James Harford-Tyrer, founder of luxury resale platform Cudoni, has come a long way from selling Henry Hoovers aged 12. He talks to Drapers about circular fashion, audiobooks and investment.
New fashion business models are booming, and luxury resale platform Cudoni is one company benefitting from the boost.
Founded in 2017 by James Harford-Tyrer, the site aims to provide a luxury resale service for buyers and sellers alike – offering home collections for items that are on sale and expert valuations.
The name stems from the site’s first-ever customer, Countess Antonella Cudone, who still uses the site’s service today.
The model has proved popular and has drawn investors such as Nick Wheeler, founder of Charles Tyrwhitt. Harford-Tyrer says stock intake – the value of stock consigned with the site – rose by 190% year on year in December 2019.
He speaks to Drapers about building up a luxury, circular fashion business.
What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
Often I wake up just before my alarm, so it’s always a race to turn it off before it’s too late. Alarms are somewhat my trademark – I’m famous for over-using them in the Cudoni office.
What was your first job?
I was selling people’s unwanted items from their homes at 12 years old. From an old Henry Hoover to the latest Hermès Birkin bag. Things have changed, but the mentality is all the same.
How would you describe the brand in one sentence?
For luxury owners with busy lifestyles.
What’s your coffee (or tea) order?
It was a chai latte, until I learned they have little to no caffeine in them. Now it’s double-shot lattes by the hour.
Where are your favourite places to shop?
The Kooples. It’s sophisticated, modern, and a little bit cool.
Last fashion purchase?
A Tag Heuer watch. A bit of a splurge, but I believe it’s better to invest in quality items that will last. It’s silver with a navy face, and its classic Swiss look is what caught my eye.
Emails or phone calls?
Emails if short on time, phone calls if I’m looking for an outcome.
Most important lesson you’ve learned during your career?
What would be your ideal office/meeting space?
Somewhere with a view overlooking the city.
What’s your favourite part of the creative process?
Collaboration. There is certainly power in numbers. The most innovative and high quality of work is typically created by a collective of minds.
What has been your proudest moment since the brand launched?
Our most recent fundraising of £1.4m, and Matt Cooper (of Capital One and chairman of Octopus Investments) becoming our chairman.
What’s the last book you read?
Does an audiobook count? If so, Never Split The Difference. It’s a brilliant book on negotiation by a former hostage negotiator for the FBI, Chris Voss.
The ultimate celebration: a stag-do in Prague.
Who in the fashion/retail industry inspires you?
Nick Wheeler, founder of Charles Tyrwhitt. He’s one of our investors and the epitome of everything that’s great about the industry.
What’s the biggest challenge facing fashion today?
Sustainability. We are now living in a fast-paced world, where time is valuable and our impact on the planet is greater. It has become essential that we have more sustainable options that support circular fashion.
What one piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t be afraid to take risks. Be fearless. Sure, you can fail. But the only true failure is in not trying at all.
Who do you turn to when you need advice?
Matt Cooper – our chairman – business mentors, friends and family. I always value their advice highly.
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
Hitting the tennis courts, or exploring the great restaurants and bars London has to offer with friends and family. The Ivy in Chelsea is a favourite, but you should definitely visit Jinjuu in Soho. It’s exceptional Korean street food: try their wagyu bulgogi sliders.
What are you looking forward to most in the year ahead?
Working with, and learning from, more brilliant people and brands. It will be a big year for expansion and growth for Cudoni, and these limitless opportunities are incredibly exciting.