It turns out the fashion industry is quite a wasteful industry, contributing an estimated 13 million tons of textile to landfills per year.
One of the ways some startups have helped is making the resale of clothing easier by moving it online. However, Emily Gittins and Ryan Rowe, co-founders of Archive, saw some clothing brands being left out of the action. They launched their company in February 2021 to not only decrease the amount of clothing that finds its way into landfills, but also to power the next generation of resale that puts the brands themselves in charge.
Buoyed by $8 million in new funding, the company’s resale technology builds customized marketplaces for brands to incorporate a secondhand component into their businesses. Via a favorite brand’s marketplaces, consumers can buy and sell secondhand merchandise alongside the existing retail experience.
“It feels like there is a huge opportunity for brands to improve how they plan buying to reduce the waste in the supply chain,” CEO Gittins told TechCrunch. “In my mind is an even bigger opportunity to unlock all of the inventory that is sitting in people's closets in their houses.”
One of the drivers for Gittins and Rowe to start Archive was seeing the shift of resale from the early days of consignment stores to moving online with companies like Poshmark, ThredUp and The RealReal. Gittins explained that as all of these generations of resale moved online, buyers and sellers could be matched by common interests; now the third generation will be brands taking back ownership of that and actually driving it themselves.
They designed Archive to be a kind of a peer-to-peer, white-labeled product that brands could release that had the same look and feel of their existing retail channels, Rowe, CTO, said. Items are sold directly from a seller to a buyer, so there isn’t much to deal with in terms of inventory or logistics.
“It also builds community and gives an outlet for these fanatics of the brand,” he added. “We realized that retail strategies are much bigger than this, so we've started to build out capabilities to help our brands do things like list their additional inventory that was maybe returned or damaged.”
Over the past year, brands were accelerating the conversations around resale, but weren’t taking steps to do it. However while preparing for 2022, Gittins says brands began coming to them with resale as one of their top priorities for the year. It was then that she and Rowe discussed taking additional venture capital to scale their team and operations to service the number of inbound requests.
Archive went live with five brands: Dagne Dover (Almost Vintage), Filippa K. (Preowned), M.M. LaFleur (Second Act), The North Face (Renewed Marketplace) and Oscar de la Renta (Encore). The company now has a pipeline of 100 brands looking to work with them, Gittins said.
The round brings Archive’s total funding to nearly $10 million. It was co-led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Bain Capital Ventures, with participation from Firstmark and a group of angel investors, including Oscar de la Renta CEO Alex Bolen, Zola co-founder Shan Lyn-Ma, former Credo Beauty CEO Dawn Dobras, designer Steven Alan and former Saks Fifth Avenue president Marigay McKee.
The bulk of the funding is earmarked for scaling the company, but also in technology and product development, as Archive aims to build out customized and unique experiences for each brand and their customers.
The company did not disclose growth metrics, but Gittins did say that after launching with the first few brands in 2021, the company has seen “incredible traction and is making a dent in taking care of the resale market.”
Alex Taussig, partner at Lightspeed, said secondhand retail is estimated to be a $100 billion category and will be driven by the brands adopting resale through companies like Archive. He has been watching market play out over the last decade and thinks Archive is the first company to build resale tools tailored toward the brand's experience.
“We were very impressed with the quality of brands and the breadth,” Taussig said. “It was not just one type of brand, but all the brands they got on board in such an early timeframe. If you're the kind of person who really likes Oscar de la Renta, and you just want to be an Oscar de la Renta seller or buyer, you get really deep in that community, but this is the site.”