in the City, the payment is made through the app, unlocking the antitheft tag in a matter of seconds.
Turning old into new, that’s the whole second hand market concept. But how does Dress in the City stand out in that extremely competitive sector ? The answer with Antoine Leloup, co-founder of the company…
« Antoine, our jury unanimously decided to reward your initiative. How did the concept idea came to you ?
I took the command of Exaqtworld in 2015. Exaqtworld created the connected antitheft device, sold to big retailers and fashion brands. This system appeared to be a relevant way to link the physical and digital world. While working on it, I saw an opportunity to apply this technology to the growing market of second hand clothes, therefore exploiting the technology to its full potential.
The key to success is to surround with the right people… How did Florence FAURE, co-founder of Dress in the City, and yourself, met each other?
By chance: we found ourselves working together at some meeting organized by web-assoc, an association helping non-profit organizations to expand online. We got on well with each other, and shared the same vision on the project. As luck would have it: we develop the company together for 2 years now.
The digital era completely revolutionized the second hand retail sector, and new entrants popped up these last years. How do you stand out in such a competitive place?
Indeed, the sector welcomes quite a few players, but each one of them carry out its activity on only one sales channel, whether it be targeted websites with a large offer (Vestiaire Collective, Vide-dressing, etc), or traditional second-hand clothes stores. Only Dress in the City offers the perks of both physical and digital. We have a large offer of products in stock, that we check and authenticate, available in our pop-up stores as well as online (delivery upon 48h). Nevertheless, our integration remains really « physical » since our concept allows buyers to actually touch and try on items before purchasing them. This prevails a key criteria to our clients and helps to prevent any disappointment.
You partnered with Unibail Rodamco, malls heavyweight, to open your first pop-up stores. Is there a link between the competitive market you are in and your wish to innovate through this partnership?
Second hand clothes is a growing market segment. We identified RFID as an effective opportunity to freshen up this old-fashion sector. The objective is to improve both buyers and sellers’ experience, and make the job more scalable. RFID allows a much better and cheaper management than regular paper tag or bar code would.
Your concept is winning people’s heart, starting with the Look Forward Fashion Tech Awards’ jury. Some say that this consumption pattern is rather generational, what do you think? Do you witness a shift towards more eco friendly consumption habits?
We believe it to be a long-term trend. It has already revolutionized housing with AirB&B, transportation with Uber or Blablacar, music with Deezer or cinema with Netflix. This trend is striding up into the fashion industry: consumers do not expect to owe a piece forever anymore. On the contrary, they start thinking of the resale potential right from the purchase. Moreover, this trend really is in adequacy with fashion being a never ending repeat, encouraging consumers to reinvent themselves by often changing their wardrobe.
Dress in the City beginnings are rather up-and-coming. How would the concept progress within the next 5 years? Will we see Dress in the City x Unibail Rodamco stores in malls all over Europe?
Dress in the City is still at its beginnings and the potential of progression is significant, in France as well as internationally. On a short-term, we aim to expand our pop-up stores in malls (not only Unibail Rodamco ones), downtowns, and grow our services offer online, such as e-booking for example.
Nowadays, being innovative in the retail sector is not a choice anymore, but rather a requirement. In your opinion, what would the future of retail be like?
There is still room for improvement in terms of omni-channel consumer experience. It is also necessary to ensure the creation of smart marketing solutions. We should keep in mind that, regarding retail and consumer experience, only simple things work: technology should serve the client without overwhelming him. Even though Florence and I experienced a rather « digital » career path, we built the concept around the consumer experience in store, therefore respecting the fact that most consumers are still willing to try on clothes before actually buying them! »
Because they listened to consumers expectations, and placed them at the heart of their concept, Dress in the City managed to combine new technologies with consumer experience in order to differentiate. Their success questions the future of retail: technologies are always better performing and connected, yet we observe a rising desire from consumers to have a simple and efficient consumer experience. Time to go back to basics?