Garmentory, a marketplace for independent boutiques and emerging designers, has grown from 33 sellers in 2013 to more than 400 today, evenly split between retailers and makers. Inventory is exploding, since the site’s decision to focus on in-season merchandise. Prior to that, Garmentory functioned as an auction platform.
Since it encourages sartorial exploration, Garmentory is expanding its search for designers and boutiques to Dubai, Tel Aviv, Russia, Bulgaria, Australia and Lithuania, among other places. The site is launching product categories such as vintage clothing, unisex and pets, while growing lifestyle and men’s.
Adele Tetangco, Garmentory’s cofounder, said traffic on the site has grown more than 3,000 percent since 2014, while the customer base saw year-over-year growth of 300 percent last year.
Garmentory has done some retooling. It developed a strong full-price business after moving away from auctions where consumers made offers to vendors, then waited for their bids to be accepted or rejected. While some vendors continue to accept offers, the auction aspect accounts for just 10 percent of Garmentory’s total volume, said Tetangco.
“Our growth is a testament to the underserved segment,” Tetangco said. “We’re giving designers direct access and visibility.”
According to Tetangco, Garmentory rejects more designers and stores than it accepts. “I look at a store’s physical space,” she said. “A lot of them are so beautiful. I look at the brands they carry, and their aesthetics.” Some of the more recognizable brands include Ulla Johnson, Ace & Jig and Samantha Pleet.
Vendors are responsible for taking their own photography for the site. “The top 10 stores don’t use real models,” Tetangco said. “Everything is natural.” Tetangco said Garmentory’s vendor base feels like a community, adding, “A lot of stores were closed for the Women’s March in January.”
“We integrate with their e-commerce platform,” Tetangco said. “The products are drop-shipped to consumers.” Garmentory’s fee is a percentage of sales, which Tetangco wouldn’t disclose. “People have different percentages,” she said. “Designers and boutiques pay different rates.”
Garmentory doesn’t require exclusivity from designers selling on the site. “I worked in fashion with small designers,” said Tetangco, who worked for Canadian designer Dace for 10 years. “We had 70 stores and then nothing. I know what designers and boutiques need. We embrace the point of view of the boutique.”
The site has been working with trade shows such as Capsule in New York and the Line Hotel in March, where it creates designer showcases. Tetangco isn’t planning physical stores any time soon. “There’s so much still to be done online,” she said. “We’ve been doing pop-up shops, and we’ll have a limited run at Platform L.A.”
Garmentory’s shoppers, aged 25 to 44, have a median income of $75,000. “They’re very aware of fashion, but they’re more inspirational than aspirational,” Tetangco said. “We’re driven by popular culture rather than fashion trends. Consumers want to know where something is made and how it’s made. We’re telling each designer’s story.”