Saritoria is still focusing its business in India on the luxury end of the market due in part to the overall weight of the wedding industry. If the bride is buying new, guests still need something to wear. The company believes being niche is what will make them a change maker in the South Asian fashion market. “In the few weeks since our soft launch, we have had brides from within India make offers, and many attendees on our site,” says Soomro. She points to the fact that the average Indian wedding has anywhere between 300 to 1,000 guests, all of whom prefer not to repeat their clothes.
For those who don’t want to buy used, rental is another option. Indian customers outside of India have been shopping at Front Row, a London-based luxury rental service founded by Shikha Bodani. Bodani says that after adding South Asian occasion wear to the site two years ago, the company has seen an uptick in interest. “We have seen a huge increase in demand for our Indian wear particularly after lockdown,” says Bodani. “We have more clients booking in for our Indian wear than our Western wear currently. Women particularly rent heavier pieces for occasions such as the wedding, reception and sangeet [a pre-wedding ceremony].”
Rental is also picking up within India, but at a much slower pace. “We are a land enamored by wealth and consumerism. The wedding is a way to showcase success, and an ostentatious lifestyle denotes power,” says Brijeshwari Kumari Gandhi, of Mumbai-based auction house Prinseps explains. She feels some Indian families may take time to warm-up to the idea of thrifting, though she notes there is a niche set of influential conscious luxury shoppers. For now though, designer Gupta predicts that brides in India may use these platforms as a way to give their own wedding closet a second life, with brides outside of India being the main buyers.
Saritoria’s Soomro also acknowledges that education is needed in India around thrifting as a concept. About one-third of Saritoria’s budget is spent on marketing, she says, particularly influencer marketing. They have already worked with key influencers such as Netherlands-based Diipa Buller Khosla (who has an Instagram following of more than 1.4 million). Saritoria items can already be bought worldwide, from sellers in India and the UK and they hope to add countries that have a high South Asian diaspora, such as America and Hong Kong. In these countries, finding good Indian designer bridal wear can be a task. Indian fashion bridal wear is coveted by brides from neighbouring countries too, and Saritoria will also be looking to stock labels from the entire South Asian region — giving Indian brides a chance to buy something from Pakistan, for example.
Poshmark plans to lean on India’s local influencers and celebrities to drive user acquisition, particularly those that are “sustainability-driven and budget savvy”, says Balasubramanian, mirroring a strategy used to grow Poshmark in US, Canada and Australia. It will also host events designed to educate those new to Poshmark.
Players in the region are hoping attitudes shift about secondhand. “Trendsetters within India are now realising they need to be more conscious about their spending habits and seeing the coolness of buying on the secondary market,” says Soomro.
Correction, 6 September 2021: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated in paragraph four that Saritoria launched its website in August. The resale site launched in June.
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