Swag Kicks, which calls itself a sustainable fashion platform for Millennials and Gen-Z Pakistanis, announced on Thursday that it has closed a seed round of $1.2 million led by i2i Ventures.
International venture capital (VC) firms Techstars Toronto, CrossFund HongKong, Rose Lake Ventures, i5 Capital, STAK group and other angels also invested in the seed round, the company announced in a statement.
Swag Kicks, which offers preloved (secondhand) fashion items including, sneakers, bags, apparel to accessories on its digital platform, after “washing and disinfecting” them, aims to “dominate” the growing secondhand markets.
Talking to Business Recorder, Nofal Khan, the CEO at Swag Kicks, said his company “bridges the gap” for customers seeking branded products, by sourcing global fashion products from across the world and offering them in Pakistan.
“In Pakistan, if you want to purchase a branded shoe i.e. Adidas or Nike, the customer can purchase them from their outlets, which is very costly. The options available in the market are very limited, and the products offered are not very durable or appealing design-wise. There is a gap in the local market,” said Nofal.
The company cited an estimate by Morgan Stanley that stated secondhand marketplaces are growing, with estimates predicting that the global market will grow 127% by 2026 to an estimated $218 billion.
“The concept of using preloved or secondhand items is also nothing new in Pakistan and has been the norm for decades. The country is one of the largest importers of used clothes and in July and August 2021 alone, imported 186,299 metric tons of preloved clothing, registering a growth of over 283% as compared to the same period in 2020.”
Moreover, there is no shortage of thrift markets in Pakistan, with places including Light House already very popular among the public.
However, Swag Kicks says it offers more variety, over 25,000 listed items, and high-quality products than what is available at a random secondhand market in the country.
“Products available at thrift markets are mostly C-category, whereas, we offer A-grade products, which are re-exported to countries as well,” added Khan.
The Swag Kicks CEO said the company intends to utilise the latest funding to consolidate its market position in Pakistan.
“We need a bigger facility to process our growing inventory. We would set up a larger inbound facility. Moreover, the funds would be spent on marketing, inventory procurement etc,” he said.
The company said that unlike other thrift markets, which struggle with scaling their operations, Swag Kicks intends to expand and offer its services worldwide using its propriety technology, ThriftOps, an inventory-management software developed in-house.
“ThriftOps allows us to unlock our scalability potential, the software allows us to access preloved fashion markets globally, while also carrying out tasks of inventory management, warehousing, and purchasing as well,” said Khan.
Swag Kicks’ co-founders include Mateen Ansari and Hamza Abid in addition to Nofal Khan.
While Abid has extensive experience in trading preloved fashion globally, Ansari has worked with Daraz, The Luxury Closet and Careem, added the statement.