Each week, Just Style’s editors select a deal that illustrates the themes driving change in our sector. The deal may not always be the largest in value, or the highest profile. But we select it because of what it tells us about where the leading companies are focusing their efforts, and why. We pick apart the deal itself, and the industry theme behind it. This new, thematic deal coverage is driven by our underlying Disruptor data, which tracks all major deals, patents, company filings, hiring patterns and social media buzz across our sectors.
Inside the Swoperz deal
Swoperz, the pre-loved marketplace “run by kids and managed by grown-ups”, has secured £250,000 in a pre-Seed round led by early-stage venture capital firm Jenson Funding Partners.
Founded in 2021 by Charlene Hurlock and Vicky Fuller, the funding will be used to further build a robust, scalable platform that is a safe, online-verified environment for the next generation.
Swoperz was born after Hurlock and Fuller noticed that their children loved swapping clothes and sharing wardrobes when visiting each other’s homes. After seeing how this empowered their children to celebrate their own style and think more about the environment, Hurlock and Fuller realised second-hand clothing options were limited for children under the age of 16.
Swoperz is a subscription-based marketplace costing £14.99 a month. It empowers children in their clothing choices whilst being environmentally-friendly as they can swap great quality, pre-loved clothes as many times as they like. Children are reimbursed with tokens when they upload an item and can use these tokens to “pay for” a different item on the platform. The user-verified environment allows children to swap in safety.
Swoperz is committed to building a platform that prioritises safety and security. It has partnered with TrustElevate, the only secure, accurate and privacy-preserving provider of child age verification and parental consent to create an age-appropriate safe space for children and their families.
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Swoperz will also allow children across the UK to swap their pre-loved school uniforms free of charge, without requiring a subscription, so adults will have one less expense to worry about whilst protecting the environment. Swoperz plans to develop these partnerships to create hubs for swapping school uniforms and sports kits, as well as creating pop-up swap shops throughout the country.
Charlene Hurlock and Vicky Fuller, Founders of Swoperz, says: “We want our kids to be in control of their fashion, but also environmentally conscious in their choices. This is why we’ve created Swoperz…Our platform can help parents budget better with ever-changing clothing requests from children, get kids excited about saving the planet, and instil a sense of responsibility and empowerment through our token system. We want to help children build positive, sustainable consumption habits whilst growing the circular economy and never compromising on their individuality.”
Sarah Barber, CEO of Jenson Funding Partners, adds: “Swoperz is a sustainable solution that is having a positive impact on the environment by decreasing overconsumption of clothes, an industry that is notoriously wasteful. It’s also empowering children to express themselves through style, which is amazing to see. When children have so much independence in other aspects of their lives, such as by owning their own bank card or purchasing products online, it only makes sense that Charlene and Vicky have created a safe environment for children to enjoy clothes without breaking their parents’ budgets, or putting further strain on our planet.”
Here’s why the deal matters
Elaborating further on the decision to invest in Swoperz, Barber tells Just Style the appeal is its mission to enable individuals and households to become “more sustainable and reduce their impact on the planet.” It joins the likes of The Seam | Care & repair services for people and brands, another circular economy company in Jenson’s portfolio.
For Swoperz, the investment will support its growth journey, notes Barber. However, she says, it also brings attention to early-stage investing and possibilities available to other sustainable brands looking to launch in this field.
“There is definitely an opportunity for growth in this area. Jenson recently launched its Aurora I fund which will be investing in early-stage companies enabling the transition to Net Zero.”
According to GlobalData, as discretionary incomes become increasingly squeezed, consumers are turning to alternative, cheaper methods for purchasing clothes, including the resale market – and brands are embracing this trend to satisfy demand.
Speaking to Just Style exclusively, Louise Deglise-Favre, apparel analyst at GlobalData explains that where Swoperz differs from traditional resale platforms is that it is a swapping platform and the end user is primarily children.
“That’s interesting and different and I can see its appeal from a funding perspective,” she says adding that this point of difference sets it apart from other childrenswear resale platforms like Dotte which recently collapsed.
She notes it could be a real success story as long as it is managed well but warns, like many resale platforms, it will likely take a good deal of funding to get it to a point where it is profitable. She points to Vinted which she says has been operating quite a while and is only now becoming profitable after a huge marketing spend to get it where it needed to be.
“The good thing about the subscription model it follows is that it is a regular income stream when compared to relying on just fees for example. But the subscription needs to be priced high enough to cover the operational fee of the platform.”
Key takeaways for the fashion industry
Mainstream fashion brands and retailers are being encouraged to take heed of the resale opportunity.
Barber says she has seen a “shift in major retailers’ attitudes towards resale and increasing their target amounts sold via resale items thus commercialising the circular economy”.
With more fashion brands looking to respond to a growing consumer shift to “consume” better, investments in the resale space will continue to rise.
“Maybe not this specific business model of swapping platforms, but resale platforms in general,” Deglise-Favre says. “Also, this is an investment company funding a player, but I do think retailers will also invest in this area, whether building platforms themselves or partnering with existing resale players.”
In fact, Deglise-Favre adds the space will prove a threat to mainstream retailers if they “do not at least try to retain some of that spend that is shifting.”
However, she warns as more retailers jump on the resale bandwagon, take Zara for example with the launch of its pre-owned platform, it is important it is driven forward as a way of encouraging sustainable fashion consumption rather than simply becoming a “performative or checkbox exercise”.
“Today’s consumers are smart and are very aware of when they are being greenwashed. Brands risk failure and tarnishing their entire reputation if this is not executed and delivered in a positive way.”