US-based resale clothing app Galaxy recently announced a capital injection of US$7 million from a round led by several firms, including RGH Capital, Homebrew, Floodgate, and Banana Capital, as well as Snap Inc, owner of Snapchat. It’s easy to see why investors are interested. The peer-to-peer marketplace launched in 2021 and provides fashion influencers and sellers a platform for livestreaming commerce. Galaxy is geared towards Gen Z and enables buyers and sellers to connect directly via their
eir own live video and pre-recorded content. Livestreaming has increased exponentially in recent years, due to the rise of livestream commerce in China, social media app TikTok, and streaming platform Twitch for gaming. The format provides a more interactive, real-time experience for viewers than posting images or stories that expire. Compared with competitors Depop and Poshmark, Galaxy highlights the entertainment factor more. Galaxy founders Danny Quick, Nathan McCartney, and Brandon Brisbon told The Business of Fashion that it’s about “making the experience of the resale more enjoyable”. Shoppers can buy clothes directly from their favourite sellers and fashion influencers. The recent funding round will go towards using machine learning to enhance personalised product recommendations for shoppers. The capital will also support a hefty marketing push to onboard more sellers, including brands. Galaxy has an appealing value proposition for sellers, as it charges lower commissions per sale and sellers currently pay no fees to use the app’s livestreaming functionality. However, as Galaxy grows it will probably introduce a flat monthly fee to sellers of between US$15 and US$20. The Galaxy audience – Gen Z – is already familiar with both creating video content and buying online, having grown up with social media. And preloved clothing apps provide an easy way for Gen Zers to earn money while passing on their clothes. Thrifting has been a part of fashion culture for decades. The internet’s early marketplaces, such as eBay, catapulted secondhand clothing and accessories to a new level. This allowed new commerce models to emerge, such as Nasty Gal Vintage, which began in 2006. Back then, it was less about sustainability than finding rare and unique items from a bygone era. Fast-forward to 2022, and thrifting is still about finding unique pieces, in addition to caring for the planet and making money on the side. Reduce, reuse, resell In 2021, the global resale clothing market was valued at US$96 billion. Trading pre-loved clothing on apps is fast becoming a lifestyle young people embrace, driven by micro and macro social media trends. Recently, I posted on LinkedIn about two consumer reports, one stating that Gen Z is the most concerned about the environment and will make more earth-conscious purchase decisions. The other report shared that fast fashion brand Shein’s largest consumer group is Gen Z women motivated by price and online shopping. Together, these posts have sparked many conversations and thousands of impressions. Are reports like these conflicting or, in fact, complementary? Young people consistently buy fast fashion on platforms like Galaxy and Depop but they’re also re-selling it successfully on those apps. The impact of influencers with thousands of followers makes the trend grow even more quickly. Influencers shift consumer patterns quickly Influencers and hype can cause changes in behaviour rapidly. Many sustainability experts and organisations believe education is key to changing consumer buying habits and decreasing hyper-consumerism. But changing ingrained behaviours by educating the masses can take years. Global trends, on the other hand, can cause an immediate change in buying habits. These viral trends, largely created by influencers and hype, can reach around the world in a matter of days. While trends are fleeting, they provide the stepping stones for shifts and deliver important information such as the impact of climate change and individual consumption. Having influencers and passionate people driving knowledge from their perspective makes the conversation more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming. The same information, coming from a brand, can be one-sided and perceived as inauthentic. It is an ongoing challenge for brands to stay relevant. Tracking popular culture signals is critical, especially when your target audience is from a younger generation or you need to start appealing to a youthful cohort. This doesn’t mean creating a TikTok account because everyone is creating TikToks. It’s about gaining deep insights into an audience of digital natives who expect brands to connect with them on their level. Galaxy has hit on a timely trend of user-created raw video content. Its users are strangers buying and selling clothes and connected by common interests: expressing themselves through fashion; interacting with people they respect and admire; and keeping clothes in circulation rather than landfill. There are aspects of social media and fast fashion that paint a bleak future; however, the opportunity is in applying the elements that bring us together to enact positive change. For now, let’s focus on what is working and celebrate entrepreneurs creating new platforms, fashion influencers promoting preloved clothing, and brands adopting sustainable practices. That vision for the future suddenly looks a lot more green.