Refash zeroes in on Malaysian market
By Sharmila Ganapathy-Wallace February 8, 2017
- Recently acquired mobile app to gain a foothold in Malaysian market
- Plans to secure Series A funding this year
WE LIVE in a throwaway society where food, clothes and even electronics such as mobile phones are seen as dispensable. Take clothes, for instance. Research has shown that the fashion industry is the second highest polluting one in the world, next to oil. However, people continue to buy and then discard clothes as if there were no tomorrow.
Singapore-based startup Refash hopes to reduce textile wastage via its business model, namely selling pre-loved women’s clothes via its online and offline stores. The startup, which launched its first Refash website in Singapore last year, launched its Refash Malaysia online store in mid-January this year. It also opened an offline store in Sungai Wang Plaza in Kuala Lumpur last month, to coincide with its Malaysian website launch.
“It’s not a retail game, it was never about the retail game. The longer term picture here is to connect women’s closets. It’s about us being the broker for women with fashion sense to share their clothes and to consume fast fashion in a more sustainable manner,” Refash founder and chief executive officer Aloysius Sng told Digital News Asia in a recent phone interview.
“Women are consuming clothes faster than ever. Which means they are wasting more clothes and contributing to textile wastage. And every woman faces the same problem. A bursting wardrobe.
“So instead of having them donate clothes or throw them away at the end of the year, while the clothes still have retail and resale value, we take them over and then sell on their behalf and help them to connect to other people who love clothes and who have similar fashion sense,” he explained.
Apart from the website, Refash also has a shopping mobile app for its Singaporean customers. Sng shared that for Malaysia, Refash recently acquired a mobile app to facilitate the exchange of women’s clothing in Malaysia.
“We have acquired a mobile in a similar pre-owned fashion industry to basically get a foothold, get a sense of the market, take care of everything for the use and then to also quickly push out this service to more people so that they can benefit from buying and selling second-hand clothes.” He added that the plan is to launch the mobile app for the Malaysian market in early March.
As for the Singapore market, Refash will launch a web-based self-listing platform at the end of February that will allow women to sell their clothes to willing buyers. “We will do the procurement on behalf of the seller, we collect the pieces from the sellers and then fulfil the order on their behalf,” Sng explained.
What has he observed about the Malaysian market? According to Sng, the response from Malaysian shoppers has been very encouraging. “They look at the quality of the items, whether the items are still in-trend, the brands actually do not matter. What matters is that the item is still in like-new condition.
He added that Refash has plans to push its concept out to more cities in Malaysia, not just Kuala Lumpur. The plan is to go to Penang in a few months’ time. “If not permanent retail stores, we will have at least three pop-up stores in Malaysia.”
According to Sng, Refash is also improving the backend support to make selling clothes easier for sellers. The company has partnered with Ninja Van Malaysia, so that once sellers start to send in their items, they can actually arrange for their own courier delivery via the Refash website.
Sng shared that Refash plans to go into other regional markets this year, namely Indonesia and Vietnam. “With all the clothes we receive from Singapore and Malaysia, we will find distributors in Vietnam and Indonesia to push them out to all the small boutiques who can sell the clothes on our behalf. So it’s about expanding the sales network, into other Southeast Asia cities. That’s part of the plan as well.”
In April last year, Refash graduated from the Singapore Press Holdings Plug & Play accelerator programme and in September, raised US$294,000 in a seed round, led by Singapore’s Tri5 Ventures, Malaysia-based Tinkbig Ventures and an unnamed angel investor. The next big plan for Refash is to obtain Series A funding this year and Sng said he is currently in talks with a few venture capitalists.