Noah Ready-Campbell never intended to be in the clothing industry. When he and his business partner Calvin Young left Google, they were planning to stick to software. But when it became clear that their nascent micropayment service wasn’t going to take off,the duo became the first participants to walk out of the vaunted Y-Combinator program (major start-up faux pas) and started collecting women’s clothes. It was a quarter-life crisis, sure, but not a personal awakening. Ready-Campbell was pivoting with extreme prejudice with a plan to create a new way of buying second-hand clothing. That’s precisely what he and Young did. They call their new empire Twice.
“I went to a boarding school for high school and we had to wear button downs and ties so, to save money, I always went to thrift shops,” says Ready-Campbell. “I have this $200 Brooks Brothers shirt I got for $10. I was keenly aware that there was a huge inefficiency in the market.”
Twice started by targeting women, selling J. Crew knits at a discount and rapidly building their user base. It’s only over the last two weeks that the company has made a play in the menswear category and it’s going better than expected. Twice launched its men’s vertical with 8,000 available pieces - everything from Band of Outsiders shirts to Armani overcoats - and sold 1000 on day one. Ready-Campbell says the key is pricing, both what the company pays for used clothes (it acts as a broker rather than an intermediary, like eBay) and the sale price. Twice operates on thin margins and the knowledge that trends are not monolithic.
To that end, Twice, which is based out of a massive building in South San Francisco, isn’t necessarily aimed at the hip kids in the Mission or even the prepsters in the Marina. Well-preserved, worn clothes are generally discarded by trend-chasers, which means that Twice is in the business of shipping tailored jackets and shawl collar sweaters away from major cities.
“We see more selling on the coasts and more buying in the middle of the country and done south,” says Ready-Campbell. “We try to focus on brands that people are familiar with so they don’t have to worry about fit.”
In essence, Twice is in the past-tense fashion business. Ready-Campbell and Young traffic in last season’s looks, which makes their service useful to budget-conscious women and the pretty much every man. The reality is that men’s trends don’t stop on a dime like women’s trends and some items, like decent fitting button-downs, are never going to go out of style. They’ll just go under the lights in Twice’s San Francisco HQ and then on their merry way to Indianapolis. For the guys who want something new all the time, Twice provides a way to profit off the old new stuff by making it someone else's new old stuff.
Will your that coat miss the big city? Sure, but it was getting lonely.
Photos by Courtesy Twice