When Tradesy launched in late 2012, only 3 percent of women had ever sold clothing online, the company said. Now that number has grown to between 14 and 17 percent, as the resale market has grown since 2013 from $14 billion to $34 billion.
Venture capital hasn't missed the shift and is betting on this new subsection of retail as stock prices of traditional retailers slide to multi-year lows.
GGV Capital has a stake in Poshmark, which takes a 20 percent fee for items sold through its site that are priced at $15 or more. Although the site is currently only available in the U.S., the venture capital firm expects its business model will be easily expanded globally.
"What we like is the social interaction is powerful and they have worldwide appeal. We have inbound interest from the U.K., Australia, they just have opened up to those geographies. We think over time they can leverage their strength and interesting style," said Hans Tung, managing partner at GGV Capital.
To be sure, these rental and trade websites are in their infancy, with member and revenue growth rates typical of start-ups. The big question is whether constantly changing consumer preferences will fuel future growth and if it will continue to take a bite out of traditional retail sales.
—Sabrina Korber contributed to this report.