Curtsy, an app that lets women buy and sell clothing, shoes, and accessories from their phones, announced today that it has raised $11 million in Series A funding. The funding, led by Index Ventures, will enable Curtsy to scale, build out a stellar team, and continue to gain market share by simplifying resale for the casual seller.
“The giants in the clothing resale space have been around for a while and haven’t done a great job appealing to casual sellers or keeping up with the times,” said cofounder David Oates. “Most apps focus on closet cleanout, ignoring the Gen Z use case of rotating their wardrobe.”
Curtsy was founded as an app for women in sororities to rent dresses from each other. After a successful first semester at Ole Miss, Curtsy applied and was accepted to Y Combinator. The company quickly expanded its presence in campuses across the country and launched shipping to allow rentals between schools in early 2018. The team realized that the most requested feature—to buy and sell clothes instead of just rent—was the bigger opportunity. The app has grown 10X since 2019 and is facilitating tens of millions of dollars in transaction volume. In October 2020, Curtsy facilitated the sale of 85,000 items, an increase of 35% since September.
“Consumer-to-consumer ecommerce, first pioneered by eBay, continues to be unbundled. Dedicated platforms are rising that have a tighter relationship with their users and that facilitate more frictionless ways to transact a certain type of good. Curtsy has accomplished exactly this for young women and their desire to buy and sell clothing. Never before have we seen such a strong overlap between buyers and sellers on a consumer-to-consumer marketplace. We believe the incredible love for Curtsy is indicative of a large marketplace in the making,” said Damir Becirovic of Index Ventures.
The explosive growth is a testament to the company’s go-to-market strategy, which was to focus on Gen Z women, aged 15-30, who are underserved by the major players in the space. Despite the proliferation of resale apps over the last decade, the status quo is still dropping off bags of clothing at Goodwill—20 million tons of clothing still end up in landfills each year. In part, this is because existing clothing resale apps demand a lot of work from users in order to sell. Sellers have to figure out how to best merchandise and price their items, grow their audience, and manually fulfill orders. As a result, existing apps are primarily used by professional sellers who are more profit-driven than casual sellers. There is no app focused exclusively on Gen Z women, the fastest growing segment in the space.
Curtsy saw that the best inventory was sitting in the closets of everyday women who weren’t selling on apps because of the friction involved. The team also recognized that buyer behavior had fundamentally shifted—Gen Z buys 60% more clothing than previous generations, but keeps them half as long. Existing apps that centered around cleaning out the closet, as opposed to rotation, had not adapted to this shift. Gen Z demands a more sustainable, simple option for clothing resale.
Curtsy radically simplifies selling in order to win casual sellers and unlock their closets. Using machine learning and human review, the app helps sellers effectively merchandise their items. When sellers list items, Curtsy recommends a price and autofills details, like category and brand, to reduce errors. Before items are shown in the app, Curtsy improves the images, fixes issues with the listing, and removes spam. These steps have the effect of standardizing listings across sellers, which makes for a delightful shopping experience.
By creating a meritocratic environment where followers and clout don’t matter, Curtsy lowers the barriers to entry for new sellers. In addition, Curtsy removes the friction from order fulfillment by providing Curtsy-branded shipping supplies that sellers can use to package their items from home and the app helps them schedule a free USPS pickup, so sellers don’t have to drive to the post-office. Buyers can resell items purchased on Curtsy with one-tap, without having to photograph or describe the item again.
Curtsy is an app that lets women buy and sell clothing, shoes, and accessories from their phones. The app uses machine learning and human review to help sellers merchandise their items in the best way and provides sellers with a Shipping Kit to remove the friction from order fulfillment. The app was founded by David Oates, William Ault, Clara Agnes Ault, and Eli Allen and participated in Y Combinator. It has raised $14.5 million to date.