Retail’s biggest new trend isn’t so new at all: it’s all about resale.
The recent acquisition of Depop by Etsy for $1.6 billion cements it. Appealing to a conscious consumer who is growing increasingly concerned about fast-fashion, it has emerged as one of the biggest shifts in retail in recent years, with a new global report by market research firm GlobalData finding that the secondhand clothing market is growing 11 times faster than traditional retail, and is estimated to be worth more than double that of fast fashion, at $84 billion by 2030 (while fast fashion projected to be worth around $40 billion at the same time).
It’s no surprise, then, that retail giants on all ends of the market have been strengthening their position in resale: Gucci has recently launched a luxury consignment online store, ASOS has invested in luxury resale, as well as allowing secondhand clothing on its ASOS marketplace, and Levi’s has launched its own resale site, too, Levi’s Secondhand.
Offering circularity, reduced waste and access to clothing at reduced prices, resale checks many boxes for today’s consumer – and the trend reports prove it. With big businesses getting in on the act, is this the time for small businesses to join the growing trend, too?
Whether that means starting a resale business or adding circularity into an existing business model, many small businesses are adopting this trend.
Adding resale into a small business’ model
Some small businesses are already adding resale to their existing business model, in a similar way to Levi’s and Gucci.
British-made luxury clothing label Mignonnette London, founded by Joon Rajkovic and specialising in timeless, elegant dresses and slow fashion, has recently launched a circular element to its business. ‘Mignonnette Reimagined’ is a new programme by which the brand will offer to buy back your old Mignonnette London dress, in exchange for credits to put towards a new one: keeping longtime customers, while at the same time supporting the ethical values of the brand.
New small business resale platforms
Other small businesses are starting their own resale platforms. Anne-Marie Tomchak, a former Vogue digital director, and founder & CEO of the sustainability tech company DesignTracker has also co-founded the fashion non-profit ShareJoy. The platform allows users to donate their old clothing to be resold, with the proceeds going to charity. Tomchak founded ShareJoy at the start of lockdown as a way of raising funds for mental health.
“The reason we opted to start a resale platform is because there are literally tens of millions of pounds worth of clothes sitting dormant in people’s wardrobes. We noticed that donations to charities had gone down, despite an increase in demand for mental health services. So, we wanted to use the existing resources in the circular economy to help the third sector. Our mantra is: “what’s in your wardrobe has the power to transform lives,” explains Tomchak.
Tomchak has noticed a sizeable shift in peoples’ attitudes towards secondhand clothing, too: ““The fashion industry is well known for creating an appetite for new things. But our definition of what “new” means is changing. Now, a new outfit could come from rental or resale. There has been a big shift with consumer opinions towards resale being totally revolutionized.”
“We’re not trying to preach, we’re trying to get away from dictating what is fashionable towards allowing people to express themselves through clothes,” she adds.
The advancing technology behind resale
As well as the shift in consumer behaviour, resale is becoming more accessible for small businesses as the technology behind it improves.
ShareJoy, for example, uses Depop to sell – a prime example of how this huge platform is helping small businesses create resale businesses, as well as being used by private individuals.
Tony McGurk, chairman and co-founder of Cryptocycle, uses blockchain technology to allow any items, including garments to be tracked through their lifecycle.
Using an NFC tag which looks like a button, the life and journey of a garment can be tracked. The tag itself is low-cost (costing under £1), and can allow any business, big or small, to provide a clear account of how a garment is made and later used. For example, when an item of clothing is donated to a charity shop, this can be tracked and means the consumer could be offered rewards for a new piece of clothing by the brand.
It’s a novel way for small businesses to easily add the circularity of resale into their business model, using a white-label app, while also aiming to give control over the circularity back to the customer.
With the resale industry booming, it makes sense that the infrastructure to facilitate is also developing at a rapid rate. While the future is never certain, you can always expect these advances to follow where the money is – growing the market even further. The resale industry is circular in more ways than one: it would seem that there’s no better time for sustainable small businesses to join the expanding market.