With the ever-growing demand from consumers for brands to show greater transparency and action towards sustainable business practices, more fashion industry giants than ever are seeking to lead by example. According to GWI’s Zeitgeist report on consumer data, 39% of consumers prefer their supported brands to use sustainably sourced materials in their products, and 32% want supply chain transparency. With greenwashing and unclear sustainability pledges becoming more prominent; this creates a new opportunity for brands to gain an advantage over their competitors by candidly outlining their sustainability initiatives to the public and onboarding new circular economy providers.
Brands like e-tailer, ASOS, are venturing to blur the lines between retail and resale by partnering with garment reuse and rental service providers to offer consumers the opportunity to send in bags of pre-loved clothing in exchange for vouchers, store credit, or donations to select charities. Alongside this program, the brand is offering a 47-piece trend-led collection that heeds to the circular practices that any progressive brand would aspire to. Some of the products were designed using 3D design, effectively removing the need for sample manufacturing in the design process.
There is still the question of whether or not resale is in and of itself entirely profitable. Since going public in 2019, prominent reselling platforms like The RealReal, ThredUp, and Poshmark have seen double-digit percentage sales growth despite warning investors that they cannot ensure profitability and significant losses were probable. Though all three companies have seen compelling growth, they also all reported losses in their most recent quarter. The course of individually processing and listing thousands of unique items results in complex logistics that cannot be automated. Eager to procure a standing in the developing world of resale e-commerce, companies like Poshmark are spending 44% of their revenue on marketing alone. Despite the obstacles, there is still an enormous opportunity for advancement. According to estimates by Business of Fashion Insights, secondhand has the capacity to grow to a $67 billion market by 2025 in the United States alone.
Hybridizing the option to shop secondhand and responsibly sourced retail eliminates the need for consumers to seek out environmentally conscious methods of shopping elsewhere while simultaneously shifting their public perception to a more sustainable image and maximizing the likelihood of profitable margins.