Jaclyn Shanfeld‘s venture into high-end fashion retail started where many women head when they’re ready to refresh their wardrobe — the consignment store. Having just quit her job at a model management firm but wanting to continue dressing stylishly in Los Angeles, she dropped off several thousand dollars worth of designer clothes at a consignment store. Several weeks later, she received a check in the mail for just $ 250.
“I literally feel taken advantage of,” she said. Shanfeld went on to try a variety of other options for resale, including eBay and Rent the Runway, but found that those options were either too expensive or inconvenient (some high-end Rent the Runway dresses can have long waits associated.)
“I came to this idea that I really just wanted to re-create what I had growing up, where I would buy a black dress from BCBG and it would be passed around and worn by ten of my girlfriends before it’s passed down to someone’s little sister,” she said. “But when your friends are grown up they have different body types and styles, and it doesn’t always work.”
So Shanfeld developed the idea of Shop Hers, which attempts to get high-end fashion to stop collecting dust in the closet and get it sold to others who might enjoy it. The company is attempting to re-create a luxury retail experience with online re-sales, and so far has impressive traction although it’s only been live about a month.
Shop Hers accepts only high-end women’s clothing (your brand must be listed on their site to sell), and the company vetts all clothing before it’s shipped out to buyers to be sure no fakes are sold. All items come with a return policy — if you buy something and find it doesn’t fit or you don’t like it, the company will refund your money and buy the item back themselves, charging just a five percent restocking fee — the seller won’t be forced to give a refund. Shanfeld said she thought it would be worth it for the company in the long run to offer a flexible policy, since women shopping online need guarantees.
Having a flexible return policy and a narrow focus on luxury brands is what’s going to set Shop Hers apart in a crowded area of fashion resale, along with the company’s effort to help women enter their exact measurements, and pair them with other sellers who size similarly. There are tons of sites doing fashion re-sale right now — Tradesy, Poshmark, Threadflip, and Twice are just a few — but none of those have the strict selling requirements that Shop Hers has.
“A lot of sites use the same thesis of luxery fashion merchandise, but then you find that it’s a lot of Gap and Forever 21 with one Louis Vuitton bag mixed in,” Shanfeld said. “That’s why we’ve spent so much of our time merchandising.”
And Shop Hers isn’t just a good idea and a website — it has the talent to back up its aspirations. Shanfeld’s creative director is Jenna Stahl, who used to manage the shopping experience on Nordstrom’s website, and her CTO is Thanh Khuu, who previously held the same role at ShoeDazzle. Shop Hers’ investors are just as notable: the company has backing from SV Angel, Ryan Steelberg, Paige Craig, Brian Lee, Jeremy Zimmer, Mike Hirshland of Resolute VC, and High Line’s Shana Fisher. Several of those, including Fisher and SV Angel’s Ron Conway, are investors in Pinterest.
The site launched in beta slightly more than a month ago, and Shanfeld said that so far, they’ve had more than 200 transactions, and every customer has gone on to buy a second item on the site — and the items are usually fairly high price points. The site was initially invite-only, but when it was working well and they were getting multitudes of emails from women asking to participate, Shanfeld said they decided to let everyone sign up.
“We decided, let the women have their Prada,” she laughed.