We recently spoke with the Qatari team at Match & Style about their experiences with buying and selling pre-owned designer bags. They are a local start-up that has created a second hand marketplace for high-end luxury designer items by Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Hermes and many more. With more than 1 million QAR in sales since starting last year, it seems that this market is here to stay.
How did you come up with this idea?
We were at dinner discussing the huge costs and financial demands that comes with Qatari weddings. As you know this is a small community, and because of that you end up seeing the same people at different weddings, hence you just can’t wear the same dresses to multiple weddings. In most cases, these designer dresses are worn for an hour or two max for the wedding then put away, never to be used or seen again.
So, we thought about creating a platform that allows us and other women around Qatar to provide the opportunity to sell and buy their designer dresses online, ensuring that dresses that are only worn once are used to their full potential. We also decided to include luxury handbags because unlike clothes, bags are a lifelong investment if used properly and with care. Our platform gives people access to their favorite fashion brands and trends without completely breaking their budget.
What is a typical discount on buying a bag second hand from buying it new?
It varies among resellers, with us we try to keep our prices as attractive as possible, some bags are discounted by 50% while clothing usually goes between 50-80% off the retail depending on the collection, condition, and all the other aspects keeping in mind that designer handbags specially from Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton are almost never discounted not even in outlet stores.
What are the benefits of buying second hand?
One of our main goals was to benefit the community by giving fashion lovers access to designer items at a discounted and more affordable price. They can follow their favorite trends while also keeping their budgets in line especially considering how often the fashion landscape changes. In addition, we’re allowing sellers to be their own “businesswomen” by selling their luxury items, freeing up closet space and giving these items a new home, all while making some money out of it. It's a win-win situation for all.
In addition, we view fashion as art that needs to be appreciated and admired, it’s the creative genius of someone’s mind that shouldn’t be hidden away unused in a closet somewhere; consignment allows us to extend the life-cycle of this art while also helping the environment noting that the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries mainly due to fast-fashion. That is why we, our buyers and sellers, are taking the initiative to reduce pollution through consignment.
Another point, as founders ourselves, we value the effort and hard work that each and every designer puts into creating their collection. Some people buy fake items because they can't afford the original, but what they don't realize is the crime being committed towards those designers. Buying pre-owned is not only budget friendly, but it’s also more ethical.
What is the business model? Have you achieved any milestones?
Our idea is to create a platform for buyers and sellers to buy and sell new and pre-owned luxury designer items easily to the local and regional market through our website at MatchandStyle.com
We have managed to obtain a handful of brand new and pre-owned luxury designer items and sell them at very attractive prices. Our aim is to be the go-to place for pre-owned designer fashion items in the region. In fact, we received many Chanel and Hermes limited collection items which were sold at amazing prices compared to the market.
We achieved many milestones since we launched in 2019; we managed to hit break-even sales within the first 7 months of operation, and we recently hit 1 million QAR in sales!
We were lucky to obtain, through our strong connection with Hermes, one of the rarest collector handbags. The Hermès Birkin Sellier Fauborg Handbag, which every Hermes fan would certainly know, which is usually only available for Hermes VVIP Clients. This is what makes shopping with us even more special, as we have a strong rapport with many luxury brands and we are able to provide brand new handbags and not only pre-owned.
Another success was our “September Bride” event which gained media attention across the country and even Kuwait. Not only that, but we got many fashion icons in the country to visit our event and promote it on their social media platforms. This event was a game changer for our business and truly changed the idea of how people viewed pre-owned items and started to gradually be more accepting of it.
Who are your customers?
Our customers include both sellers and buyers. Sellers may want to extend the lifecycle of their designer bags and clothing and make some extra cash and buyers may want to keep up with the latest fashion trends without breaking their budget.
Not only that, but we also have a customer base that are both buyers and sellers who can afford the retail price designer items yet prefer to buy from us because the items are in excellent like new condition!
As we mentioned earlier, our website is visited by people from over 60 countries, and we have acquired customers from Kuwait and will continue to increase our presence in the region and globally.
Describe the process of selling a bag or piece of clothing; what happens after an owner of a luxury item contacts you?
The process is simple and can be described in four steps.
- The seller will send photos + details of the item via WhatsApp. These include the designer name, original purchase price, accessories if any (i.e. original box, dust bag, invoice etc.) and the preferred selling price for each item.
- We then review the photos and propose an inductive selling price (inclusive of our commission which varies based on the selling price).
- Pick up of the item is arranged with the seller free of charge, and next we put the item through our authenticity test (see below) and quality check of the item's condition. Then we prepare the item description and photos and add it to our store and highlight it on social media.
- Once the item is sold, we contact the seller to arrange the transfer through the bank noting that all items sold with Match & Style are sold based on consignment basis.
How do you authenticate the bags?
We take our authentication process very seriously, in addition to our personal background check on each seller, we perform visual tests of each item and we authenticate with an Entrupy authentication device. This device scans the leather and hardware of the bag (inside and out) and delivers an authenticity certificate. Entrupy was founded by Vidyuth Srinivasan and took decade of work, research and testing from around the world, hence having diverse, unmatched data set. If an item is proven to be fake, post-sale, Entrupy guarantees 100% refund to the buyer.
What do you like most about various designer brands?
Mainly the creativity, specially when it comes to dresses, we just admire the work and thought that goes into making an evening gown with all the delicate details and we truly view each item as a piece of art that deserves to be in the right hands!
How is it being an entrepreneur?
We believe that in Qatar the market is wide open for being an entrepreneur as the purchasing power in this country is very high. Not only that, but we have many opportunities to fund our dream projects especially with Qatar Development Bank being in place which not only supports entrepreneurs financially but also provides guidance to help them get up and running.
How do you see this market evolving?
The online market for luxury items is getting a lot of investment recently (see $1 billion invested in new online luxury retailer). When we launched MatchandStyle.com in April 2019, the main player was Net-A-Porter. Our advantage is we are here in Qatar and focused on the local market. We also get a lot of interest from other GCC countries as well as from nearly 60 countries around the world who have visited our website. In terms of e-commerce, we are still at a development stage which I believe has great potential and is growing quickly.
Learn more at MatchandStyle.com