Shinjuku, Harajuku, Ginza, Nakameguro... when you think of clothes shopping in Japan, these Tokyo neighborhoods are most likely what spring to mind. For the average Westerner, a resell app might not possess anywhere near the same pizazz as the destinations mentioned, yet local-market online resell is a development that has taken Japan by storm.

The success of Japan's resell platforms can be attributed to myriad factors, but fundamentally it boils down to the country's endless love affair with all things vintage. Not only that, there are outrageous bargains to be found. visvim Christos for under $100, anyone? And then there's Japan's mottainai culture, in which waste that can be avoided should be avoided. This philosophy has taken on renewed significance amid the world's climate and environmental crises.

You might have heard of Mercari, the eBay-like service that was Japan's first tech startup unicorn, or Yahoo! Auctions, which we explained here, but now a new wave of resell apps is emerging from the startup ether to challenge their duopoly.

One such up-and-comer is OR NOT, a venture that brings our attention to archival pieces from some of fashion's biggest names. The service aims to frame used items in a new light, tapping the local fashion cognoscenti to explain items and brands via editorials and other content. Think Grailed but with fewer hormonal teenage boys trying to hustle you.

To get the full lowdown, we spoke to OR NOT, who told us what sets it from other platforms and what users can expect of the service.

Where is OR NOT based?

OR NOT is based in Tokyo, but the products we handle are submitted from archive stores all over Japan. We're planning to buy and list items owned by individual collectors in the future, as well as products from international archive stores.

What was the motivation for starting the platform?

I felt a sense of duty when I discovered how luxury brands are destroying excess inventory. I also considered how the cycle of consumption is simply getting faster and faster in accordance with trends. Japan has the most ordered resell market in the world and we want to expand that system internationally.

How does OR NOT differ from other resell services?

We want to move away from the idea of "used clothing." We believe that kind of thinking is wrong and that's why we use the term "archive" — to raise the value of the product. We tap the knowledge of fashion icons like Poggy and other designers to explain the charm and backstory of the archives, and also enlist professional stylists to showcase the product.

OR NOT uses new technologies for the authentication process, and carries out extensive screenings so that only reliable sellers may submit to the platform.

Which brands are seen most commonly on OR NOT?

Besides Raf Simons and Maison Margiela, we handle products by Japanese brands such as Yohji Yamamoto and COMME des GARÇONS. We also plan to hold pop-up events with NUMBER (N)INE and UNDERCOVER in the future.

What kind of customer do you want to attract?

We want our customers to feel at ease buying archives from all over Japan. And by "ease," we're not just referring to the product's authenticity. For example, import duties and shipping fees differ from country to country when selling internationally, but we are trying to keep things simple by including import duties and shipping fees in our listed prices. We are also doing our best to keep down the number of returns after purchase by listing not only the sizing but also the measurements of our products.

And what problems are you looking to avoid?

We must make sure our customers aren't disappointed when their product arrives. We shouldn’t sell counterfeits, obviously, but we’re also collaborating with our business partners so there won’t be any miscommunication in regard to the condition or sizing of the product. We’re also doing our best not to sell anything that will damage a designer’s reputation.

What is the ultimate goal of OR NOT?

We want to raise awareness about the industry's output of waste so people can hopefully become more aware of sustainability and archival fashion. We also want the archives to last as a culture rather than just a fad. We don't want a designer’s really outstanding works to be consumed and then tossed away, but instead passed down the generations.

Of all the sales channels in the steadily growing luxury brand market, online shopping has enjoyed the most tremendous growth. There's increased demand for branded designer clothing in the menswear market — sneakers being the most prominent example — meaning the resale market has intensified.

Archives have gained worldwide attention in the fashion industry in recent years. Moreover, along with the boom in flea market apps in Japan, the reuse market has been scaling up every year. This applies particularly to used Japanese designer clothes, which are highly regarded overseas.

Previously, flea market apps and e-commerce platforms have sold everything from fast fashion to luxury brands on the same platform. That’s where OR NOT comes in: by creating a platform specialized in branded designer clothing only — inviting stylists, designers, editors, and others in the industry who align with our service's philosophy of “one step ahead of uniqueness” — we present a new worldview.

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