Making it as a full-time reseller is as lucrative — and time intensive — as the influencer career path, and it’s anything but simple. Behind resale’s “top sellers” is grit, determination and, increasingly, a web of logistical intermediaries and marketplace platforms that power the resale industry.
WWD spoke with Nic Wilkins, a power-selling “sneakerhead,” and Laurel Preschutti, the sole owner and creative force behind “Stellar Vintage,” a top-selling Depop shop, to learn the ins and outs of the reseller community, which is rapidly expanding and adding new players.
Earlier this week, for example, Farfetch said it was entering the market with a pilot program, Farfetch Second Life. The platform is a service for customers looking to sell pre-owned luxury handbags in exchange for Farfetch credit. The move reflects a growing interest in reselling fashion goods, which is expected to reach $51 billion by 2023, according to ThredUp’s 2019 resale report.
Under the hood, logistical intermediaries and marketplace platforms intersect in a tangled web to power the complex resale industry, from both ends. Constituting both the front-facing, “peer-to-peer” selling communities and the murky waters of resale’s backend reverse supply chain, many new players are entering the space. And brands aiming to gain control over the recirculation of their used products are also looking at “reverse logistics” and “re-commerce” solution providers as well as blockchain and cryptographic technology start-ups such as Arianee for authentication and traceability.
For buyers, a frictionless and trustworthy transaction is most desired. For resellers such as Wilkins and Preschutti, it’s a full-time job. Similar to the trajectory of the resale industry itself, Wilkins and Preschutti both circumvented their respective life paths, swapped coasts (Wilkins was raised in Buffalo, N.Y., then moved to San Francisco upon the growth of his sneaker business, while Preschutti, a Bay area native, searched new beginnings in New York City) and started their businesses as a side gig in college.
Wilkins studied marketing in college, but soon found “working by yourself and for yourself,” ignited more gravitas than the paycheck of the typical entry-level marketing gig. And there are sneakers. Wilkins’ passion and livelihood are built on the sneaker resale industry, where today he brushes “power seller” territory on StockX, amassing 22 to 24 sales a day on the platform so far, growing his average sales more than 40 percent since 2018, and stepping into sneakers full time.
For full-time resellers such as Wilkins, the inflated “ease, glamour and sexiness” of selling sneakers is one of the biggest misconceptions of flipping products. (It’s not all Yeezy’s and Off-White, it’s about paying attention to your customer.)
“Flipping an item is the easiest way to make money,” said Wilkins, but the processes behind the sale — the shipping, receiving, inventory management and storage — take up time and “mental capacity.” Later, Wilkins hired a full-time friend-turned-business partner to handle all of the logistics.
While Wilkins cites accountability, organization and motivation as key, he doesn’t discount the utility and ease provided by resale marketplace platforms, which extend his selling network. Few options existed when Wilkins started flipping sneakers during the weekends in college. Today, peer-to-peer selling platforms aim to provide a more trusted transaction, through authentication and mediation.
StockX is a platform where supply and demand fuel the transaction of sneakers, streetwear and art alike, allowing Wilkins to focus more on the high value-add activities. “It’s buyers and sellers with a mediator,” Wilkins said. Between juggling product inventory, invoices, shipping and logistics, these independent resellers operate much like any retailer.
From a consumption perspective, Wilkins said his involvement in the resale industry has granted him an appreciation for the “things not everybody has.” Like any burgeoning market, “if it was easy, everyone would be doing it,” and if Wilkins’ hypothesis is correct, then 10 to 15 years from now, everyone will be.
For her part, Preschutti has gotten fit “down to a science at this point,” handling or trying on thousands of pairs of jeans since she started her resale business in 2015. Selling rare, high-end vintage Levi’s as well as designer lingerie, Preschutti serves a community with a style all her own; what she calls: “unique, romantic, quality.”
Preschutti got her start when she headed to New York City in 2013 to study fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Similar to Wilkins, Preschutti nurtured her brand while in college, and transitioned her passion into a full-time gig, where she peddles vintage denim as her sole source of income. She also has aspirations for creating her own line, anticipating romantic, summery original designs coming soon.
“I make enough to support my life and my craft in New York City, which is not an easy feat,” said Preschutti, who recently opened up a design studio giving her more freedom and “space to create.”
But marketplace platforms such as Depop lessen the pain of entrepreneurship — and product discovery, and perhaps in discovering the perfect pair of jeans, as Preschutti is concerned. As a community to “buy, sell and discover fashion from the most inspiring community of creatives in the world,” Depop’s user base surpasses 10 million.
Having the necessary education on fit, through her studies and her own fitting room trials, Preschutti works closely with customers to help them find the best size and style for their needs to develop “trust that goes both ways.”
“I know what they want because I’ve talked them through buying so much of it. They’ve received the care and attention to believe in what I send them,” reiterated Preschutti. Clienteling isn’t lost. The customers transact seamlessly with the seller, in direct messaging within a dedicated platform, offering an experience that is both high-touch and community-oriented.
“So many sellers online just want to make the sale. That’s not the case at Stellar Vintage,” added Preschutti. Repeat customers, gleaming reviews — it’s the “little things” that remind her that it’s more than just making a living. All the steps it took to deliver the perfect cut, hip-hugging silhouette and ideal inseam to the client feels — seamless.
“It’s OK that it can take time to find the perfect pair and fulfill everything my customer is looking for. It’s better for everyone when they’re pleased with the perfect style and fit,” reiterated Preschutti.
When asked how Depop helps support her business, Preschutti mentioned the advantage of built-in product discovery which unearths a “unique” selling community, wherein demand for vintage fuels much of the transactions. Features such as Depop’s “Explore Page” better showcase sellers’ goods, if they fit that day’s theme.
“Depop encourages you to find your unique style and build your brand to that aesthetic,” Preschutti said. She added that, in the past year, Depop’s platform has introduced new features to better serve the community.