Episode 172: Unpacking our relationship with ultra fast fashion with Danielle Vermeer (part 2)

It’s the second half of Amanda’s conversation with Danielle Vermeer, co-founder and CEO of Teleport, “a next-gen thrifting app to discover, buy, and sell from outfit videos.” They will be talking about greenwashing, PSYOPs, and online conversations around secondhand shopping…and so much more!  Amanda gets things started with an in-depth look at a brand that seems to be flourishing in the era of ultra fast fashion, Dolls Kill.

Download the Teleport app.

Additional reading:
“SF fashion startup Dolls Kill accused of plagiarizing independent designs,” Ariana Bindman, SFGATE.
“Why Are People Boycotting Dolls Kill? An Explainer,” Julia Sachs, Grit Daily.
Two days after posting item from Dollskill using MY OWN photos they hit me with this (Reddit)
PSA/Warning Regarding Sale or Resell of any Dolls Kill merch (Reddit)
Is Dolls Kill Even Worse Than We Thought…?, Pixielocks (YouTube)

Special thanks to this episode’s sponsor, Osei-Duro! Find them on Instagram as @oseiduro.
Use promo code CLOTHESHORSE20 to get 20% off your order!


Welcome to Clotheshorse, the podcast that has a lot of feelings about the Delias styles being made by Dolls Kill.


I’m your host, Amanda and this is episode 172.  I’m back from an awesome week in Mexico City. The trip wasn’t without its own bits of chaos: for one, an entire restaurant sang Happy Birthday to me while I was alone at a table. And I also drank vinegar because I was too lazy/distracted to read the label on a bottle. 


So yes, I’m back, I still think salt and vinegar is the best flavor of potato chips, and today we will be getting into part two of my conversation with  Danielle Vermeer, co-founder and CEO of Teleport. Teleport is “a next-gen thrifting app to discover, buy, and sell from outfit videos. We will be talking about greenwashing, PSYOPs, and online conversations around secondhand shopping…and so much more!


But before we get into that, in the last episode, I promised that this week I would give more background about two fast fashion brands that are really thriving in this new (and scary) era of ultra fast fashion: Temu and Dolls Kill. This week we are going to focus on Dolls Kill and I’ll dig into Temu next week. There’s just TOO MUCH to discuss about both of them!


So let’s get started with Dolls Kill.  If you don’t know this brand at all, don’t feel bad. It has a much more niche brand presence and customer base than say, Shein.

The Dolls Kill “About” page on its website says a lot about itself as a brand, while sharing very little words and lots of pictures.  In fact, the total text for that page is one quote from the founder, Shoddy Lynn, and then the words “we are back of the class and front of the club.”  Most About pages will talk about brand origins, brand values, maybe talk about its approach to ethics and sustainability, but Dolls Kill has been able to get away with (well, MOSTLY get away with) not talking about that kind of stuff for years now.


Dolls Kill positions itself as the brand for misfits and outsiders, and while I do think that is where it began, as a place for goths, ravers, and hyperfeminine kawaii lovers to find clothes, bags, shoes, and makeup, when the only place that was kinda serving them was Hot Topic. Over the past few years, it has become more focused on “collabs” that are really more licensing deals than an actual collaboration with properties like Delias, Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, Scooby Doo, and most recently, the game Candyland. The Candyland one makes me kind laugh because Dustin and I have been joking for weeks about movie studios making films based on board games now that Barbie has been successful.  Like imagine a Hungry Hungry Hippos movie? Or Connect Four?


And I see this expansion into licensing as a function of a few things that are at the core of Dolls Kill and its sort of “brand quandary.”

So let’s get started with how Dolls Kill began. I’m going to read this directly from Rachel Monroe’s excellent piece for the Atlantic, “ULTRA-FAST FASHION IS EATING THE WORLD:”


“Dolls Kill’s founders, Shaudi Lynn and Bobby Farahi, met at a rave. She was a DJ; he had recently sold his media company and was “partying,” he later told Inc. Farahi was impressed with Lynn’s fashion sense, and business acumen. She would buy something cute on eBay for $5, then turn around and sell it for $100. “She looked for items that were hard to find, that were viral in nature—items that made people say, ‘Hey, where did you get that?’ ” Farahi said. Lynn and Farahi began dating, and launched an online boutique in 2012. Lynn chose the name Dolls Kill because she liked the way the two words sounded together—one soft, one hard.

At first, they imagined that Dolls Kill would be a niche brand, popular mostly with club kids. But then something started to shift—the Burning Man aesthetic was creeping into the workaday world; festival culture went mainstream. Word began to circulate: If you wanted your #ootd to be colorful and weird and stand out on social media, Dolls Kill was a good place to shop.”


In the period between 2014 and 2019, there was a lot of spin around Dolls Kill in the business media world.  Here was this brand with a super niche customer base of festival goers, ravers, goths, and outsiders that was posing a threat to every retailer out there.  I’m not sure if that’s particularly true, but allegedly Dolls Kill was consistently profitable from the very beginning. Or at least, it was in the early years.  I suspect that is not the case now for many many reasons (we’ll get to some of them in a few), but it certainly was an appealing investment.  In 2014, Dolls Kill received $5 million in an initial round of investment funding.  $5 million sounds like a lot of money–and yes, I would definitely take it–but it’s not like THAT MUCH money in the world of retail and investment. But five years later in 2019, Dolls Kill raised another $40 million in investment as more people thought that it had the potential to be a “generation defining” brand. Now I’ll tell you this: I saw their fundraising deck during that period.  This would be the information that they shared with potential investors in hopes of attracting them, and I found it to be  the most–as the kids say–delulu thing I’ve seen in my career. And I’ve worked for some brands who had similarly unrealistic ideas about the future trajectory of their business.  One thing the deck claimed–that sticks with me even now–is that the business planned on hitting $1 billion in annual revenue in ten years.  My friend Shari and I laughed a lot about that at the time, because URBN–a massive company that includes Free People, Anthropologie, and Urban Outfitters–took about 30 years to cross the 1 billion  in annual sales mark.  And that’s a company with many, many stores and a wider base of customers in terms of age, aesthetic, and location…so how would Dolls Kill get there without some major shifts?


It’s hard to get a firm grasp of how much Dolls Kill did in sales last year, but it seems like it’s just over $100 million.  Not a tiny drop in the bucket, but not 1 billion either.

Here’s the thing: when you promise investors a billion dollars in sales each year, when you bring in that kind of investment, you’re committing to exponential growth year after year after year. You might remember how much we discussed that in the series about Etsy, how investment means constant aggressive growth and profitability. As Etsy has demonstrated, it’s hard to get to that level of sales and profitability without rapidly expanding your consumer base and really changing the way you do business across the board.

Dolls Kill made a lot of immediate changes. In the beginning, it primarily carried small cult brands. That kind of business will never scale to a highly profitable billion dollar brand because you won’t be able to get enough inventory from small brands and it won’t be as profitable. So it began to make more and more of its own private label product, creating its own in-house brands.  The thing with this kind of promised growth: you won’t ever get there without churning out a lot more product and offering your customer as much new stuff as possible as often as possible.  Because that’s the thing about turning the brand for “misfits” into a billion dollar company: your customer base is a lot smaller, so you better be getting your customer to shop there all the time.  Like at least once a week! Furthermore, when your brand focuses on festival wear as a year round way of life,  your customer ages out, so you need to get as much of their money as possible before they move on.  And you do that by constant newness, aggressive marketing, and a steady array of deals deals deals. Over time, we saw Dolls Kill offering more and more sales, more special collections, and just so much stuff.  


And then we start to see accusations of copied and stolen designs.  I will share some articles about these stories in the show notes, but one is particularly egregious, with the founder (Shoddy Lynn) paying a designer a couple hundred bucks to design and make a Halloween costume for her, then blatantly knocking it off of the Dolls Kill site.   We also see a lot of really ill-advised product flooding the site, from disgusting examples of cultural appropriation to racist imagery.  It’s pretty gross.  But when you’re trying to sell as much stuff as possible, and that means a steady stream of new, new, new…well, you’re bound to make a lot of missteps because you don’t have the time or even a big enough staff to thoughtfully create product. So you copy shit. You don’t take the time to consider the implications of each thing you buy. That’s the fast fashion way.


I want to take a moment here to say that some of the most toxic people I knew from Nasty Gal ended up at Dolls Kill, and it didn’t really surprise me at all that more and more stories of unethical behavior from Dolls Kill were popping up across the internet. Honestly, to dig in to all of them I would have to do an entire episode just about Dolls Kill. Maybe I will for Patreon, but for now we’ll just say that Dolls Kill has done some pretty shady things over the years that seem to indicate that despite being a brand that claims to be for the “misfits,” it’s only a certain kind of white, thin, cisgender, able-bodied misfit.


Now as I mentioned, the About page on the Dolls Kill website doesn’t really say anything about its values or even the brand vision. But there is a separate page that can only be found by googling “Dolls Kill values,” and it essentially functions as a response to its biggest controversies over the past few years, like literally responding one by one to these things.   Naturally Good on You gives the company its lowest rating: We Avoid.


And for a long time this didn’t really matter to customers, who saw themselves finally being served by a brand just for them, after years of being ignored.  But in 2020, bad behavior began to catch up with Dolls Kill, as more and more stories began to surface about some of the bad things happening within the company, from the way it treated models to racist behavior to theft of art and designs.  More shoppers began to move away…which is a risky situation for a brand that has a very niche customer base to begin with.


And then this year the whispers about resale began. Danielle and I touched on that in the last episode: stories are popping up on reddit (and now other platforms) about Depop sellers having their accounts suspended after listing preowned Dolls Kill products.  And the responses they are receiving from Depop are a little confusing. Sometimes customer service is saying that it is because they used Dolls Kill photos in the listing, but that’s frequently not the case. And one customer service agent said that Dolls Kill was demanding that none of their product be listed on the platform. Seven months ago one redditor warned: 

For anyone who isnt aware yet Dolls Kill has made a HARD stance against anyone selling or reselling and Dolls Kill items-including Widow, Current Mood, Club Exx etc. New or used items, doesn’t matter. Their current stance is the price you pay only applies to a license to wear said items, they retain owner ship. People who are trying to sell their DK merchandise are currently being met with DMCA and counterfeit notices (this includes people who are using their own photos-not stock photos) They are also going after people who use the tags “dollskill” and “Dolls kill” regardless on if said items actually have anything to do with DK. Be advised before making any postings attempting to sell DK items on Facebook marketplace, mercari, poshmark, depop, etc.”


Meanwhile the Dolls Kill website promises that you CAN resell their stuff, saying “You can resell Dolls Kill’s products on secondary platforms. However, we ask that you respect copyright laws and our brand’s intellectual property. This means that when reselling, please refrain from using copyrighted images or any other copyrighted content from our website, as it infringes our intellectual property rights. Instead, use your own images and provide your own product descriptions.”


Reddit (and now youtube) is filled with stories about listings being pulled and accounts being suspended on various platforms, despite not using any copyrighted content in their listing.  What I think is happening here is that Dolls Kill doesn’t want anyone using their style or brand names in listings, which means it would be impossible to find on any of the resale platforms, effectively squashing any resale market for their stuff. So yeah, it’s sketchy, right?  Multiple commenters on YouTube called it “supervillain behavior,” which feels appropriate…especially because the brand changed its return policy and it no longer gives refunds on returns.  Instead customers can only receive store credit. Which means if you buy something and it doesn’t work…well, good luck reselling it to someone else to get your money back. Supervillain indeed!


Of course, this anti-resale action, along with the shady return policy has led many customers to believe that perhaps the business is not doing well.Which to be fair, would not surprise me. There is something about Dolls Kill that reminds me way too much of Nasty Gal: and that is the low quality of the product. Something we found at Nasty Gal is that customers would be lured in by our awesome branding and cool photography…but never shop a second time because they were so disappointed when they received their first order. Now imagine placing an order, being disappointed by the quality, and not even being able to return or resell what you bought? You will never come back! And when a brand already has a super niche customer, customers not returning will destroy the business over time. That’s exactly what happened at Nasty Gal, we spent money on marketing to lure in new customers, offered them discount codes, etc… (except we gave refunds on returns, which meant we lost even more money on each customer). My guess is that this new return policy and the anti-resale efforts are designed to stop the bleeding.  But as this anti-resale message spreads (and it has picked up a lot of momentum in the last month), I think we will see more and more business troubles for Dolls Kill.


In fact, looking at the Glassdoor reviews indicates a lot of trouble behind the scenes (of course I had to look):

  • “Meetings with the CEO & Founder are not often (if ever) productive as inappropriate & unprofessional comments are often made with explosive outbursts that end with total chaos/disarray.”
  • “High level business decisions made by whoever is the loudest in the room. Rarely are data-insights taken to drive business decisions. Constant reinventing of the wheel based on an executives whims”
  • “Execs make decisions based on nothing. They never listen to the facts or numbers presented by employees. As they layoff people they just expect everyone to get “scrappy” and do like three jobs without promotion or more pay. People feel very disposable. Often times I was requested to make projects or presentations by upper management and then they just wouldn’t show up to the meetings or do anything with the information.”
  • “Most traumatizing fashion job ever”
  • The company is for profit & is just that & nothing else as it is tone-deaf to any group, class, & issues unless it benefits the company.”

And many of the reviews mention layoffs as a result of poor business…and that the missteps of the past few years (cultural appropriation, racism, etc) have had a very negative impact on the business. I wonder…as word spreads about the brand’s attempts to squash resale of their product, how will that impact their business? It’s a very, very bad look!


So that’s Dolls Kill, seen as a big player in this new ultra fast fashion landscape. If you or someone you know has had  a bad experience with Dolls Kill–either as a customer, employee, model, or reseller, I want to hear from you! You can send me an email, a voice memo, or you can call the Clotheshorse hotline.  All the details are in the show notes.


Okay, let’s jump into the second half of my conversation with Danielle!


So let’s talk a little bit about greenwashing because you had a lot of thoughts there. And I know… I mean, I’m glad that Gen Z and just people in general are becoming more aware of greenwashing and seeing it because it can be, at this point, very transparent. So where does Gen Z land on greenwashing? How do they feel about it?



It’s similar to other generations, particularly millennials, where they’re really confused and frustrated

at this point. They do have this desire to shop more sustainably, to shop brands that are doing better or more mission driven. But there’s a lot of confusion, misinformation, and often disinformation. And this is for kind of the… Greenwashing as a form of PSYOPS or psychological operations comes in. So a few months ago, I went down this rabbit hole, put on my political science major hat from back in college days,

and did a lot of research around how greenwashing as a communication tactic can be considered a form of PSYOP.

Because for PSYOP, for those who don’t know, it’s an abbreviation for psychological operations military term used when a agency, a group, a government is attempting to influence specific audiences through very deliberate dissemination of information.


And greenwashing can be a way to distribute that disinformation because it often is misleading, confusing enough, it’s obfuscating responsibility. And so you see this often in terms like. vegan leather, where it is a, it’s one of the biggest and vast like marketing rebranding of plastic that I have ever seen in fashion and in the industry, where it’s literally just polyurethane for the most part. But a lot of consumers don’t know that. And they think, Oh, vegan leather means maybe it’s come from like mushroom or other plant based leathers. Nope. That’s a different thing usually,

or it’s more sustainable or more durable because it’s not using animal-based products. And, you know, that’s a complicated question and answer, but it also comes into play when brands have certain programs that sound really good and sound more sustainable, but in reality are not. And so, you know, some recent research came out around fashion brands, take back programs or recycling programs. Where. You can at H&M bring back in your old items. They say they recycle it, repurpose it, resell those items. And the recent research found that, nope, in at least three quarters of cases, that just doesn’t happen. Most of it just ends up in landfill or it goes to sub-Saharan Africa and is polluting, clogging up those local areas. So it comes to this point of at least a third of consumers. don’t trust brands when they make claims around sustainability. It feels like greenwashing. They’re confused. They’re turned off by it. And unfortunately, a lot of them, the next step is, well, it’s just too hard.

So why should I even try? And they kind of throw up their hands and it’s more of this nihilistic view. But I do think there is a better way forward and we can begin to see brands be held more accountable. So in the EU, there’s. upcoming legislation around greenwashing. There’s, um, certain states in certain areas. You have to have qualified science-based targets and explanations for your sustainability information. But it’s still very technical and not consumer friendly, which is where I think people will still just take the easy route and buy whatever they like, regardless of whether it’s sustainable or not.



Yeah, I mean the excuse I see coming up quite a bit is, well there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism so dot dot, you know, I will buy this Shein haul. And no one needs to defend buying clothes from Shein, right? You gotta do what you gotta do. But I do think that like often this sort of like, well I’m just one person, I can’t make a difference or it’s Amazon’s fault, not mine. Or, you know, all- buying anything is wrong, so just buy whatever, right? It’s like, these are the kind of mental gymnastics. Like listen, I’ve been in some really bad relationships where my friends were like, will you please never talk about this person again with us because we hate them and you insist on continuing to date them and I’m kind of like, well, like you guys don’t know them like I do, you know? Like I know these things that make them. Okay, of course, then I look back in retrospect and I’m like, gosh, that person was a real piece of work. My poor friends for having to listen to me go on about that person for like a year. But I think it’s the same sort of thing where you’re like, well, the thing is, I’m going to justify this to myself no matter what and move on. And it is even easier to do that when you can’t trust a lot of the information that’s being put out there. I mean, the H&M… clothing collection thing is like just, I mean really, really demoralizing and disappointing to so many people. That was huge.

And still a lot of people don’t know that. And there’s still plenty of other brands out there who have like take back programs that essentially function the same way. But you know, give you a coupon to buy something new. That’s the real point of all of it, right? To get you to buy more stuff. And when you learn this stuff, you’re like, well who can I trust? I guess I’ll trust no one.



Right, or I don’t care anymore. It’s too hard, it’s too consuming, time consuming.

I don’t wanna spend time doing that. I just want cute clothes. And that’s where I think it’s so interesting where when we have these cultural events like Taylor Swift’s Eros Tour or the Barbie movie, and people talk about, you don’t need to buy a new thing for something you’ll probably just wear once. And people go. ape shit online that they feel very attacked, defensive. And I hear the underlying point. And I also, the other side empathize that like, people want to feel joy. They want to feel something good and feel good, look good, have fun because reality is like, It’s scary out there and people are feeling the crushing weight, especially for Gen Z. They feel the weight of climate change and feel hopelessness or fear around that. A lot of instability, thinking about who they are, their careers, what they want to do in life. And those are big, heavy questions. And at the same time, they feel addicted and guilty about fast fashion. but don’t necessarily know where else to go. And so I have a lot of empathy for younger consumers, people who love fashion, who want to participate, who express themselves through clothes, but feel like it’s just so hard, I don’t know where to go. And then there’s a glimmer of hope, like, oh, a take back program, that sounds great. And then you find out later, nope, that was fake. fake news and it gets very demoralizing very quickly. Though I get why people resort to just kind of like, forget it, I’m gonna do whatever I wanna do.



Well, it gets so complicated to you, especially with a sort of very black and white discourse that takes place on social media. Like, there’s not a lot of nuance because how much nuance can you capture in a stick and TikTok? Or a post






on Instagram? And I have read threads on Reddit that almost made me want to cry with despair because it would be someone saying, like, hey, so listen, I don’t want to buy fast fashion because I know all of these bad things about it. and I wanna do better, but someone told me that because I’m not poor, I shouldn’t be shopping secondhand either. So now I don’t want know what to do. Also, I don’t wanna buy clothes from Amazon because I heard they’re bad. So like, should I just never buy clothes again? Can someone please tell me what to do? You know, like literally like that kind of frustration.






And I’m like, oh man, I hear you because let’s face it, we have a lot of conversation on social media about the ills of fast fashion. We also have a lot of misinformation about secondhand. And if your heart is in the right place and you wanna do the right thing, which is every person, you get this emotional fatigue where you’re like, I can’t figure out what the right thing is based on the information I’ve been given. And so now I’m just gonna do whatever. And that frustrates me, too.


and that’s where I think, I think celebrating progress over perfection and realizing that we are individuals and we are part of the broader system, but we cannot change everything. We cannot control everything. And that these are incredibly complex, like the global fashion industry, you know, is over a trillion dollar industry.

It touches so many different aspects of our global economy, supply chains, labor, environment. uh, just business. And I think to, to that extent, I understand the impulse to want to just tap out and say, I can’t make a change, but I do think there is also the underlying impulse where Gen Z in particular, they do want to shop brands and showcase their identity, their affiliations through their consumption and what they support, where if we can just make it easier. and make it more accessible, then I do think there will be a tidal wave and a shift to better options. The reality is though that fast fashion is way easier, way more compelling, and way more affordable.






And in terms of those key metrics, if traditional fashion brands don’t change how they’re operating and they’re more kind of traditional. buy six months in advance, these huge minimum order quantities, and then sit on a load of inventory and discount. That is long gone. That model does not work anymore, which is why we have a glut of overstock that then is discounted and discounted versus fast fashion brands like Shein.

I think in theory, having a smarter, in some ways more effective model by creating smaller And then scaling up or down based on demand. So that there is technically, like big asterisk here, technically less overstock and waste, even if, again, going back to greenwashing, the percentages and what they report of saying that they have less than 1% overstock rate compared to traditional fashion brands having 25 to 40% overstock as like a, here’s a feather in their cap. is obfuscating the reality that they are producing hundreds of thousands of styles more, and therefore creating millions of more units than their counterparts. So they might be producing over a hundred million net new items every year, and this is data from spring of 2022, so it’s even ramped up since then based on the last Business of Fashion report they did.



Yeah, it’s pretty astounding. I mean, because I do think there is something there with this more on demand, smaller quantity model. Because there is so much clothing that is being produced every year that’s never going to be worn or even sold. There is an even greater portion that will be sold, but at deep discount, which, like, unfortunately, it is human nature that when you impulsively buy a bunch of stuff because it’s on sale, which we all have been done at some point in our lives, you don’t value it as much. And so you don’t really wear it.

And then it also doesn’t have much value on the resale market. So it’s just not great because

there’s so much of it, right? And so little people who want it. When we that kind of overproduction is a key component of the problem and the waste of the fast fashion industry. But at the same time, like just the steady flow of new styles every day from Shein is not a great example of it working in the right way, right?



Right, right. In theory,

it should work if more brands shifted to an on demand model, if they could create really just what was meeting demand. But we know that that’s not happening and that demand is being artificially inflated and accelerated by extraordinary low prices that are not. I don’t know how to say this. These prices are not normal.






I think that’s what people really need to understand. These are not normal prices. And when you get to the Temu event, seeing the prices there, I don’t understand how you could see that and think, oh, this is perfectly normal. Nothing shady is going on.



exactly, exactly. Yeah, I mean, same thing with like some of the stuff you see on AliExpress, you’re like, how? I don’t understand. It’s not good, you know, if it’s that cheap. Something about it is not going to add up. I always say it’s like too cheap to be true. 



Too cheap to be true



Okay, well, let’s talk about secondhand and Teleport. So the first thing I’m gonna ask you before you tell us more about Teleport is like, what are your thoughts? on the discourse online about, you know, like, oh, shopping second-hand, like the gentrification of thrifting and taking clothing from poor people and all of that. Like, what are your thoughts on that?



I think everyone should thrift.






And obviously that sounds oversimplified in certain ways, but there are many ways to do that. You can buy secondhand online, you can buy them from traditional thrift stores, donation places, estate sales, swapping. I think buying secondhand should be most consumers first choice because you are going to get more bang for your buck and you’re also going to find more unique, more sustainable pieces. And so when You ask people why they do want to shop secondhand, particularly Gen Z and millennials. It is pretty much in that order. First is lower prices, then it’s around finding cool, unique items. And then somewhere in third or fourth is around sustainability, at least in theory that you feel like you are doing something better for the environment as well as for your wallet by buying secondhand. I think the discourse online around resellers, around gentrifying of thrift stores, I’ve been in this space long enough that I’m used to it coming up, like every 12 to 18 months. Like there’ll be some trigger online and it will spark this new wave of conversations and madness

and point counterpoints and dialogue. And I’ve kind of become immune to it at this point because it’s like, okay, this will pass and we’ll move on to the next thing. But it’s been really interesting to see the latest wave over the last few months. on this conversation because it’s just so steeped in a lack of critical thinking and reality.



Yeah, like for example the landlord  landlord metaphor.



Don’t even get me started.



I can’t with it I’m like no these are two different things actually



I, and a part of it is there’s some quip. It sounds catchy. It sounds enough. Like it could be true, but what I have come to realize is most of this conversation is not rooted in malice or in jealousy even, which I do think that plays a role. A lot of it comes down to this concept of Hanlon’s razor, which is like, don’t ascribe to malice. what is likely just the result of incompetence.



100%. I say this all the time. If you feel that someone is overcharging, for example, for secondhand clothing, they probably just don’t know any better. Like the people who really get themselves just so upset because someone is listing stuff at higher prices, I’m like, here’s the thing. Either it’s going to sell at that price, which means they pick the right price, or it’s not, and they’ll have to reduce the price or go out of business. That is, you know, that’s how it works. So I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t get a stomach ache over it. Like it’s gonna be okay.



And pricing is one of the most complicated aspects of any retail commerce, but especially of resale because in a single SKU model where there’s just one item, one of that unique thing, it really is variable depending on the condition, the quality, what era it came from, what brand it is. There’s a lot of factors that play into pricing, which is why it’s really complex and costly from a technology standpoint for a lot of these retail or resellers like the Thred Ups and the Real Reals of the world to have pricing that is fair and compelling and accurate, meaning that people will pay that amount for a secondhand item. And this is where the crunch comes in with fast fashion because again, we’ve been habituated. to expect incredibly low prices on clothes from a fast fashion point of view. And we expect secondhand items, quote, used items to be less money than new items. But it gets to a point, it’s like, how low can you go if a new item from Shein is $5 and you expect at least a 40% discount, 50% discount on a used item, there’s cost associated with running a store or having an online shop. Where is their margin to support that? And that’s where I think a lot of. Resale platforms, secondhand sellers get into a pickle because there’s this warped consumer expectation and then frustration that comes out when they expect secondhand items to be like next to nothing, but dirt, dirt cheap.



yeah. I mean, I think that’s a really important call out that, you know, for some people listening, this is very obvious, but I, you know, I’ve been a buyer now for a couple decades and I did have one time have to listen to my sister’s boyfriend explain to me how pricing works, which was really rich since I’ve been doing this for a really long time. But he said to me like, hey, did you know that when you go to the store and buy something, the price you pay for it isn’t what the store paid for it? And I was just like, yes. I…asked me what I do for a living, but he just kept going. And it was, I was like, oh my God, I can’t believe how dumb he thinks I am. But, you know, the reality is that when you pay for, when you buy something, you’re not just paying for the cost of that item. You’re paying payment fees, you know, you’re paying the platform fees. If you’re buying it from a brand, you’re paying for everyone who works there, you know, their offices. the shipping packages, the free shipping, you name it. You’re never just paying for the object. And unfortunately, I think fast fashion has like, maybe made us feel that we are because the prices are so low. So when you think about like, even if you buy something from Shein, you’re still paying for the shipping and the facilities site and the social media team and the product photography and all the people who work there and the people who made it, all that stuff. That’s when you start to say, like, OK, wait a minute. When you realize that this really doesn’t add up at all, this doesn’t make any sense at all. And I think our whole sense of value and pricing has been broken for so long. I do feel that a lot of that confusion is sort of creating so much frustration on the secondhand market. And also this idea that if something is secondhand, it has little or no value is another thing that we need to break up with.



Yes, and that it’s so highly dependent and variable again, because every item is

a unique item. This is something I had to do a lot of education on with my leadership team at Amazon when I was launching our retail program, because Amazon and mostly every other retailer online or in physical stores, they operate in a multi-SKUnvironment where each style. has multiple sizes, multiple colors, and there’s kind of what they call this parent to child relationship. There’s a parent style, and then there’s variations, quote, children underneath, that are typically all then organized on one single product detail page. And so if you go on Amazon, or you go on Shein, you go on Gap, you’ll see here’s the sweatshirt, and then under that sweatshirt, there’s sizes extra small, up through extra, extra large, there’s different color ways. That does not exist.



No, and it’s so much work.



Every single resale site online that I have come across over the last 10 plus years has one item per product detail page. It is that item, that condition, that exact product photography for that exact item. And at that, I think a lot of people don’t underestimate, they underestimate that the costs of doing that are somehow analogous to the cost of a retail model. And it just does not scale in the same way, which is why it is super challenging for many resale sites to be profitable because they’re operating in a totally different rhythm and product inventory logic, which then makes pricing, makes the operations, makes reverse logistics really complex because they’re not interchangeable items. And so you think about when I was launching luxury resale, I had to do a lot of negotiating with the teams to say, we are not going to put 10 Chanel pre-loved and vintage medium flat bags on the same product detail page. Each of these items are $6,000 to $10,000 pre-loved. And they are not gonna be on the same page because each one of these has their own product photography. They have their own bullet points and description. They have their own sort of. certifications of authenticity. All of those unique details are tied to that specific item. We cannot just group them together and treat them as interchangeable because the consumer wants to know they’re buying that specific item when they’re evaluating a $6,000 purchase. Like, you’re not just like, oh, I’m gonna get this one versus that one. If you want the vintage one with gold plated hardware, you wanna know 100% accuracy you

are getting that item versus a newer version. But it’s just a different mindset. And I think sometimes, especially younger consumers who are just starting out in buying secondhand, thrifting online or in real life, it takes time to understand that nuance and to also appreciate that there is a skill involved in thrifting. And that it takes time and effort to build up that eye to spot the quote, good stuff at the store. And this is where I think the debate around resellers taking all the cute stuff, all the good stuff from the thrift store is so unhinged to be honest, because you can walk into pretty much any thrift store in the country and find something similar enough to what you’re looking for. It might not be the exact same thing. It might not be the exact brand or style exactly that you’re looking for, but that is not what thrifting is. Like you do not go in. spearfishing, as we discussed. Like you go in with a treasure hunting mindset and find something that aligns generally with your style, with your price point, with your sizing. It’s a very different model than retail, which is why I think a lot of people get super frustrated and defensive because they expect it to be the same experience when it’s like, it just cannot be.



Yeah, absolutely. It’s totally different. And that makes it not for everyone because it’s not like you go pull up to the goodwill and you know exactly what you need and you walk in and it’s there and then you leave, right? It’s not like going to Target. And I think that for many people that it can be very frustrating. And I do think a lot of this rhetoric around, oh, resellers are taking all the good stuff, is that is based on frustration. I think that’s where a lot of that emerges.

Maybe with a  little hint of jealousy when you see someone selling the good stuff, I get it, but there are some, the definition of what’s good, of good stuff, is so personal that, and there’s such a variety of what people determine to be good, that there’s always something for everyone in one way or another. But because thrifting is so difficult sometimes and can be frustrating, It takes a lot of time sometimes to find what you perceive as the good stuff. And I think that’s where that stuff begins. However, and you don’t have to comment on this, but it’s a conversation that’s been happening a lot. You might have some thoughts on more and more of us are feeling as if perhaps, and I, you know, in the past, I maybe it would have been like, Oh, I don’t know about that. But after all the like Johnny Depp, Amber Heard stuff and Johnny Depp’s lawyers, you know, paying bots just to post shitty stuff and comment shitty stuff about Amber Heard. It made me start to think. Okay, what if fast fashion brands are actually doing something similar when it comes to posts about secondhand, like starting these conversations on there, posting these comments in bad faith. And I had kind of thought about it a little bit, and then I was like, oh, I think you’re just being too conspiracy minded. And then more and more people were messaging me to tell me they think that’s what’s happening, unprovoked. I wasn’t like, does anyone think this? They were just coming my way. Not that a lot of people repeating the same thing means it’s true. Same thing with like all the other anti-resale, anti-secondhand stuff we read. Repeating it enough doesn’t make it more true. But I do feel like it’s a really odd coincidence that the same arguments show up in every conversation. Do you have any thoughts on that?



So to relate to greenwashing and PSYOP another form of PSYOP is called divide and rule. And so this is a deliberate cyber warfare, cyber kind of disinformation campaign approach. So the conversation around whether bots are activating fast fashion conversations and debates online, I think is super interesting because I have noticed this on Twitter, on TikTok, anytime you mentioned some of these brands, there are the same type of comments from what look like bot accounts, like username, 50 numbers, and the same type of comments, conversations and rebuttals. And what’s been really interesting is there is a concept that cyber warfare users, like the Russian government use of divide and rule where they might not be creating the initial trigger for conversation, but they will seed and amplify debates that are likely to divide and create divisions among groups of people. in a certain country, a certain demographic, anything that where you can, if you can create that rift, it is easier than to rule and influence in that disintermediation. So it creates this dynamic where I have seen it ramped up and there have now been allegations from Xi’an to Timor and to Timor to Xi’an. They’re now suing each other in courts across the US for a lot of shady tactics that I think really interesting and reminiscent of how other global groups, again, like the Russian government, actually use in terms of online disinformation campaigns. So there’s something there and I am waiting for some actual investigative journalists, not the ones so-called who went on the Shein influencer trip, to actually do a report on whether this is happening or not, because I see it constantly. on social media when these brands are mentioned.



Yeah, it’s just, and you’re right. It is, it’s like always these accounts that seem to be bots. Or maybe they have a profile picture and a name that seems sort of normal, and then you go look at the profile and you’re like, ugh, I don’t think this is a real person. Like, this seems like stock photography, you know? And it just, it’s, they show up to every fight. And this is what happened in the 2016 and 2020 elections here in the United States. So this is not, this is not unheard of. I think we’re just starting to see it more as part of a business strategy than we have in the past. But it’s just, it’s like every time. Okay, so let’s talk about Teleport. What makes Teleport different? What are your goals? Tell us all about it.



Yeah. So I quit my job at Amazon fashion about six months ago to join Teleport, which is an early stage startup building the next generation of fashion thrifting online, and I am obsessed with solving this problem where if you want to shop more sustainably, you’re looking for style inspiration and you want to be a part of community that really cares about those areas. Where do you go? And unfortunately, there are not a lot of places on the internet, especially if you’re a teen, college age, girl, women, interested in fashion, where it’s positive, where it’s safe, and where you can also easily buy and sell items from your closet. And so the mission of Teleport is to make thrifting online 10 times easier, 10 times more social, and 10 times more fun. Meaning that thrifting online

should be fun and it should be a way where you can connect with people. who share your style, who share your interests, and where you actually feel like you know the people that you’re buying and selling items from. Because my perspective being in this space for a while, like I’ve been on Poshmark since 2011, I think, and many other resale sites is, it’s very transactional. You buy and sell, you wash your hands of it. Whereas on Teleport, the whole differentiating point is you can share an outfit video. and tag items directly in that video. So you can show how it’s styled, how you’ve worn it in multiple ways, and you can see a record of all of your outfit diary for that specific item to give inspiration of mixing and matching. And as a way to connect, do style challenges, we just did a Barbie core challenge over the last week in a place where you can feel like you can get inspiration and build your personal style in a safe, welcoming environment. Because I think for a lot of people, TikTok can be, and Instagram can be very overwhelming. For teen girls in particular, it can be very toxic. And so I’m obsessed with making it a place where it’s very positive and welcoming, and that people continue to come back to.



I love that. I think that checks all the boxes. So where are you with Teleport?



We just launched buying and selling, so a truth rifting experience a few months ago and have seen such positive growth and momentum from the community. And it’s really been something important that we build with and for the community. So not kind of like a top-down product development and tech roadmap, but really listening and engaging every single day with our community, with the users around how to improve it together. And so I’ve been so excited to hear people say that like, they look forward to posting their outfits every single day, and that they’ve been able to really build more confidence in their personal style and figuring that out. As they’re on that journey and then making it very easy and simple when they’re ready to pass items along that no longer serve them doing that in an easy and responsible way by selling it.



I love this because I do think, you know, for a long time, you are trying to figure out who you are and you shed a lot of identities along the way and clothes are a part of that. When I get comments on Instagram with someone who’s like, oh, I’ve been wearing the same clothes since I was in high school and I know that person’s in their late thirties, I’m like, how? Like, there have been 15

versions of me since then, many bad haircuts, some self-inflicted. And I think that making it easier and, you know, ultimately like less environmentally impactful for people to explore themselves is so important.



Exactly. And so how do you make it a lot easier and also a lot more fun? Because I think something that I’ve noticed being a thrifter pretty much my entire life is it is a fun thing to do with your friends or even just by yourself. And that thrill of the hunt, that treasure hunting experience and feel I have not seen. on any other resale site or platform. And I’ve tested over 50 app sites over the last decade. Like I’ve tried and tested pretty much them all. And I still use and love many of them, but still felt like there was this gap where how do you build a more community first and video driven experience? Knowing that that’s just a richer way to show how thrifted items. have potential beyond what you just see on the rack at the thrift store. And that’s where I think a lot of people who are starting their second hand journey get hung up and why you see such frustration online against resellers, all of these

Unhinged arguments, because it does take some time and skill. And so if you can see someone who’s essentially doing the heavy lifting and work for you and styling this thrifted item. showing how it fits, how it moves, how it can be mixed and matched, that is solving that kind of homework, emotional, intellectual homework you have to do and visualizing how this item would look beyond just on a hanger. And that is a skill. Like it’s not for everyone. I think everyone can learn it certainly, but there are some people who it’s just not interesting, not an area that they want to invest in. And that is… Okay, so while I think thrifting, like shopping secondhand is for everyone, I don’t expect everyone to spend hours at the thrift store and enjoy doing that. And that’s why I think Teleport and our community can play a role in making it more accessible and more fun to thrift while not having to spend three hours at your thrift store.



yeah, absolutely. There are so many issues around accessibility to thrifting and I think the easier we can make it, the more people will come on board. People of all ages, really, yeah.

I do think there is something very impersonal about all the platforms that exist, the big ones. Like it is almost more like, oh, show up knowing what you want or leave disappointed, you know? And…



I, and a lot of them again are search driven. So this is another differentiation for Teleport where, because they’re outfit videos and you can scroll through a TikTok like feed of how they’re styled, how they put together multiple items in an outfit. It’s very different than a search, sort, filter, save, add to cart and then delete from cart experience. It’s meant to more feel like what it’s like being at the thrift store. where you never know what you’re gonna find. Like every swipe is a new outfit, new style. Someone then if you like their style, you like their items, you can follow them, you can comment. I mean, I’m so proud of how our community is so positive in hyping each other up. And there’ll be like a goth girl hyping up a coquette soft girl. And I’m like, I don’t know what any of these things mean, but go get them. Like I love the vibe that you all are creating here.


And I think that’s part of. encouraging people to experiment too with their style in a safe place when it can be nerve-racking to try something new and to wonder are people going to look at me strange if I wear this type of outfit out and being able to track and cultivate your personal style while also shopping more sustainably is something I think we’re really on to.



Yeah, I think so too. That’s really exciting. I’m excited to watch this grow because I think this is what we need. This is the missing piece. Is that connection and that like, I don’t know, it’s just like alive. You know, it’s not.



It’s alive. It definitely feels more like going thrifting with your friends than solitarily scrolling and sorting endless grids of product, which, you know, is like a pastime of mine as well, not to knock that, but it doesn’t, it doesn’t scratch the same itch, especially when it comes to getting inspiration. And that’s where I think there’s still where most Gen Z, you know, over 90% of them say that they rely on TikTok, on Instagram for discovery. And then over 80% say that the discovery or inspiration phase of discovering new products, new brands is the best part of shopping. And I think that is what’s missing a lot from shopping online and even retail stores now where everything feels so sterile and so

homogenized versus The joy of thrifting is like you truly never know what you’re going to find. And sometimes you find the most random, most unique pieces. And that is the fun of it. So if we can bottle it up and recreate that in some way in an online format, then we’ve done our job.



Yeah. Well, this has been such a great conversation. Do you have, and if you don’t have them, it’s fine, but do you have any final thoughts or parting words of wisdom you’d like to share with everyone? I mean, you already shared a lot of wisdom with us, so if you ran out, it’s okay.



I would say if you are looking for a community to develop your personal style and to thrift cute items, then you should join Teleport. And I’m happy to share more in show notes or however you like, Amanda, but welcome everyone to try it and to give feedback because again, we’re really building this with and for our community. We’re not about to just try to recreate another resale app. There are plenty out there, but I think where we want to differentiate is building a community-first

place to thrift and get inspiration online.



Yeah, I love that. I mean, I do think one of my favorite things about secondhand and vintage is the community aspect of it, much less like there are communities for buying Glossier stuff, but this is cooler.



Mm-hmm. Yes, I think so.



Well, thank you so much, Danielle.



Well, thank you too, Amanda. This has been a pleasure. So fun to always talk about my deep special interests.

Thanks to Danielle for spending time with me! You should definitely check out Teleport, which you can download in the app store of your choice.  I’m excited to see what secondhand 3.0 looks like, with apps like Teleport leading the future!


Before I sign off for the week, I just wanted to give you a few small updates:

  1. The new Clotheshorse website will be coming your way this week. Dustin and I have been working hard to give it the new, fresh look it deserves (and it’s way more dazzling than its predecessor).  I wanted it to be a better reflection of both me and the Clotheshorse community.  I’m grateful to have a very talented designer (aka Dustin) working on it with me So keep your eyes peeled for that this week! That means access to the transcript for this episode will not be available immediately, as we work through transitioning all 172 episodes worth of show notes and transcripts over to the new platform, as well as the Clotheshorse Brand Directory.  Thank you in advance for your patience!
  2. Also, if you may have noticed that many older episodes of the podcast are moving behind the Apple subscription paywall. I am doing this because I am looking for new ways to be paid for my work on this show, without limiting access to information. I am keeping the most important episodes free and accessible to everyone. That’s a priority to me. Over time, more of the archives will be making this move.  My hope is that starting next week, subscribers will also receive access to the episode one day early! 


Okay, today it’s a tepid 108 degrees here in Austin, so I have to get the AC turned back on ASAP.

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Clotheshorse is brought to you with support from the following sustainable small businesses:

Thumbprint is Detroit’s only fair trade marketplace, located in the historic Eastern Market.  Our small business specializes in products handmade by empowered women in South Africa making a living wage creating things they love like hand painted candles and ceramics! We also carry a curated assortment of  sustainable/natural locally made goods. Thumbprint is a great gift destination for both the special people in your life and for yourself! Browse our online store at thumbprintdetroit.com and find us on instagram @thumbprintdetroit.

Picnicwear:  a slow fashion brand, ethically made by hand from vintage and deadstock materials – most notably, vintage towels! Founder, Dani, has worked in the industry as a fashion designer for over 10 years, but started Picnicwear in response to her dissatisfaction with the industry’s shortcomings. Picnicwear recently moved to rural North Carolina where all their clothing and accessories are now designed and cut, but the majority of their sewing is done by skilled garment workers in NYC. Their customers take comfort in knowing that all their sewists are paid well above NYC minimum wage. Picnicwear offers minimal waste and maximum authenticity: Future Vintage over future garbage.

Shift Clothing, out of beautiful Astoria, Oregon, with a focus on natural fibers, simple hardworking designs, and putting fat people first.  Discover more at shiftwheeler.com

High Energy Vintage is a fun and funky vintage shop located in Somerville, MA, just a few minutes away from downtown Boston. They offer a highly curated selection of bright and colorful clothing and accessories from the 1940s-1990s for people of all genders. Husband-and-wife duo Wiley & Jessamy handpick each piece for quality and style, with a focus on pieces that transcend trends and will find a home in your closet for many years to come! In addition to clothing, the shop also features a large selection of vintage vinyl and old school video games. Find them on instagram @ highenergyvintage, online at highenergyvintage.com, and at markets in and around Boston.

St. Evens is an NYC-based vintage shop that is dedicated to bringing you those special pieces you’ll reach for again and again. More than just a store, St. Evens is dedicated to sharing the stories and history behind the garments. 10% of all sales are donated to a different charitable organization each month.  New vintage is released every Thursday at wearStEvens.com, with previews of new pieces and more brought to you on Instagram at @wear_st.evens.

Deco Denim is a startup based out of San Francisco, selling clothing and accessories that are sustainable, gender fluid, size inclusive and high quality–made to last for years to come. Deco Denim is trying to change the way you think about buying clothes. Founder Sarah Mattes wants to empower people to ask important questions like, “Where was this made? Was this garment made ethically? Is this fabric made of plastic? Can this garment be upcycled and if not, can it be recycled?” Signup at decodenim.com to receive $20 off your first purchase. They promise not to spam you and send out no more than 3 emails a month, with 2 of them surrounding education or a personal note from the Founder. Find them on Instagram as @deco.denim.

The Pewter Thimble Is there a little bit of Italy in your soul? Are you an enthusiast of pre-loved decor and accessories? Bring vintage Italian style — and history — into your space with The Pewter Thimble (@thepewterthimble). We source useful and beautiful things, and mend them where needed. We also find gorgeous illustrations, and make them print-worthy. Tarot cards, tea towels and handpicked treasures, available to you from the comfort of your own home. Responsibly sourced from across Rome, lovingly renewed by fairly paid artists and artisans, with something for every budget. Discover more at thepewterthimble.com

Blank Cass, or Blanket Coats by Cass, is focused on restoring, renewing, and reviving the history held within vintage and heirloom textiles. By embodying and transferring the love, craft, and energy that is original to each vintage textile into a new garment, I hope we can reteach ourselves to care for and mend what we have and make it last. Blank Cass lives on Instagram @blank_cass and a website will be launched soon at blankcass.com.

Gabriela Antonas is a visual artist, an upcycler, and a fashion designer, but Gabriela Antonas is also a feminist micro business with radical ideals. She’s the one woman band, trying to help you understand, why slow fashion is what the earth needs. If you find your self in New Orleans, LA, you may buy her ready-to-wear upcycled garments in person at the store “Slow Down” (2855 Magazine St). Slow Down Nola only sells vintage and slow fashion from local designers. Gabriela’s garments are guaranteed to be in stock in person, but they also have a website so you may support this women owned and run business from wherever you are! If you are interested in Gabriela making a one of a kind garment for you DM her on Instagram at @slowfashiongabriela to book a consultation.

Vagabond Vintage DTLV is a vintage clothing, accessories & decor reselling business based in Downtown Las Vegas. Not only do we sell in Las Vegas, but we are also located throughout resale markets in San Francisco as well as at a curated boutique called Lux and Ivy located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Jessica, the founder & owner of Vagabond Vintage DTLV, recently opened the first IRL location located in the Arts District of Downtown Las Vegas on August 5th. The shop has a strong emphasis on 60s & 70s garments, single stitch tee shirts & dreamy loungewear. Follow them on instagram, @vagabondvintage.dtlv and keep an eye out for their website coming fall of 2022.

Country Feedback is a mom & pop record shop in Tarboro, North Carolina. They specialize in used rock, country, and soul and offer affordable vintage clothing and housewares. Do you have used records you want to sell? Country Feedback wants to buy them! Find us on Instagram @countryfeedbackvintageandvinyl or head downeast and visit our brick and mortar. All are welcome at this inclusive and family-friendly record shop in the country!

Located in Whistler, Canada, Velvet Underground is a “velvet jungle” full of vintage and second-hand clothes, plants, a vegan cafe and lots of rad products from other small sustainable businesses. Our mission is to create a brand and community dedicated to promoting self-expression, as well as educating and inspiring a more sustainable and conscious lifestyle both for the people and the planet. Find us on Instagram @shop_velvetunderground or online at www.shopvelvetunderground.com

Selina Sanders, a social impact brand that specializes in up-cycled clothing, using only reclaimed, vintage or thrifted materials: from tea towels, linens, blankets and quilts.  Sustainably crafted in Los Angeles, each piece is designed to last in one’s closet for generations to come.  Maximum Style; Minimal Carbon Footprint.

Salt Hats:  purveyors of truly sustainable hats. Hand blocked, sewn and embellished in Detroit, Michigan.

Republica Unicornia Yarns: Hand-Dyed Yarn and notions for the color-obsessed. Made with love and some swearing in fabulous Atlanta, Georgia by Head Yarn Wench Kathleen. Get ready for rainbows with a side of Giving A Damn! Republica Unicornia is all about making your own magic using small-batch, responsibly sourced, hand-dyed yarns and thoughtfully made notions. Slow fashion all the way down and discover the joy of creating your very own beautiful hand knit, crocheted, or woven pieces. Find us on Instagram @republica_unicornia_yarns and at www.republicaunicornia.com.

Cute Little Ruin is an online shop dedicated to providing quality vintage and secondhand clothing, vinyl, and home items in a wide range of styles and price points.  If it’s ethical and legal, we try to find a new home for it!  Vintage style with progressive values.  Find us on Instagram at @CuteLittleRuin.