I Just Don't Know


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.)

0 thoughts on “I Just Don't Know

  1. FYI — eBay is also about to unveil a whole new search feature that also includes a “shop by color” option.The whole thing has some good points and some bad points. I think you can still check it out by looking for a link near the top of your screen that says “Sneak Peek: See what’s changing on eBay”


  2. I took a look, and I’m not impressed. There are no plus-size items for sale or trade, and I’m not interested in paying $30 for a kitschy T-shirt. I would be much more likely to use eBay, or consign/donate my own clothing. It’s an interesting idea, but unless more people join the site it’s a dud…


  3. I’m inclined to agree with Jennifer. It’s a dud site even if the users seem earnest and interested. I’m not sure this would be a viable way for me to sell clothing which is what I do for a living. I sell vintage, but if I were just clearing out my closet, this sure seems like a lot of work to me. If I had a spendy contemporary designer label to sell, I’d be inclined to sell it on eBay or just drop it for consignment rather than list it on this startup. After all, who’s shopping this site?Perhaps this would be a good tool to use to network to sell more similar stuff (say, certain sizes and designers that you could sell to a couple of people or a shop.) If I had something I was looking for specifically, I might buy on the site. There’s a pair of shoes I have that I’d love to buy again, but I’d have to be able to save a search (like you can on eBay) and be notified when those particular shoes in my size become available. (Hello, needle in haystack. Are you out there?) I do think matching aesthetics and tastes would be a great way to browse closets. I’m not sure how one accomplishes that, though. Some of my friends hold clothing swap parties. They bring whatever they don’t want for trade with other friends. That seems like a fun thing to do.


  4. Interesting, it’s rather like bookmooch, but for clothes. Obviously you need a large and diverse user base for this to work really well. There’s a swap group on flickr that is quite active, though the demographics tend toward the young and small. I have seen a lot more swap parties and reuse things happening in my area, so there is interest.I don’t know whether someone like the Gap really wants to be involved in something like this – wouldn’t they much rather sell you something new? Maybe a brand that has a ‘green’ approach might be interested.


  5. Hi,Don’t think it will succeed mainly because as has been commented already, Ebay is expanding functionalities and people will not use every niche blog out there.Rarther than getting big retail players in the picture, it would be more clever (and cheaper) to write a Facebook application that would use Facebook’s existing Network.Google is also opening up its data for applications btw.CheersChi-Waichi-wai.com


  6. Hi, dressaday:I’m one of the co-founders of OURthreads and read your post with interest. We are nice people and appreciate you noticing. Your comments, and those of your readers, are very interesting and have provided some great feedback for us. When we created OURthreads we were trying to create a place where people could go to realize value for items they owned (whether they designed them or just didn’t like the style any more). Our goal has been to create a community that is friendly, personal, and easy to navigate. Whether we succeed in the end will be up to our users. Admittedly, we are small and don’t have much of a marketing budget to extend our reach just yet.In any event, thanks for taking a look and we look forward to the comments (especially those that are critical). They make us better.


  7. Nobody wants my old clothes! Even I don’t want them as I wear my stuff out and since half of it is homesewn and plus sized, I don’t think there is a market for my old rags. I’m hard to fit in the best of times and I’m amazed that people can buy stuff on line and it will fit them!


  8. I don’t know, the idea sounds interesting to me. I have had awful luck with E-bay and have sworn it off, and it would be nice to make a little money off of the things that I have but don’t wear. The problem, of course, is user base. But how will they ever get one if no one signs up?


  9. Having looked at it, the thing I find most annoying is that when you look at an item and then push “back”, you have to enter your search all over again.


  10. I would rather buy or sell stuff than trade it, and there’s not enough people there to make it worth my while. I’m getting ready to sell some of my clothes on the livejournal group inbetweenies, where it’s all for sizes 12-18. I’ve bought clothes on there before too.


  11. I like the idea of it, but I’m not sold on the actual site yet. I will have to check back in a while to see if the user base has grown. Until then, I will continue to free-shop in my sister’s voluminous closet!


  12. I would rather make my own clothes that fit my immenseness and compliment my less than youthful skintones with totally inappropriate for my age prints and ruffles. I would be interested though in the unusual sweater that is fitted and pretty, without the bag, sag and typical birhouses on them. I’d look, but probably not buy.As well; I give my discharged items in good shape to charity.


  13. I took a quick look, and it just wouldn’t work for me. I could see a lot of other folks getting into it, seems like a nice group running it, but the prices are generally too high and the choices too limited for my tastes. I’d rather spend an hour browsing the local church resale shop than navigating and clicking on this site. The real time thrift shop gives you an additional free perk: the thrill of the hunt!


  14. I think the big ‘plus’ for requiring users to photograph their own actual item (rather than being able to ‘tag’ it off the website they bought it) is that you can see exactly what kind of condition it is in and, once you get to high-ish end brands, whether it is genuine. I’m a member of a forum that has a lot of clothing swaps go on, and discrepencies between users understanding of ‘as new’, or what can be done to a garment when it is ‘worn once’ are the cause of a bit of angst.


  15. Clothing/shoe sizes on OurThreads need to be obvious on the first page you see. I don’t want to have to click 3-4 times to find the size then realize I was wasting time looking in a closet where nothing fits. Was I missing something?


  16. I know what you mean! So many websites that are good ideas just never seem to take off.But hey if it’s a free service, it can’t hurt to give it a go.


  17. USED CLOTHES??? YES YES YESI shop thrift stores for practically all my clothes. What you see is what you get–it’s been washed and worn so it if still looks great you know there will be no surprises after YOU wash and wear it. I routinely buy Liz Claiborne, Ann Taylor and other brands that make it such fun to go in a thrift store–it’s just like a treasure hunt. And kids clothing there is GREAT. All those brands it kills you for your kid to grow out of–painless when you get it for a few bucks….just say YES to used clothing!!


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