When Alyssa Mariano saw a gap in the market for trading pre-loved fashion items, she created the region’s largest peer-to-peer fashion resale app. Here, she describes her journey, her mission, and how to bag that designer bag.

What led to you setting up Bazaara?
I’ve always been extremely passionate about sustainability and the environment. Not only this, but I’ve been obsessed with thrifting and vintage since I can remember. With the fashion industry’s impact on the environment only continuing to get worse with the rise of popularity in fast fashion, I wanted to do something about it. After noticing that there wasn’t a platform for people to buy, sell and trade their unwanted fashion items directly with each other, I realised there was a gap in the market.

Do you think fast fashion has had its day? 
Unfortunately, with the fashion industry now being the second largest polluter by industry, and third largest consumer of water, a lot of this is being contributed by the fast fashion industry. But the positive news is that we are seeing an increasing awareness among consumers about the negative environmental and social impacts of fast fashion. According to a ThreadUp report, the resale industry has been estimated to overtake the fast fashion industry by 2029.

What fashion trends do you think people most follow in the UAE? 
People living in the UAE are always on trend. With Dubai being a massively cosmopolitan city, there’s a vast mix of cultures and fashion influences from around the world. What I love and what differentiates the region from the West is that people here can stay on trend in luxury and streetwear but in a more modest fashion. It’s always exciting to see the region’s take on certain trends.

Are UAE fashionistas bang on trend?
Definitely! The UAE is a highly cosmopolitan country, with a diverse population that includes people of many nationalities and cultures. This diverse mix helps to create a vibrant fashion scene that is constantly evolving with new styles and trends, while also incorporating traditional and cultural influences. What is popular recently are bold and adventurous styles, colour combinations, and statement pieces.

Do you see many designer pieces via the app?
Yes! It’s thrilling to see what new or vintage designer pieces pop up for sale on the app each day. We see a whole range of designer items, from bags to shoes and clothing, and we are working on some exciting new features to allow people to resell their pre-loved luxury items to others with even more ease.

What’s the most satisfying part of your work?
The most satisfying part of my work is undoubtedly knowing that we’re contributing to a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry – the resale industry provides an alternative to shopping for new items that can help reduce fashion waste and promote circular fashion. Not only this, but knowing that we are providing a platform that allows people to give their pre-loved clothes new life is incredibly rewarding, allowing them to reduce their carbon footprint.

What brands do you see most often on the app?
We see a lot of the mainstream popular brands – Mango, Zara, etc., but also some of the smaller boutique brands in the region, highlighting regional designers and brands – which we love to see. We also see the usual luxury brands such as Gucci, Bottega, Prada and the likes.

But it’s not just clothes, right?
We are technically a resale fashion platform, but we also have categories for accessories, lifestyle and small home decor items.

What do you do to give yourself a little luxury in life? 
I love taking a good book to the beach or pool and taking a couple hours on the weekend to unwind and recharge for the upcoming week. It helps me reset my creativity and motivation for the week ahead.

Who would you most like to meet? 
I would like to meet Whitney Wolfe – Co-Founder of Bumble, or Melanie Perkins – Co-Founder of Canva. It would be incredible to pick their brains about being a female founder in male-dominated industries, how they overcame bias, raised money and scaled their businesses into unicorns.

Will Bazaara be launching in other countries?
We have already soft-launched in KSA and are planning a full launch towards summer of 2023. We have exciting additional launches in the pipeline – stay tuned!

What’s the most expensive item sold on Bazaara?
While we don’t focus on luxury items, there has been a good amount of vintage and pre-loved luxuries sold. The most expensive item sold on Bazaara so far has been a vintage Louis Vuitton bag.

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