After successfully launching VintyKids, first in the Netherlands in 2012, and then in Germany in October 2013, the addition of VintyWomen was the next logic step for the company. This second-hand online business buys and sells clothing of high-end designers and labels. Individuals can request a free garment bag on the company’s website and fill it with vintage clothing that they would like to sell. VintyWomen covers the costs of sending the parcel back to them and provides a compensation for the user. In addition, online shoppers can acquire garments of brands such as Donna Karan, Chanel or John Galliano, among many others, on their site. In the interview for our Website of the Month category, Christine Teeuwen, brand manager of VintyWomen, talks to us about the pre-loved fashion market, the ups and downs of running an e-commerce platform and the future plans of the company. Interview by Lorenzo Molina

When and where did the VintyWomen project start?
The project started this March in the Netherlands and was launched in Germany soon after that, in April 2014.

To whom is VintyWomen addressed?
VintyWomen is addressed to fashionable Women, not only to those that want to buy clothes up to 75 % cheaper than the original retail price, but also to those who want to sell their clothes.

What are the criteria that you follow in order to include and sell a vintage garment on your platform?
First of all we have a list of brands that we sell at VintyWomen. If the sent-in clothes fit that list, our team of experienced stylists checks every item to make sure that they are as good as new and in excellent shape.

Some people are a bit suspicious about buying second hand clothes without the possibility of trying them on. Have you experienced this as a holding-back factor?
One of our USPs is the high quality of our images presented on the website. This quality is realized by the Styleshoot-technology that was developed by our founders Maurits Teunissen, Bartel Huibregtsen and Chris Schäfer. Because of these photos, the customers are able to see every tiny detail of the clothes. And if something shouldn’t fit, the customers can of course return the bought clothes.

Aspect of the Vintywomen e-commerce site
Aspect of the Vintywomen e-commerce site

As business activities within the pre-loved fashion market increase, how does VintyWomen distinguish itself from the competition?
VintyWomen is not only just about selling second-hand clothes; we also want to encourage sustainability. By reusing clothes, CO2 emissions, consumption of dyes and water consumption are significantly reduced. In addition to that, our quality of the offered clothes, as well as the image material, distinguishes VintyWomen from the competition.

How often are new items uploaded to the web?
New items are uploaded to the web permanently. We can upload new items very efficient as the clothes go from quality check directly to our photo studio and the images are done in-house with our own Styleshoot technology.

How do you stay in touch/communicate with your customers and potential users?
We use various social media channels such as facebook and Twitter. Furthermore, we stay in touch with our customers via our weekly newsletter. We also let customers create ‘alerts’. The alerts make it possible for customers to be notified via e-mail when a new item from a certain brand, size or category enters the webshop. With the alerts, they never have to miss their favorite items. During the buying and selling process, we make sure to inform the customer about every important step in order to know the current status of the order or sale. In the future we are also planning to integrate a personal styling aspect to really build a connection with the customer and help them with picking items that fit their style.

VintyWomen wants to expand its activity to Belgium and the UK
VintyWomen wants to expand its activity to Belgium and the UK
Do you plan to add any new services in the near or long-term run?
As we believe in constant improvement, we are currently planning to integrate a styling aspect. We already started with the Warderobe Detox service in the Netherlands a short time ago. The customers have the possibility to engage a stylist that helps them to declutter their wardrobe. The service costs 25€ per detox and of course the costs can be offset against the revenues the customer earns on VintyWomen.
A second step to integrate a styling aspect for us will be to introduce a sort of help line that women can call if they want more styling advice. Of course, we’re planning to bring these services also to the other countries where VintyWomen is active.

So far, what have been the biggest difficulties of running the e-commerce site? What have been the best successes?
As there are quite a lot online second-hand stores, the biggest difficulty is to stand out from the competition. But we’re positive that we can reach the same goal that we already reached with VintyKids – to be the biggest second-hand online shop in Europe. With VintyKids we have a rating of 8.9 on Trustpilot and we get a lot of positive messages from our customers regarding VintyWomen. That, and our exceptionally good quality of photography thanks to Styleshoots, encourages us to be able to reach our goal.

The German site started running in April this year. What has the initial reaction been?
We received good feedback from our first VintyWomen customers and more and more orders.

Do you have plans to further expand your activity to other markets?
Yes, we are definitely looking forward to expand to other markets. First we will open VintyWomen in Belgium and the UK, afterwards the rest of Europe is on our list.