As Poshmark makes its way into India’s shopping market, is the nation ready to join the club of secondhand shopping?

There was a time when eBay was the only source to buy items that weren’t available in India, obviously secondhand. Over the years, the market has been growing in huge numbers. Enter Etsy, The RealReal, Vestiaire Collective, Poshmark, Depop, and many such outlets that took on the job to fulfil consumers’ luxury demand through the secondhand medium.

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Poshmark’s entry into the Indian market can become the game-changer that everyone has been looking for. For those who are fond of vintage pieces, the reseller’s Indian entry will definitely shape the future of shopping. “At Poshmark, we’re focused on growing our community of sellers and buyers through international expansion. Poshmark launched in Canada in May 2019 and Australia in February 2021, and India was a natural fit. The Indian market has a rapidly growing base of sustainability and value-conscious consumers, and social commerce has emerged as a massive phenomenon in the country,” says Anuradha Balasubramanian, Head of Poshmark India Marketplace.

According to a Bain & Company report, social commerce in India will be worth as much as $20 billion by 2025, with the potential to reach $70 billion by 2020, equalling twice the size of the e-commerce market within 10 years. Poshmark’s social marketplace, for new, pre-loved and sustainable fashion is an empowering and engaging offering to India’s diverse and multicultural community of buyers and sellers. At the same time, the absence of an organised, safe, technologically advanced, and a truly social platform in this space opens a big opportunity for Poshmark in India.

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In the last five to six years, there has been an increase in Indian marketplaces, where platforms such as Coutloot, Spoyl, Meesho, and many others have tried to fabricate the habit of secondhand fashion. Vendant Lamba, founder of The Mainstreet Marketplace thinks that the reselling culture in India “is on a solid boom. Very much in one with the fintech and retail investor boom in India over the last 18 months, resale culture has also exploded. A lot of fresh consumers have entered the industry, and are eager to learn and interact with the space. Sneakers have also now started transcending beyond just hardcore sneakerheads. We’re seeing a lot of general fashion enthusiasts also purchasing their first sneaker. It’s beautiful,” he says.

Designer Neeta Lulla believes that the reselling culture in India is very recent, it picked up during the pandemic, and because of changing buying habits of the consumers. “I think it will take some time before we really adhere to the sensibilities of resold goods. Post pandemic world has opened a lot of avenues and shut a few as well. People have been responsible about what they buy. Staying at home has opened up a lot of digital avenues. However, with things opening up gradually and slowly, we have seen a lot of revenge buying, especially for accessories. As a bridal wear designer, I see people coming to stores and buying price points that are getting scaled up. So, we are moving in a positive direction.”

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Apart from marketplaces, Instagram thrift stores have played a major role in normalising secondhand clothing or vintage pieces. Rachel, founder of Instagram thrift store Assortments 2.0, was one of the first to start with reselling on the photo-sharing platform.

She opines, “Reselling culture has become huge in India over the past couple of years. Not just for shoes, but even for clothing. I think reselling thrift clothing has impacted a lot of people in a number of ways. It gives the opportunity to the consumers to be more sustainable, is more pocket friendly, and makes high-end items like luxury and hype more accessible to middle-class people such as ourselves. When I started my page, it was just me and two other pages I can think of. People were still really new to the idea of buying secondhand clothes, especially online. Thrift culture has been popular in western countries since time immemorial, but in India, it has just begun.”

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When it comes to reselling, the main question that lines up is the usage of used clothes, which isn’t really normal here. Of course, we are used to wearing hand-medowns, or heirlooms, but actually buying secondhand items to wear is not our first thought. “People were really sceptical of buying thrift clothes in the beginning. I still remember some customers asking me why we sell used clothes online. Some people view it as unhygienic. But seeing as thrift culture has literally boomed in the past two to three years, I believe it has evolved to the point where wearing thrifted clothes is “cool”. Millennials and Gen-Zs are all for sustainability. Getting educated on how thrifting helps save the environment has also played a huge role in this culture becoming widely popular. In my own experience, Indians have had a hard time embracing the idea of using secondhand. But yes, as I had stated above, thrift culture has given them the opportunity to purchase authentic luxury products, which have had a huge impact on how this culture has evolved. The pandemic saw a huge increase in the number of online thrift shops, no doubt. The upside of this is, so many young people have found a way to earn money and become self-taught entrepreneurs,” Rachel continues.

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To educate the Indian market about reselling, Poshmark’s primary focus is on investing in education and awareness to grow a strong buyer and seller community in India. “Poshmark is here to help, whether it is educating community members on how to create their first listing, or giving ideas on how to make a sale and locate amazing discounts. We have received a great initial response from Indian consumers, and look forward to building this community in the coming year. Our objective is to build a Poshmark community with levels of engagement on par with or greater than our other markets,” states Anuradha. Lulla thinks, “Indians do not believe in the concept of reselling, but luxury products, which are beyond price points when available at a resale price, which is much cheaper compared to the normal price, have increased because people aspire to wear branded items and a lot of youngsters at work would rather spend and do conservative buying. With Poshmark coming in, I would wait and watch.”

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When asked about the hottest selling categories on the platform, Anuradha confirms that Indians have embraced varied fashion styles and genres. There is excitement and growth across categories including western wear, traditional wear, and athleisure, among others. “With Diwali, we expect to see a surge in demand for traditional Indian wear like sarees, kurtas, and more. We’re delighted to see these categories that we introduced for our Indian users becoming increasingly popular.”

The concept of reselling should be expanded globally, in the terms of the consumers being able to buy from other platforms at a cheaper shipping price, which is the actual meaning of reselling. Marketplaces such as eBay and Depop offer global shipping programmes that cater for the needs of a consumer. When asked if there is a chance of making purchases from international Poshmark countries in future, Anuradha confirms, “At this time, Indians will not be able to buy or sell to U.S., Canadian or Australian users, and vice versa. However, all users, no matter your location, can toggle between the U.S., Canadian, Australian, and Indian marketplaces, allowing the entire international community to see listings, and engage with one another. We’re always looking at ways to make our community even more global in the future.”

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Reselling is showing promise, and has the potential to erupt the fashion market like never before. How the Indian fashion consumers warm up to it is yet to be seen.