“It all started as a hobby project,” he says. “In 2008, together with a friend, I built a platform called Vinted for Lithuania. Then, two German women who were couchsurfing guests at my house saw the platform and liked the idea. Together we transferred the concept to Germany and called it Kleiderkreisel. There, the platform grew incredibly fast and was recognized by several European investment companies. The following years saw several financial deals and agreements. Finally, in 2015, we joined forces with the renowned German publishing house Burda. Our first approach was to make money on the basis of monetized transactions, however this did not work out. Today, we offer the platform free of charge again. All core functions such as buying and selling are free of charge. In addition to this, we offer optional services such as advertisements and the promotion of items for faster sales. These services you have to pay for. This concept is working extremely well.”
Under the umbrella of the UK-registered parent company Vinted Limited, the idea of Kleiderkreisel has already been implemented in ten European countries. Besides Germany and Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Spain, Italy, the UK, France and the Netherlands have become well-established markets and the US is also experiencing positive growth.
The product portfolio of Kleiderkreisel in Germany falls into two major divisions: ladies’ and childrens’ fashion (Mamikreisel). “You can buy and sell any form of clothing, from shoes and bags, jeans and shirts, to jackets, fashion accessories and lingerie,” explains Mr. Janauskas. “The products for children are sold on Mamikreisel, Mami being a reference to mother. Here you find fashion as well as equipment.”
In Germany, around five million people list their products on Kleiderkreisel. Worldwide, the community encompasses around 14 million members.
“We enable everyone to trade their fashion,” Mr. Janauskas says, explaining the success of Kleiderkreisel. “We also make it easy for people to trade. You just download the app, make a picture of your product and post it on the platform. This is a great alternative to keeping unused clothes in your closet or throwing away the stuff you do not wear any more and allows you to make a little extra money.”
Furthermore, Mr. Janauskas has a mission. “We aim to become the first choice for everybody selling or buying fashion,” he says. “We want to make second-hand the first choice worldwide. People are becoming increasingly more conscious of consumption. Therefore it is only natural for them to choose Kleiderkreisel as their prime destination for selling and buying fashion, to reduce their ecological footprint. That is why they easily fall in love with our brand and identify with our idea. Another important aspect of our concept is that we make sure that our communities are as happy as possible. We listen carefully to them and give them what they ask for.”
Mr. Janauskas has every reason to be optimistic about the future. “Our concept aligns with the spirit of the age,” he says. “In the coming years, we will realize our vision and I am sure that we will be able to transfer our values to other products and markets. Yet, whatever we do, our customers will always come first, followed by the business model and then our profit. This approach is unique and distinguishes us from most of our competitors.”