Newsflash: Consignment isn’t the only way to get value for your Chanel.
HauteTrader is the latest online platform to enter the fast-growing resale market. The web site, founded by former designer and stylist Hope-Noelle Davenport, allows luxury lovers to trade their items with fellow fashion enthusiasts. The concept offers an alternative to popular resale platforms such as The RealReal, GOAT or Poshmark. Unlike those platforms, HauteTrader allows users to maintain the overall value of their closet by trading individual items for ones of equal value — instead of selling them for a commission.
“If your goal is to make money from selling things online, that’s fabulous. But that’s not our target market,” Davenport said. “Our target market is [the woman whose] goal is not to sell things online to pay her rent, [but] to always have something fabulous and new to wear.”
It works like this: Once you become a member, you can list your closet and browse the closets of other HauteTraders. If you see something you like, you can make an offer. Your fellow HauteTrader then has the option to accept or reject your offer — as do you if, for example, someone offered to trade a pair of jeans for your Tom Ford gown.
For accepted offers, HauteTrader charges a $25 flat fee, which includes shipping and handling. That fee is raised to $50 for more premium items. Once both items have been shipped and received, HauteTrader rewards you both with currency, Haute-Points, which you can apply to future trades.
“We want people to take ownership of their closets the same way they do with their apartment in the real economy,” Davenport said. “The better your closet, the more trade offers you’re gonna get and the more trades you’re gonna make.”
The currency, explained Davenport, is part of the reason why HauteTrader’s retention rate is 95 percent. How many points a user receives depends on the value of her trade. A Louis Vuitton bag, for example, is apt to earn more Haute-Points than, say, a Tory Burch one.
HauteTrader, which is based in Hudson Yards in Manhattan, has been in beta for the past two years. It now counts 10,000 users who are primarily women, aged 28 to 49. Handbags make up the most popular category — HauteTrader only accepts handbags, shoes and clothes, not jewelry or other accessories — and the most in-demand designers are Alexander Wang, Zimmerman, Hervé Leger, Christian Louboutin, Louis Vuitton and Chanel.
“A Chanel bag is listed, she’s getting offers like hot cakes,” Davenport said. “The girls who have Chanel, they want other Chanel offers, and those are usually gonna go really fast. The best members understand fashion enough to know what’s a good offer.”
It may not be a resale platform, but HauteTrader still faces the same challenge: ensuring each luxury item is authentic. A portion of HauteTrader’s 15-person staff is dedicated solely to authentication. The platform is also built to encourage equal trades, Davenport said.
“When you list an item, it doesn’t go immediately to our site,” she explained. “There’s usually a 24-hour layover — sometimes it can be upwards of an hour, sometimes 10 minutes, it depends on who’s checking that day or how many items we have coming in.”
HauteTrader verifies that the item fits within its list of accepted designers and items, and that it corresponds with its four-tier system (the more valuable the item, the higher the tier). Once a user receives her item, she has three days to dispute the transaction if it’s not to her liking.
“The beauty of having our own closed currency system is we can compensate you,” Davenport said. “We take away that marketplace vulnerability because we can compensate you as if you paid in cash.”
Asked why she opted not to go the resale route, Davenport said she aimed to “offer a smarter solution.”
“The minute you sell something on Poshmark or The RealReal, you’re already 70 percent down many times [because] people are not going to buy it for the retail price,” she said. “We’re saying to these women, whose goal is to have something new, ‘use this marketplace and trade like for like.’ Right there, you kept your entire value and because of the rewards system, you’re expanding that value. We want to be another option, not another reseller.”
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