One of the benefits of our electronic age is the sense of community that can come from digital spaces. Garmentory, a digital fashion marketplace where international brick and mortar boutiques can sell product, has emerged as one such platform. Founded by Adele Tetangco and Sunil Gowda, the online space was created with boutique owners, individual designers, and consumers in mind. The pair met while Tetangco was working for Vancouver designer Dace Moore. Gowda contacted Tetangco in 2012 looking to become business partners, and the two launched the site in October 2013.
The concept for Garmentory was the result of a common retail problem: “At the end of the season the stores put [their products] in a box in the back of the store,” says Tetangco. “They don’t take it out until Boxing Day or Black Friday, so we thought, ‘Why not give them the opportunity to unload the product [at] a time that they’re not really focusing on selling it?’” But Garmentory is not just a site for boutiques to sell stock from seasons passed—shoppers have the opportunity to be an active consumer and make an offer on sale items, too. If the boutique is happy with the named price, it is accepted and items are shipped out. “The make-an-offer purchase model was a really fun and unique way to introduce [Garmentory]—a new way to shop the sale,” Tetangco explains.
Garmentory has become an arena for independent boutiques and designers, both emerging and established, to unite. “There are so many big players in the [fashion] industry,” she explains, “we really wanted to establish this strong community and by doing that, it was like creating this one bigger voice.” Thanks to the site, sellers experience higher visibility within the marketplace. “There’s something to be said about power in numbers. That’s really what we wanted to do and we feel it so strongly,” Tetangco happily reports. “We just want to be supportive of one another.” Garmentory sellers have taken this tight-knit mentality to heart, and boutiques will often purchase items from independent designers for their own stock.
Vancouver’s fashion community has also benefited from the site. “We have an amazing fashion scene. People wouldn’t know that we have so many [boutiques] here… and if you go to other cities it’s just not the same. I think we’re a step ahead that way,” says Tetangco. And as the site continues to grow, it remains the ideal platform to facilitate this boutique-to-buyer connection. “We had 25 stores when we launched and now we have 130 designers and boutiques,” Tetangco states. Although the boutiques are predominantly from North America, Garmentory started taking on international sellers last month. And with the newly-launched buy-now program, current season’s stock can be sold at full price alongside sale items. “I never thought that it would be like this—all of the sudden, we’re really growing,” says Tetangco, her digital marketplace now brimming with a stock of shoppers, too.