Second-Hand Shopping

Platforms that facilitate the donation and purchase of gently used, “pre-loved” clothing represent one key part of the circular fashion eco-system, along with other post-first-sale techniques such as recycling, upcycling, and rental. In the past month alone, several fashion brands and retailers have made moves to strengthen their position in the second-hand sales space:

  • Luxury online site MyTheresa teamed with Vestiaire Collective, a fashion resale app, to allow its high-end customers, who are invited to join the program, to return pre-owned items and be paid immediately with store credit. Consumers upload information about the garment to a web interface, are given a price quote, and are paid as soon as their piece is received by Vestiaire and passes verification and quality checks. The items then become available for resale worldwide on the Vestiaire app. Initially, the program is limited to handbags from about 20 designer brands, but it is expected to expand to additional categories and labels before the end of the year.  
  • Designer label Isabel Marant launched Isabel Marant Vintage, a site that allows customers to donate used clothing they had purchased from the brand in the past to be restored and resold. Proceeds go to the Isabel Marant Endowment Fund, which supports artisan craftsmanship and women’s education in indigenous communities. Those who donate receive a voucher that that can be used on the new vintage site—which also sells unsold clothing, accessories, and footwear from past collections—as well as in Isabel Marant shops and in-store boutiques and on its mainline ecommerce site. The label also works with Vestiaire Collective to promote the resale of second-hand items.
  • Benetton made its initial foray into the second-hand space through a partnership with peer-to-peer vintage marketplace and social shopping channel Depop. As part of the venture, five Depop sellers in the U.K. and 15 in the U.S. curated 60-piece collections of vintage Benetton items, many of them rare, for their respective markets. The move was positioned as part of Benetton’s strategy to strength its brand with Gen Z consumers. Earlier this month, Etsy purchased Depop, which was founded in 2011, for $1.625 billion.
  • H&M announced that it was expanding its Sellpy second-hand online shop, whose presence to date has been limited to three markets in Sweden, as well as Amsterdam, Netherlands. The effort will bring the platform into 20 additional countries across Europe. Unlike other services, where consumers bring their garments to a store or ship them to the platform, Sellpy picks up the used goods from consumers in the cities where it operates. H&M owns about 70% of Sellpy, of which it first purchased a share in 2015. Sellpy says it has resold more than nine million garments to date. 
  • Littlewoods Ireland, that country’s largest online department store, paired with U.K.-based second-hand platform Re-Fashion, marking the latter’s entry into the Irish market. Consumers order a free shipping bag, print out a return form, and drop their items off at a pack-and-ship store. In addition to second-hand garments, Re-Fashion also sells Rag Bags containing pieces that have small defects (stains, tears, broken zippers) that can’t easily be restored, so consumers can upcycle them into their own unique fashion statements. Proceeds from sales go to the Rieves Foundation, which promotes sustainable fashion.

Re-sale of second-hand goods is just one potential component of a sustainability strategy, but it is an increasingly important one, especially when it comes to the apparel, accessories, and footwear categories.

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