The Rise and Rise of Previously Owned Fashion
One of the biggest trends of the decade, although missed by many, is the exponential growth in the pre-owned branded fashion market which is growing 20 times faster than the conventional retail apparel market and is expected to touch US$ 80 billion by 2029. Buying second hand clothes has rapidly migrated from flea markets and thrift shops to online platforms and the young population is simply loving it. There are many factors going for pre-owned fashion, some of the most noteworthy ones are:
- It is much more affordable and gives value for money.
- It is extremely environment friendly, drives sustainability and extends the usable lifecycle of an apparel.
- It is no longer taboo to buy and wear second hand clothes.
- Thrifting allows you to wear branded fashion without paying a high price for it.
So, if you are extremely conscious about the environment or wish to satiate your desire to wear a nice dress at a fraction of the cost, buying preloved is the way to go.
Kiabza – High Quality Pre-Owned Branded Fashion Delivered to Your Doorstep
Founded in 2018, Kiabza is an excellent online platform of pre-owned branded fashion for both buyers and sellers while making a significant contribution to a sustainable environment, conservation of natural resources and the upliftment of the under-privileged in our society. A buyer gets the opportunity to own an authentic branded fashion clothing, in great condition, thoroughly inspected and sanitised at a fraction of the actual cost, thereby assuring full value for money. From the seller’s perspective it is a great opportunity to clean out the closet of clothes which are not being used for long, making them available to someone else who is interested in them and earning some money in the process.
Kiabza has brought in a comprehensive, structured and process-driven approach to a hitherto completely unstructured and risk-laden pre-owned branded fashion industry. Kiabza gets all the pre-owned branded fashion clothing from its sellers to its warehouse where they are subjected to stringent scrutiny for authenticity (Kiabza has an approved list of over 2000 brands) and defects, once approved they are completely cleaned and sanitized and then put up for display for prospective buyers. This ensures that a buyer gets a genuine branded fashion clothing piece which is defect-free. All unapproved pieces are either forwarded to designated charities for their benefit or returned to their respective sellers. The entire process is simple, clean, transparent and automated by business management software solutions.
We caught up with Nohar Nath, Founder and CEO of Kiabza to know about his journey in conceptualising and setting up Kiabza and the challenges he faced on the way.
We understand branded pre-owned clothing with our decades of experience in the international textile recycling industry and believe that we can make the Kiabza experience enriching for both the buyer and the seller. Its time now for India to benefit from the many facets of quality, price and fashion that branded pre-owned clothing can offer.
Nohar Nath – Founder and CEO, Kiabza
Kiabza's Vision and Journey with Nohar Nath, Founder and CEO
- Q. Tell us about yourself and your background.
- I am born and brought up in Mumbai. I went to Cathedral School and Sydenham College, doing my masters from JBIMS. I worked with HSBC for a few months after that and then joined the family textile export business, the Kishco Group. I was there for 21 years from 1997 to 2018 and that business took me down sustainability. Within the textile industry I began working with sustainability, recycling and upcycling.
- Q. What led you to create Kiabza and how did you go about it?
- Globally there is a lot of space for pre-owned fashion and we thought of bringing a similar business in India. Thrift shopping and previously owned fashion is huge overseas and we wanted to see if it can work here. In 2018 we did research on the Indian market and in 2019 there was a soft launch.
Globally there is a huge involvement in recycling, it is a very exciting space. Thrifting is seen as a cool thing. What we found here was that buying used clothes is seen as something of a taboo among the older generation. But we saw a shift happening and there is a move towards sustainability, especially among the younger generation.
- Q. How receptive to thrift shopping for clothes is the Indian market?
- It is super receptive. Our core user base is the 18 to 30 year old, the Instagram generation. They constantly want to look good, they know about the power of sustainability, they do all their shopping online, they aren’t mall shoppers. This generation does not believe in fast fashion. Thrift shopping for branded clothing is a very global thing and this generation is very aware of what’s happening. The older generation, my generation, followed a few international trends and stars like maybe Michael Jackson. This generation knows about all the celebs, what each of them stand for and they follow global trends.
We were also very surprised at how much interest thrifting generated. The 18 to 30 year old wants to always look good, they may not have a lot of money to spend yet want to wear branded clothes. Thrifting means at affordable prices they get value products and that is a great draw for people who cannot afford branded fashion at retail prices. Thrifting is now a cult, it is cool.
- Q. Why is a move towards sustainability so important for the fashion industry?
- The fashion industry has been ignoring sustainability for a long time. There is a lot of wastage of natural resources, especially water. Even so, for a long time the industry did not do anything. The game changer happened in 2000 when along came fast fashion, where instead of having four seasons a year, someone decided let’s have 24 seasons where new clothing lines are coming out all through the year. It was then that waste in the fashion industry went up to an all time high and global brands deemed that we need to do something about it.
Sustainability is a very broad definition. Is it about using resources responsibly or misusing them? It even applies to a clean working environment for workers. How do we improve things? One solution is by encouraging pre-owned branded fashion.
There is so much wastage - 30 per cent of what is made never gets sold, and of the 70 per cent that does find buyers, 50 to 60 per cent are barely used. Instead of it filling landfills, let’s do something with it - reuse, recycle, upcycle, recycle the fibre yarn.
- Q. What are your own interests and how did the pandemic affect the business?
- We have been working from home but very diligently. For the first few months into the lockdown we were completely shut, then we had the warehouse open but it was still WFH. I have a super team that looks into the day to day operations. I am involved more in the strategic, PR, firefighting side and don’t get involved in the micro side of the business.
I play golf every weekend; I played golf at a national level, representing India in junior men's golf at one time. I love travelling and have been to over 60 countries, food is a passion, I enjoy music, I run three days a week.
Kiabza's Must-Have Products
H&M Casual Jacket
This is a nearly new H&M full-sleeved casual jacket with a white base and the Pepsi logo emblazoned across the front and sides. The fabric used is cotton and it is available in L size. It is perfect for a casual night out with your friends when the weather might get a little nippy. Available for ₹ 900.00 you can buy it here.
This again is a nearly new authentic Disney sweatshirt in grey colour for women, with the iconic Mickey Mouse print. The sweatshirt is made from polyester, has full sleeves and is available in size M. Available for only ₹ 1,120.00 you can check it out here.
Michael Kors Top
Keeping the best for the last, this is a short-sleeved multi-coloured top for women from the top American fashion designer, Michael Kors. You can pair it up with your favourite jeans and you will be ready for the housewarming party at your friends place. Available in size M, it is priced at only ₹ 1,280.00 and is available here.
Where Can You Find Them?kiabza.com
How Kiabza Delivers a Delightful Customer Experience
- Q. How do you ensure quality and hygiene?
- The entire process is automated and the only manual intervention is for checking. The BCIL software runs through the product at the time of checking it. The product comes in and gets a SKU, and is listed according to a category. There are 5 options to show the condition of the product - new with tag, without tag, nearly new, worn a few times and teeny weeny imperfection. When a product is over-used it goes to an NGO partner.
- Q. What are you trying to achieve?
- Kiabza is a for profit company, but sustainability has been integrated into it. We want to give fashion new life, give people value for money, give them affordable branded fashion. That it supports sustainability and helps in reusing things that would otherwise land up in a landfill is an added advantage. It’s about making money while helping people look good, feel good, and as a plus it is contributing to sustainability. What doesn’t sell goes to three NGOs that we have partnered with.
When the product comes in it is checked for fabric, defect, embellishments, if the product has lost shape, colour, if it has holes. If it does not meet the checklist then it gets rejected. After inspection it either goes for a wet wash or a dry clean.
- Q. What are the biggest challenges of dealing with previously owned clothes?
- There are 3 factors that are identified during an examination of the clothes - quality, hygiene and authenticity. When people don’t know much about the concept of pre-owned fashion, they will test quality.
Authenticity. In India where there is a first, second and third copy being created, people don’t want to get ripped off. We therefore have experts from the industry to check everything that comes in, and we have a checklist on authenticity to ensure that the products are authentic.
To maintain hygiene, everything is sent for either a wet wash or for dry clean. Our model is to bring the clothes into the warehouse instead of a C2C model that thrifting often has.
Kiabza's Exciting Latest Products
Nike T-Shirt Without Collar
This is an authentic Nike T-shirt for men in green colour, with short sleeves and without collar. Manufactured from polyester, it has medium length and is available in XL size. It has been worn a few times, is in excellent condition and is priced at only ₹ 460.00. You can check it out here.
Champion Track Pant
Our next product is this polyester track pant for women from Champion. It is a premium sportswear, in blue colour with an eye-catching printed design. It is available in waist size 30 and is in nearly new condition. Don this track pant and you are ready to hit the gym to shed those excess calories you have added during the lockdown. It is available for ₹ 830.00 and is available here.
This is a beautiful party dress for women from the iconic BCBG brand which is known for stylish and contemporary women's clothing. It is manufactured from polyester, is sleeveless, has medium length and is available in XS size. You can get this eye-catching party dress for only ₹ 1,360.00 here.
Our last offering is this splendid grey shorts from Pantaloons, one of India's most popular fashion brands. Made from cotton, these printed shorts have been worn a few times and is available in waist size 28. Available for ₹ 450.00 you can check this not-to-be-missed deal here.
Kiabza's Future Plans?
We are looking at growing the business exponentially over the next few years and are looking for partners who are venture capitalists and investors. We have passed the seed stage and are looking at early pre series funding by end of the year and scale the business. So far we have not been funded externally and can continue self funding. But now we want the right partner and valuation, we just have to wait.
How Would You Encourage First Time Buyers of Second Hand Clothes?
It depends on who is buying the clothes, the age group. If it is a youngster between 18 and 30 years, you have to tell them they get to buy branded fashion at value prices. That fashion makes us look and feel better - you feel more confident while wearing your favourite pair of jeans as opposed to your third favourite pair of jeans.
If someone is on the bubble then the sustainability angle hits them hard. Most people don’t want to know, although there are some people who are conscious about sustainability, they would comprise under 10% of the market. 90% would go to pre-owned fashion for the sake of branded fashion.
Do Your Bit for the Conservation of Our Environment
As would have been evident by now, second hand clothes are available in diverse styles, for all genders, and you will surely find one clothing which satisfies your taste in fashion. Moreover, it is time that all of us start doing our bit for conserving our environment. A small step in this direction can definitely make a huge improvement.