I Just Don’t Know

by Erin on September 24, 2007


I've had this site, OurThreads.com, open in my browser for a week, trying to decide whether to blog about it.

The pros:

  • it's a site that promotes swapping of clothes as well as buying/selling
  • it lets users donate the money they make from their closets to the charitable cause of their choice
  • the interface looks pretty nice

The cons:

  • sites like this are only as good as their user base, and their user base right now (although they all seem like very nice people!) isn't very large
  • it's only slightly less trouble to take pictures and list items on a site like this as it is for eBay, and eBay would probably net you more money
  • there were only 19 dresses listed when I last checked.

Anyway, I'm not sold yet. I think what would really make this site work is a something like Amazon's "Resell Your Books" feature. Sign up a few big online clothing retailers (GAP.com, Amazon, Bluefly, Overstock.com, Zappos, etc.), and get them to let OurThreads.com users upload their purchase histories. Match people who have similar sizes/purchase histories, and then alert them to each other and see if they want to trade.

They could also let you (with a widget/bookmarklet) "shop" on other, non-partner sites and mark things you've bought, which would add that thing automatically to your "closet".

For every person who says "eeeew … used clothes?" there will be two who will buy that extra sweater if they know they can sell or swap it in a few months for something new-to-them.

Having people upload their own stuff is so old-web, and too much work. Make it passive, or nearly passive, and you're more than halfway there. A really useful site would know/figure out (with my permission) what I've already bought, and then would ping me when people who have similar tastes mark the stuff THEY already bought with a "willing to trade/sell" marker.

So I pose the questions to you, my dear readers. Would you use a site like OurThreads.com, as it is now? Would you take pictures of your stuff, describe it, put it up on this site, and then field requests to trade a pair of barely-worn GAP grass-green ballet flats for your barely-worn grass-green cardigan? (Not that I have a pair of shoes like that gathering dust in MY closet …) I'm not sure I would. But I'd sign up for a passive, automatic-info-gathering clothing-swap site in a heartbeat …

(And while I'm talking about advances in shopping tech — someone has finally implemented my dream of a shop-by-color application. It's here at Yahoo! Shopping. Of course, in my dream it was by Pantone, but hey. You take what you can get. Now do you see why my pitch for a shopping-by-color service got third place in the Web 1.0 pitch contest at Wikimania 2006? Vindication is suh-weet.)

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