A global fashion reseller is pushing into the New Zealand market, hoping to nab a majority share in the country's fast-growing secondhand marketplace.
Sydney-based Azura Fashion Group is seeking to raise A$5 million through a crowdfunding round on Birchal, to fund its expansion into global markets.
Following the raise, Azura plans to set up a local website domain to sell its luxury and secondhand goods direct to New Zealanders. The fresh capital will also fund a new global rental and buy-back business with some of fashion's biggest names.
Azura, which describes itself as an extension that plugs into existing retail websites, is a white label service that allows retailers to reach a large audience, taking care of shipping, sales and marketing and international taxes of orders it facilitates.
It is already partnered with local online retailers Onceit, Trade Me and Warehouse Group-owned The Market, and is looking for new merchant partners.
Azura was founded in February 2019 in response to Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Nike hitting headlines over their practices of burning excess stock to avoid selling their goods at a discount - an alternative to allow luxury brands to sell off their past season collections, company founder Sam Wood told the Herald.
The fashion group provides one of the world's largest pre-loved fashion catalogues and currently delivers over 1200 luxury brands to consumers worldwide.
Wood, chief executive of Azura, told the Herald the business was focused on building a "circular economy" giving clothes and apparel a second lease on life - and to save them from piling up in landfill.
"We're trying to push pre-loved fashion more so than anything else," said Wood.
Azura has six warehouses globally where it stocks its new and pre-loved stock - in the Netherlands, Italy, Britain, the United States, Hong Kong and Australia.
Over the past 12 months, the second-hand market had taken more market share from the business, now sitting at about 50 per cent of sales revenue, Wood said.
New Zealand was "a big growth market" for Azura, he said. "There are no real big players in New Zealand pushing pre-loved fashion so what we are looking to build is a local website for Azura Reborn so customers can sell their pre-loved hang bags back to Azura and we'll resell that on pre-loved marketplaces around the world.
"Aside from just becoming a circular fashion retailer, we're trying to help other brands become circular too. By approaching boutiques and brands and saying we'll help you move all your excess stock or help you move all of your returns that would normally go to landfill or throw away, we'll help you move stock as pre-loved."
The secondhand market is forecast to be worth US$77 billion in five years' time, and pre-loved fashion is expected to grow 11 times faster than the broader retail clothing sector.
The second-hand fashion market is set to double over the next year.
Azura has a monthly turnover of $55,000, in New Zealand, coming from its pre-loved fashion category, and approximately $100,000 per month including new and pre-loved sales.
Wood said rapid growth and demand from consumers for second-hand goods was making it hard for retailers to ignore. "The market is currently changing. Luxury fashion has taken the forefront.
"At the moment the majority of pre-loved sales are of luxury brands like Chanel and Gucci, but I think once we head down to the high street then it is really going to kick off."
Sales of pre-loved fashion have grown by 270 per cent in the past year, and 45 per cent of Gen-Z and millennials say they are more likely to shop with a brand offering secondhand clothing and goods, according to data from Azura.
"Our target market is becoming more and more millennials, and we're finding that a lot more people are interested in the whole circular economy."
The circular economy is defined as a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products for as long as possible.
It is a model that more fashion businesses are looking to incorporate into their operations as they strive to bring more sustainability to the industry, which is considered one of the world's biggest polluters.
Ellie Richards & Madi Rouse, founders of Auckland fashion retailer By Maverix which stocks global designer goods, say sustainability in the fashion industry was crucial for growth.
Their business, which launched at the end of 2021, allows consumers to send in clothing bought through them to be upcycled and relisted for sale.
"We definitely see the value in second-hand shopping and are huge advocates for that. Long term for us, we would love to create more of a circular model so if people are buying from us they can return their items years down the track and we will upcycle those and hopefully build up fashion lines that way, that's a massive goal for us," said Richards.
"We want to be able to list items that aren't bought for us too."
Rouse said the business was still in its infancy and was yet to develop its own platform to enable a buy-resell model, but it was in the pipeline for the next couple of years and By Maverix would eventually like to offer service to buy a wide range of items, not necessarily bought from its own site.
"We did a lot of research and people love op-shopping and it is definitely the best, most sustainable thing we can do from a consumption perspective."
Richards said second-hand shopping was fast-growing and was forcing retailers to operate more sustainably.
"Consumers in society today are definitely more savvy but also place such an importance on their health, their wellness and their impact on the world. We did extensive customer research on the importance of sustainability for consumers and from the feedback; people want to be exposed to what is happening out there and want choices that are better for the environment.
"We knew from a moral perspective, but also necessity perspective, that we needed to have the sustainability lens within the business. I think all retailers should - and will - start to move towards a more sustainable way of being."
By Maverix will host a two-week pop-up shop in Newmarket in early July.