Natalia Pukharova was a personal buyer for Moscow fashion’s elite. Possessing a deep inside of knowledge of brands and designers, she parlayed it into the creation of Spin4Spin, Russia's answer to Grailed.
“When a person spends $20,000 to $40,000 on clothing per season, at some point they’re eventually going to run out of space in their wardrobe,” Pukharova explains. “They need to put it somewhere.” It was this thinking that gave her the idea for a comprehensive resale project.
At first, all clothes were kept in Pukharova’s apartment, essentially rendering it an ad-hoc consignment store for people in the know. Eventually, the collection outgrew the space. A client noticed that Pukharova had to expand, and luckily enough, he had the business acumen to help her do so. After moving into a brick and mortar location, the best kept fashion secret in the city soon became a go-to spot for not only fashion aficionados, but rappers and pop artists, too.
We caught up with Natalia and spoke about the growth of the project, customer service, brand identity, and why it’s almost impossible to resell Tom Ford’s Gucci Suits.
Did you look at existing companies as a reference when forming Spin4Spin?
We looked at several platforms. We wanted to create a great service with a full range of things. Do you want to clear your closet or be dressed for a certain occasion in 15 minutes? We can do both. Whether you need to find something unique, or your coveted pieces need repairing and cleaning, we can help. Like a first-class gardener who does everything in your lawn. We didn’t want to make an average marketplace.
Was sustainability included in the initial idea of Spin4Spin, or did it appear later on?
Russian industry tends to follow Western trends. Everything is going to become authentic in about two years. Also, the average income in the country is much lower compared to the US, for instance. So, most people here don’t really think about buying luxury clothing in the first place, they have other basic needs to care about, but many of our young customers — especially from the art scene — pay close attention to ecological issues.
They don’t want tons of useless stuff in their apartments and don’t want to over-consume, either. From some point, it is like an excuse if you have this habit of buying new, but you try to keep this circle of clothing spinning all the time as you sell it to someone else and don't throw it away. Often this second life of a garment helps another person to finally find what they were looking for. It creates a museum-feeling.
You carry brands like NUMBER (N)INE which are not so hyped. Do make a conscious attempt to educate your audience?
It’s a very complex story. First of all, we stock trend-proof clothing. We are lucky to have a very engaged audience who are looking for rare stuff — such as NUMBER (N)INE — that is not easy to get.
Speaking about the educational aspect, folks that work here are in their 20s and clothing is a huge part of their lives. You can find 17-year-old customers who save money to come here and buy a unique piece. It is very cool to know that kids know, for example, who Carol Christian Poell is.
Gen Z and Millennial consumers are set to account for more than 60 percent of total luxury spending by 2026. However, most of them are looking for “entry-level items” with logos to convey their status. Do you try to balance it with more sophisticated stuff in your selection?
We have a certain brand list that helps us choose what we need. For example, we will not buy Tom Ford’s Gucci — it is almost impossible to resell. We have some jeans in stock that are more or less in demand. People often bring us Ford’s Gucci suits and leather jackets.
Customers want to sell those for a pretty high price, and commission makes it even higher. So they become not the most desirable items. If a person wants to sell contemporary Gucci or Off-White™ — no problem.
Sometimes, if an item doesn't sell in 90 days, we offer it to charity. We try to work with our customers so they buy something remarkable rather than just hyped things with logos. That’s why there are cases when a young Russian artist participates in the local TV show wearing a Dior suit that is older than him.
Communication is a crucial aspect for a business like yours. Could you explain how you are working on it?
We try to make our service as effortless as possible, including the digital realm. In a personal account that we provide, a person can track whether their item sold or not, how many items are left, how much they earned, etc. Also, you can order a fitting — in Moscow we provide same-day shipping. We are very flexible as we are still far from being huge. If a client wants to come for a fitting at our place at 2 a.m., usually we can make it. We don’t like endless amounts of emails and SMS notifications.
How do you form the prices for certain garments that are very hype-driven? Do you look at other resale platforms?
First of all, we look at our statistics. We also want to integrate this “calculator” to the website. So, a customer could download the picture of an item, state its brand, and the item name and the system would automatically count the approximate price. We also look at the prices on other platforms, like Grailed. The client’s preferences are another factor in this equation. For instance, if they want to sell a Saint Laurent piece that is the only one in the world for $10,000, that’s fine with us. We also have a rental program apart from the resale component. An expensive item can be rented several times.
The resale market is very saturated. To stand out from the rest you need to form a very distinctive identity and sometimes take risks. How do you work on that?
It is not our goal to stand out — we want to do our work the best we can. We have a strong creative team that makes original content rather than just stealing and appropriating.
What are your future plans?
The best-case scenario for us would be to open several physical places in all the big Russian cities, and in the USA and Europe. We’ve already registered our business name in the United States.