Swipe right for yes and left for no. Vyne, an app launched earlier this month by two University of Maryland students, combines this familiar dating app approach with thrifting.
The app, exclusively available at this university, allows students to snap a picture of an item they’d like to sell before potential buyers swipe left or right until they discover items they’d like to purchase. Once they swipe right, they enter a chat with the seller where they can discuss the item and sale.
Co-founders Shaurya Saran and Vaughn Hatfield, both junior computer science majors, love to thrift but realized other thrifting apps were too tedious.
“It was inconvenient to use [other apps] because if I were to sell a $7 shirt, I wouldn’t want to box it up and go and ship it out,” Saran said.
If no one buys a seller’s clothes within 30 days, Saran and Hatfield volunteer to pick up the items free of charge and donate them to a local organization.
The app also partners with other local businesses — including student-run and university-centered shops such as Old Town New Clothes, Thrift at UMD and UMD Fit Check — allowing students to buy from and support one another.
“Having a sustainable fashion trend throughout campus would really limit the amount of clothes or any stuff in general, just going to waste,” Saran said. “You can make an opportunity and get monetized and get some money from it — so it’s kind of a win-win situation.”
Hatfield and Saran met as freshman roommates and have been friends since. Earlier this year, the two bounced around ideas for a project and decided on Vyne before spending all summer developing and perfecting it.
Creating the app was like a full-time job, Hatfield said. The pair met twice a week and worked for hours each day. Despite their studies, the two didn’t have as much experience with user interface or front-end development — the part of the app users see and interact with.
“It’s definitely a thing I’m proud of, looking back, because it was a long process, and I’m glad that we stuck with it throughout the whole summer and we didn’t give up,” Hatfield said. “There’s obviously some points where like, ‘Oh, this might not work out,’ but we overcame that barrier.”
After the app launched on Oct. 9, Saran and Hatfield hung up fliers around campus and joined this university’s startup shell incubator. The app has since gained around 300 users at this university.
The pair hopes to continue growing their app and potentially expand to other schools and hire new team members, Hatfield said.
Vyne allows users to not only gain new clothes, support sustainable fashion and clear out their closet, but creates a community of thrift-loving students, said junior computer science and math major Arjun Aggarwal, who has used the app.
“It’s definitely going to make a whole community and make a lot of people who are into thrifting just more tight-knit with each other,” Aggarwal said. “[Vyne’s] definitely a great way of meeting new people with similar interests.”