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On the Radar: Smashion, for people with a passion for fashion

Posted by Scott Kirsner  July 15, 2009 03:25 PM

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Occasionally, I'll let you know about a new company in town that's worth having on your radar screen. These aren't in-depth stories, just "quick hits" that'll let you know what I'm hearing about, and invite you to check out their sites for yourself.

Launching this month is a new site, Smashion, that aims to outdo eBay when it comes to buying and selling apparel and accessories. No offices or funding yet -- it's a virtual company still, using Amazon's cloud computing services.

Daniel Ruan, part of the three-person founding team, e-mailed this morning:

    Smashion is a free, community-based platform connecting buyers and sellers with a passion for fashion. Members can buy and sell lightly worn or NWT [new with tag] clothing, accessories, footwear without paying listing or transaction fees, and in the mean time express their styles and connect with others around fashion trends. The site is in response to the growing trend in second-hand clothing and the lack of a dedicated, professional-looking, and free online fashion commerce site (think the exact opposite: eBay).

They've been running a closed beta test since May, but are just starting to promote the site openly this month. I asked Ruan what the business model was, since they're not charging eBay-style listing or transaction fees. He replied via e-mail:

    We actually started with a transaction-fee based business model, as all e-commerce sites would do... Then we did a careful revenue model analysis, and found out we would have to have a very substantial sales volume to generate decent revenue. If we make it free and rely on advertising and affiliated marketing, we could realize more revenue with a lower sales volume. Besides, a free site could potentially attract more users and traffic.

On the phone, Ruan confessed that he doesn't really have "a passion for fashion" himself -- though his wife does -- and that his résumé does not include any gigs as a runway model. Rather, he said that after doing several business-to-business start-ups (his last venture was the offshore services company DoubleBridge Technologies, funded by IDG Ventures China), he wanted to try something consumer-oriented.

This company is part of a curious little cluster of fashion-oriented start-ups in Boston, including Paragon Lake (jewelry), SpreadShirt (t-shirts), Karmaloop (streetwear), Stylefeeder (shopping recommendations), Sole Envie (customized women's shoes), and Blank Label (customized dressy clothes.)

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Innovation and technology news that matters, on a new website from the Boston Globe, featuring Scott Kirsner and other original reporting.

About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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