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S’pore startup Style Theory goes beyond fashion subscription to offer preloved luxury goods

style theory second edit

Raena Lim, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Style Theory, and Chris Halim, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Style Theory, are the epitome of a power couple.

From simply wanting to fix the constant wardrobe dilemma of having “never enough” to wear, the 34-year-olds have built fashion subscription service Style Theory into an empire facilitating over 2.3 million rentals and saving 600,000 preloved designer wear in Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong.

But for these entrepreneurs, the pursuit doesn’t stop. In 2020, Style Theory introduced Style Theory Shop, selling its own preloved items at up to 85 per cent off retail price.

Noticing growing concern around the fashion industry’s environmental impact, the resurgence of thrifting and more relaxed attitudes towards secondhand ownership, the duo decided to rebrand Style Theory Shop into an extension of the business, now known as Second Edit.

Rehoming preloved luxury goods with ease of mind

second edit style theory
Image Credit: Second Edit

We’ve decided to properly brand our resale business as Second Edit to show that resale is not an afterthought, but a natural extension of the business.

Our new name opens our imagination to so much more than just secondhand shopping — it also means a second chapter for our brand, a second take on one-of-a-kind finds, and a second chance to heal the Earth with our fashion choices.

– Raena Lim, co-founder and COO of Style Theory

Today, Second Edit is a leading resale platform in Southeast Asia, providing authentication and allowing people to shop for preloved luxury pieces without worry online.

Sellers simply need to WhatsApp details of the item they want to sell to Second Edit, and it will arrange a courier to pick up said items — free for eligible bags, and at S$5 for apparels. Alternatively, sellers can drop off their items at Second Edit’s physical showroom at Kallang.

A team of experts will then evaluate each item and offer a quote within five to 10 days before sellers can sell their items on the company’s online platform or at its physical showroom. The company charges a commission fee starting at 20 per cent of the selling price.

Items that are not sold within 60 days will have their prices reduced by 20 per cent, and sellers can decide to pull their items off the shelves if they wish to.

“Since the launch of Second Edit, our team has been laser focused on improving the buying experience through a revamped online experience, as well as private shopping experiences at our physical showrooms,” said Raena.

Their efforts have since paid off — Second Edit saw 10 times growth in 10 months, and orders for designer bags doubled. Another encouragement for them, Raena added, was that they have seen a steady rate of repeat customers.

A “natural extension” of Style Theory, but comes with new challenges

second edit style theory
Image Credit: Second Edit

Since founding Style Theory in 2016, the duo has amassed a large community of over 200,000 registered users. Over the years, they have understood the lifestyle, needs and wants of their customers to better meet their expectations.

“We are also able to leverage the operations, data and technology that Style Theory has built over the years to enable Second Edit to take off within a short period of time,” said Raena.

However, spinning off into the resale business comes with new challenges as well.

For one, negative experiences with other retailers can affect sentiments of the resale industry, especially since luxury goods can be significant purchases for the average consumer.

While she did not detail any examples, Vulcan Post found public sentiments towards second-hand luxury goods have soured after luxury marketplace Reebonz announced it was liquidating last September, racking up S$65 million in debt.

The announcement came a month after watchdog Consumers Association of Singapore reported that it received multiple complaints of counterfeit goods being transacted and items being of poor quality. Sellers were also reportedly owed more than S$20,000 as Reebonz failed to pay them post-sale.

Unlike Reebonz in the past, Second Edit does not purchase goods from consigners. It also has expert verifiers to check goods and grade their quality from pristine to fair, allowing customers to get a sense of the item’s condition.

According to its Frequently Asked Questions page, it also accepts returns within three days of receiving the item.

Raena added that businesses with a foundation in circular fashion also have challenges as second-hand buying and gifting are not as widely accepted as purchasing brand new, especially in Asia.

Our goal, then, is to educate our audience on the environmental benefits of shopping preloved, while showing them what the future of fashion could look like through circularity. We see challenges like these as opportunities to reshape people’s perceptions and attitudes towards secondhand shopping.

– Raena Lim, co-founder and COO of Style Theory

AI, Buy Now Pay Later making luxury resale safe and accessible

second edit style theory
Image Credit: Second Edit

“At Second Edit, we make it our responsibility to ensure that all bags that are transacted at Second Edit are authentic so that our customers can be assured when they shop with us,” stressed Raena.

Aside from working with a team of authentication experts to ensure all products at Second Edit meet the highest industry standards, Second Edit also uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) luxury authentication platform Entrupy.

Raena also shared that beyond being part of the circular economy, Second Edit also serves to allow people to purchase luxury goods at an “affordable price”.

Demand for luxury goods has been on the rise as its price skyrockets with brands increasing their prices — Chanel, for one, has increased its product prices by up to 60 per cent.

This phenomenon has given good opportunities for Second Edit as people will start seeing a luxury bag as a piece of investment that is worth buying.

We give a second chance for those who can’t afford to buy a brand new bag with a very high price to buy the preloved ones instead.

– Raena Lim, co-founder and COO of Style Theory

The company has also adopted the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) model, collaborating with Atome and Pace to allow consumers to pay in instalments. In fact, more than 60 per cent of Second Edit’s customers use these BNPL services.

Future plans for Style Theory and Second Edit

With the goal to make Second Edit a “top-of-mind avenue for fashion lovers to dip their toes into sustainable shopping”, Raena and Chris hope to further expand internationally.

Beyond gaining footing in Style Theory’s existing markets — namely Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong — the duo hopes to further grow Second Edit’s collection while maintaining its authentication and quality standards.

While they may have a new brand on their shoulders, they hope to further expand both Style Theory and Second Edit across South East Asia markets, such as Malaysia, and expand its business pillars.

“Our long-term target is to thrive in more Southeast Asian markets, and we are well on our way,” said Raena.

Featured Image Credits: Style Theory / Second Edit

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