Have you been eyeing a Sabyasachi saree or an Anamika Khanna lehenga but the retail price is a bit too much for you? Do you believe fashion needs to be more sustainable? Would you be okay buying last season’s couture or a vintage garment that is pre-loved? If so, then Saritoria, a peer-to-peer platform for buying and selling pre-owned luxury couture by South Asian (Indian and Pakistani) designers is just the online place for you.
Founded by entrepreneur Pernia Qureshi and London-based investment banker and hedge fund manager Shehlina Soomro and her husband Omar Soomro during the pandemic, Saritoria aims to introduce more people to the circular economy.
Consider this: Last year, the World Economic Forum reported that 10 per cent of the world’s total carbon emissions were thanks to the global fashion industry and that it accounted for 20 per cent of all industrial water pollution.
"What’s more, fashion is responsible for 35 per cent of microplastics in the ocean and most shockingly 85 per cent of textiles end-up on landfills or incinerated," says Shehlina Soomro. Given this situation, Soomro feels it is the right time for a "global drive to ‘build back better’".
While the trend for pre-loved fashion is just starting in India, it is a big market globally. In the US alone the market for second-hand fashion is worth $36 billion and is expected to reach $77 billion in the next five years, according to a report by ThreadUp, a California-based resale company.
A recent BCG survey of 7,000 individuals from six countries -- powered by data from Vestiaire Collective’s consumers -- uncovered deeper insights into the trend. It suggests that the global second-hand market will likely grow over the next five years by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15-20 per cent. Developed markets may see even greater gains, and some online resale players could potentially experience 100 per cent year-on-year growth. Saritoria would of course, like to be one of those players.
The venture which is self-funded as of now may look at external capital early next year to help invest in improved technology and increase market capture.
Currently, over 300 garments from 65 sellers are listed on the site from designers such as Masaba, Sabyasachi and Anamika Khanna. Pakistani designers such as Elan and Amber Gohar are also popular on the site that caters to audience in both India and abroad. It has buyers in Australia, UK, UAE, USA, Pakistan, Norway, Belgium and, of course, India.
"We chose South Asian rather than solely Indian because we want to be forward thinking and inclusive of all cultures and people in South Asia. We believe that what we have in common, including our fashion, is greater than the differences amongst us," says Soomro.
Sellers can directly list an outfit for sale on the site without any listing fees. Saritoria takes a 20 per cent commission on successful sales. Once a garment is sold, it has to be delivered to Saritoria location in Delhi, Mumbai or London within a week. The garment then goes through a quality check and post that it is delivered to the buyer. If it does not meet the authentication and quality standards, the sale does not go through.
Saritoria also offers a concierge service if the garment price is above Rs 1 lakh. A member of the team comes and inspects the garment and then lists it. For concierge services, commission is 30 per cent. Buyers also have the option of making an offer of up to 30 per cent less than the listed selling price. The seller has the option of accepting, declining or making a counteroffer. "We all love bargaining," says Soomro.
Currently sellers can list directly in India and the UK and concierge services are provided in London, Mumbai and Delhi. “The next key market for us will be North America. However, it is really important that before we try and establish in other markets we make sure everything is working smoothly in the countries we already operate in," say Soomro.
Saritoria made its first sale within minutes of going live, when an Anamika Khanna lehenga was bought by someone in Tamil Nadu while the seller was in Mumbai. “In our first couple of months sales have been increasing weekly which has been wonderful to see. We want to quickly reach over 1,000 outfits in the next couple of months. For our first year the key focus is supply, supply, supply. We’re also nearly ready to launch our app in the next couple of months,” says Soomro. The site that went live just a couple of months ago has sold around 25-30 garments in the price range of Rs 5,000 to Rs 1 lakh.
Pernia Qureshi believes that a couture is well made and lasts long, and by keeping it in rotation, Saritoria celebrates couture. "The couture you have invested good money is wasted if it just lying in your wardrobe. You can give it a new lease of life and also earn some money by selling it on Saritoria."
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