Second-hand fashion platform takes Brussels by storm

Summary

Oh My Dress!, the online Brussels-based platform for second-hand designer fashion, offers a 2.0 solution to the timeless problem of brimming wardrobes

Young founders find niche

Most of us have been there: closets and wardrobes overflowing with garments that we don’t wear anymore but are too “timeless” to throw away. But who has the time or energy to resell all those used dresses, shoes or bags?

Oh My Dress!, an online platform for the sale and purchase of second-hand high-end fashion for women, is the 2.0 solution to this problem, and it is taking the Brussels’ second-hand market by storm.

Just a year after its launch, Oh My Dress! counts 4,500 members and 280 regular sellers. More than 6,000 items have been uploaded, of which about half have been resold. Last March alone, the website had 20,000 visits, giving the platform a grand total of 250,000 visits since it began.

Not bad for founders Arthur Spaey and Valentine Witmeur, whose combined age doesn’t even reach 50.

Oddly enough, Spaey and Witmeur have the 2008 crisis to thank for the success of Oh My Dress! In the economic hard times that followed, locals began looking at second-hand alternatives when making purchases. According to a study from market research firm iVOX, the number of Belgians buying second hand was up 37% in 2013 compared to 2011.

Along with this trend, the popularity of e-commerce also grew. According to a study from the payment processing company Ogone, the number of online transactions in Belgium went up 25% in 2012, with two out of three Belgians selling used goods via the internet. 

Fair prices and a return policy

Amid these developments, Spaey, then manager of a Pain Quotidien bakery, observed the success of his mother’s clothing sales between friends. “There was that coupled with the phenomenon that more used clothes were being sold using social media channels,” he says. “The idea then came to me that there was something there worth developing.”

We wanted to get rid of the unattractive, stuffy image of second-hand clothing

- Oh My Dress! co-founder Arthur Spaey

The inspired Spaey, 24, soon came across his future business partner. Returning from her studies in fashion and luxury management in Milan, Witmeur and her eye for fashion complemented Spaey’s entrepreneurial vision. Oh My Dress! was born.  

Potential sellers bring their apparel to the Oh My Dress! office in Brussels or send them by post. Witmeur, 25, then carefully selects pieces and suggests a price. If accepted, Spaey takes care of the photo shoot, uploading the garment and sending it to its future owner.

The seller then receives a bi-monthly summary of all their sales. It’s as simple as that. Meanwhile, buyers can search articles by size and brand and benefit from a two-week return policy. 

“The idea is that people can get good fashion for their money,” says Spaey. “We wanted a user-friendly and professional platform offering second-hand products that look brand new. In other words: get rid of the unattractive, stuffy image of second-hand clothing.”

Oh My Dress! charges a commission per piece that can vary between 25 and 50%, depending on the selling price of the item. Most of the articles on the website sell for €35 to €80, which means a 35% commission. The seller gets 65%. 

Spaey and Witmeur are pushing the boundaries of young entrepreneurship and want to encourage other young people to do the same. “It may seem ambitious and risky to start a business at our age, but just don’t hesitate,” Spaey says. “If you have an idea that you believe in, and you go about it correctly, there’s no reason that it shouldn’t work.”  

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