WSJ News Exclusive | Urban Outfitters to Take On Poshmark With Its Own Thrift Store App

Urban Outfitters Inc.

URBN 3.21%

will launch a marketplace for secondhand goods, seeking to turn its customers into sellers and keep them from turning to online resellers such as

Poshmark Inc.

POSH 0.38%

and thredUP Inc.

The company’s Nuuly Thrift, launching as an iPhone app this fall, will join a growing list of peer-to-peer services from retail chains. The companies stand to collect commissions on resales while they risk cannibalizing sales of new merchandise.

“Our job is to grow,” said

David Hayne,

president of Nuuly and chief technology officer for Urban Outfitters. “From a thrift standpoint, we know that if we don’t provide the platform it’s not going to keep sellers from selling on other platforms. These secondhand experiences are happening whether we’re playing in them or not.”

The Nuuly brand started as an apparel-rental service in 2019.



Photo:

Hannah Yoon for The Wall Street Journal

Lululemon Athletica Inc.,

Levi Strauss

& Co. and

Macy’s Inc.

have expanded into the secondhand market, which has become a popular alternative to fast fashion among younger consumers. About 42% of Gen Z shoppers purchased secondhand fashion in 2020, according to GlobalData PLC, which prepared the research for thredUP.

Online clothing-rental service Rent the Runway, which confidentially filed for an initial public offering in July, expanded its push into secondhand apparel last year after surviving a drop in revenue as the coronavirus pandemic kept people home from work and special events.

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Earlier this month, Poshmark and thredUP reported strong sales gains in their latest quarters. Urban Outfitters and its brands, including Anthropologie and Free People, are already popular on such marketplaces. Nuuly Thrift gives the retailer a chance to tap into its existing customers who haven’t tried selling their used items, Mr. Hayne said.

Urban Outfitters will let sellers list products from any brand on Nuuly Thrift but plans to offer a more curated experience than its competitors, Mr. Hayne said.

While open marketplaces are able to capture more supply by not putting strict limits on what users can sell, curated marketplaces can offer customers current trends, Mr. Hayne said. “We want to try and strike a balance,” he said.

The Nuuly brand started as an apparel-rental service in 2019. It lost subscribers in 2020 during the pandemic but has experienced a rebound since the spring of this year with subscriber numbers rising beyond pre-pandemic levels, Mr. Hayne said.

Nuuly employees at the Urban Outfitters headquarters in Philadelphia in 2019.



Photo:

Hannah Yoon for The Wall Street Journal

Write to Charity L. Scott at [email protected]

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