In an era of commercialism, it has become increasingly difficult to catch up on the latest. The rapidly changing needs and wants of a fast-paced society have resulted in the fashion industry’s confused state of being; stick to the tried and tested or focus on immediacy to stay relevant?
But look hard enough and you’ll notice that fashion is cyclical. The changes in trends and styles are constantly changing but are often revisited albeit in various updated interpretations.
Enter StyleTribute, one of the regions foremost authorities on pre-loved fashion. The online e-commerce platform started in 2013 and has an extensive list of designer goods ranging from well-known high fashion brands the likes of Chanel and Gucci to more accessible fashion brands like APC and Sandro. While predominantly catering to women, over the years, StyleTribute has seen its fair share of men purchasing accessories and leather goods.
We speak to co-founder Stephanie Crespin on why now is the right time for a dedicated men’s section on StyleTribute and the mechanics of shopping and selling pre-loved and vintage luxury items online.
How did the name “StyleTribute” come about?
Over time we kept seeing trends making a return; it’s a strategy to make you buy more. But what really ends up being important and where you really stand out is by building your own style – curating your own personality by carefully picking and choosing, and not focusing on trends. Basically, the whole idea of StyleTribute is that it’s a tribute to style.
What are the things that you look out for before approving the sale of an item?
Firstly, we bring the product back to our headquarters and it will go through an initial quality check. This includes looking out for stains and smells, checking to see if the stitches, seams and labels are still intact, etc. In Singapore especially, humidity is a big issue so we definitely have to look out for mould.
Secondly, we check to ensure that it’s authentic. Each category kind of has its own process that is dependent on the brands. But generally, we look out for things like the hardware, fabric, stitching, monograms and of course, all the accompaniments that go with the item (authentication cards, dust bag, etc.).
Once both checks are done, only then will we shoot the products and upload images for sale. We do have customers who come in to try the products so there’s always a need to ensure that no unintentional stains and colour transfers happen in the process. It’s also an opportunity for us to check if there is anything at all that we might have missed out.
Is there a certain kind of aesthetic that StyleTribute adheres to or is anything that is authentic can be accepted?
We reject more or less 30% of what is submitted to us. Items that are not in excellent conditions will be rejected. We do accept items in good conditions, but our guidelines are strict. The only items where we’ll accept certain flaws and defects are items that are vintage and have that really exclusive mark or a story behind it.
Depending on the category, there are different guidelines. For bags, we’re a bit more open in the types of styles that we accept only because we want to cater to as many tastes as possible. But at the same time, the bags selected are usually the more coveted pieces. We’re more selective on items that see a lesser turnover rate like shoes and ready-to-wear.
It does get a bit subjective, to be honest. For instance, I really don’t fancy anything that is monogram-heavy. But then again, it depends on the style and what we see is happening in fashion. For example, Mulberry was very popular and coveted less than a year ago. And then, the search for it decreased so we had to adjust our pricing.
Why do you think buying vintage and pre-loved fashion online is gaining traction?
I think in this period of high consumerism, people are getting sick of materialism. The stories behind vintage pieces become more attractive too. We’re able to connect more to a vintage piece – the period it’s from, the craftsmanship, etc. The other thing is that, we’ve become an extremely wealthy city. And people are moving towards not wanting what everyone has. With vintage, there’s an opportunity of reaching back into archives and picking a wider selection than what is offered today.
People are shopping smarter too. If you look at successful ventures in other industries like Airbnb and Uber, they’re all shared economy models. It’s all about optimizing your wallet. People have realised that by buying pre-loved fashion, they’re able to get much more out of their wardrobe and be able to wear beautiful and quality products for, at times, a quarter of the price.
Why the decision to dedicate a men’s section on StyleTribute?
For quite some time now, we’ve had men wanting to sell their items or looking for specific pieces on StyleTribute. It’s been increasing over time till a point where we started questioning why we haven’t done so. On top of that, we saw that the few male clients that return were converting so well that they were able to pick and choose our best items and are even savvier than our average female consumer. Even though our target market is smaller, the men that we will be able to attract are much more knowledgeable on vintage and luxury items.
Because men tend to prioritise quality, do you see that as a challenge?
No, I think that the catalogue will be a bit different. For men, I don’t think that prices would be low (for example, a pair of women’s shoes average at $150). We’ll have less quantities and varieties but place more emphasis on bags, belts and accessories. We are still looking into which type of clothing to accept. We have sold a brand new Burberry trench coat but I’m not sure if we would accept things like standard Paul Smith shirts. We don’t know yet so we’re going to see how it goes and see what the demand is.