But don’t be mistaken – HuntStreet is not just a treasure trove filled with fabulous fashion finds. It is part of a greater movement that puts conscious luxury front and center. “Over the years, we have seen that consumers value convenience, transparency, and affordability,” shares co-founder Sabrina. “Today, more than ever, consumers also want to make better choices about what they buy… We are living in a time where we should be extending the life cycle of our fashion pieces. Luxury pieces are not meant to be thrown away, but passed on. This is the future of fashion.”
For a little over half a decade, HuntStreet has enjoyed the distinction of being Indonesia’s leading luxury marketplace; a one-stop online shopping destination for pre-owned luxury fashion pieces. Founded by Sabrina Joseph-Tan and Janice Winata, HuntStreet finally reached Singapore’s shores on May 2021, launched together with chief operating officer Tresor Anne Tan, boasting both an online and physical presence (a spacious showroom at Apex @ Henderson Road).
Walk us through the early days of HuntStreet. What was the reason for starting the business and what were some of the issues you struggled with at the beginning?
Sabrina: When Janice and I started HuntStreet in Indonesia in 2015, the resale landscape was a very different place from what it is now. Buying pre-owned was almost considered taboo and there was a fair amount of distrust about buying second-hand items, let alone pre-owned luxury.
Janice: We wanted to move away from a traditional brick and mortar retail shop model, and instead build a seamless online platform where people will feel safe and assured about buying and selling their luxury fashion items.
A big challenge we encountered back then was getting users to be aware and accepting of an online luxury marketplace. It was so foreign to them back then, and we saw some resistance from buyers to transact online as they were more accustomed to purchasing from physical stores, or dealing with individual resellers over social media and WhatsApp.
Do the members of the HuntStreet team have a background in fashion/tech/e-commerce? What sort of expertise do the individual members bring to the table?
Sabrina: Over the past 5 1⁄2 years, Janice and I have been running HuntStreet in Indonesia. We’ve developed a strong understanding of the luxury marketplace landscape in this part of the world.
Our Singaporean partner, Tresor Anne Tan, was in banking for over 17 years before launching her own fashion startup in 2018. She joined Janice and I to launch HuntStreet Singapore in 2021.
I focus on marketing and branding activities, Janice manages business partnerships and sales, and Tresor oversees the day-to-day operations of HuntStreet Singapore. We are also supported by a team of specialists who have the relevant fashion and retail operations experience.
Janice: Sabrina and I were school friends in Jakarta, went to different universities overseas (I was in Los Angeles and she was in Switzerland) and reconnected after we both graduated. We both have a strong lifelong interest in fashion – not just the shopping aspect, but also design, history, and cultural impact – and saw a gap in the Indonesian market for a credible luxury marketplace.
Other than the three of us, our local team comprises eight dynamic individuals who each have relevant experience in their respective fields. In particular, our appraisal team members either have direct working experience in luxury fashion houses or they have worked in similar roles with other luxury fashion marketplaces in the US and locally. We also hire staffers with a fashion design or related background, as we believe they have relevant skill sets, such as a strong understanding of quality fabrics and good tailoring.
Our operations team, similarly, are experienced fashion sales professionals or have previously worked in large e-commerce platforms.
Our tech team is currently based in Indonesia, but we also plan to grow our Singapore tech team as we work towards platform expansion.
Tresor: In addition to authentication services and sourcing for vintage or sold out hot-ticket items, we also offer a suite of personalised services, such as direct buy-in, packaging completion, and post-sale maintenance of luxury pieces.
Why Singapore and why now? Would you say there are similarities between Indonesian and Singaporean shoppers?
Janice: We always knew we wanted to expand beyond Indonesia to become the leading luxury resale marketplace in the region. And it was clear to us that Singapore would be the ideal location. It’s widely recognised as the gateway to the rest of Southeast Asia, so it made absolute sense for us to establish a regional office here.
Tresor: Timing-wise, the ongoing travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant that all three of us were able to spend a lot more time in Singapore over the past year and thoroughly work through our plans to expand into Singapore. With the spike in domestic spending online, as well as offline across several markets including China, US, Japan, Korea, and Singapore, it made sense for us to launch during this period.
Sabrina: We’ve noticed subtle differences between our users in Singapore and Indonesia. For example, there is a higher appreciation of — and demand for — vintage pieces in Singapore. In Indonesia, our clients gravitate towards standout signature items from the luxury brands. Still, the most sought-after brands in both countries remain the same – powerhouses like Chanel, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci just to name a few.
Who is HuntStreet’s target audience and how do you reach out to them? How do you intend to raise awareness in Singapore?
Sabrina: Our platform connects buyers and sellers alike and our community of users is largely made up of mostly female PMEBs in their mid-20s to early 50s. We have also recently noticed slightly younger users in their early 20s engaging with us through our social media channels and purchasing from our website.
Our business in Indonesia, which has been around for five years, has recently seen an increase in millennial customers who love our curation of streetwear, activewear, and beauty product offerings.
In addition to womenswear and accessories, HuntStreet also offers menswear, kidswear, and homeware, so we are also able to serve a wider audience including men and parents.
We’ve been ramping up our marketing efforts and seen good traction on our socials. We have also been very encouraged by the support we have received from notable fashion influencers and fashionistas in Singapore.
Our socials are also a great way for us to build a HuntStreet community here. We believe in helping people see possibilities in pre-owned luxury fashion. In addition to showcasing our daily drops at 4PM, we engage with our community through channels like Try Ons, where we show you how to style certain pieces; Hunt Her/His Closet, where we get access to a chic individual’s wardrobe; and HuntVersations where we sit down and chat about all things stylish with a friend of HuntStreet.
One of the issues potential customers might have would be the authenticity of the items. How do you guarantee this, especially since majority of your stock are from luxury labels?
Tresor: HuntStreet Indonesia has an established quality control and authentication process that has cemented our standing in the market as a credible platform to buy and sell luxury fashion. It was important that we duplicate the same process here.
Our appraisal team comprises individuals who are equipped with relevant fashion industry knowledge and appraisal experience. Every item listed on HuntStreet goes through a three-stage quality control and authentication process by our team.
We also deploy globally recognised authentication technology for major categories of products that are listed on our platform.
Finally, our Buyer Protection program ensures our customers will receive the item as described. Should there be any major discrepancy with the item received, they will always be entitled to a refund if flagged to us within a reasonable stipulated period.
Buying and selling pre-owned luxury goods online is not a new concept. How does HuntStreet differentiate itself from other platforms?
Sabrina: Our philosophy of “conscious luxury” drives everything that we do at HuntStreet. We believe in prolonging the lifespan of luxury items that we have invested our money in. Buying pre-owned allows you to experience the thrill of owning something beautiful at a more pocket-friendly price. And selling the items you don’t use any more not only helps you to declutter, but also not squander your investment.
We’re especially proud of our vintage archive, with luxury handbags dating back to the 1970s. We’re also getting known for sourcing pieces from cult designers, such as Phoebe Philo when she was at Céline, and one-of-a-kind runway pieces.
Janice: With consumers increasingly moving towards digitalizing their lifestyle, we knew it was important to ensure that the human touch anchors the HuntStreet experience for our clients.
When we decided to launch in Singapore, our local team spent a considerable amount of time planning for our office space to have a retail showroom. Our showroom is centrally located in the Henderson area. It not only serves as an added assurance to buyers and sellers, but is a real-life extension of our online offering – something a pure online marketplace lacks.
Our showroom is designed like a retail store and offers a safe, welcoming space where shoppers can come and browse, or try on items in person before committing to a purchase. Our sales team is also on hand to assist with styling services to complete a desired look.
For prospective sellers, our showroom is a place where they can schedule an appointment to drop off their items, or speak to our team to better understand the selling process and requirements.