Lightly used. Preloved. Preowned. Whatever term they’re using, big fashion retailers across the world are starting to embrace second-hand sales. And why not? The online fashion resale market is exploding, growing 21 times faster than the broader retail market over the past three years, according to research from GlobalData.
But we think it’s fair to say this is somewhat overdue. People have been selling their second- hand-but-still-too-valuable-to-donate-to-goodwill clothes at garage sales and markets since, well, forever – meaning brick-and-mortar fashion retailers haven been missing out on this “recommerce” revenue stream for decades.
Of course, we understand there’s a fine-line between brand-building and selling second-hand goods, but if the item is going to be sold elsewhere anyway and there’s a profit to be made, surely it’s a fine-line worth walking. If retailers had have been faster, maybe online luxury fashion marketplaces like ThredUp, Vesitiaire Collective and Vide Dressing wouldn’t have been so successful. Anyhow, let’s take a look at some of the big retailers setting sail into the world of resaling.
Launched in New York in January this year and dubbed ‘See You Tomorrow’, Nordstrom’s second-hand offering allows customers to bring in their gently used pieces to be inspected by Nordstrom’s buyers. Any accepted items will be ‘bought’ from the customer by way of a gift card redeemable in-store or online. Just two months in and the See You Tomorrow range is already impressively large, with a solid representation of trendy brands – rag & bone, Comme des Garçons and kate spade to name just a few.
Fresh off the back of their partnership with Vestiaire Collective late last year, Selfridge’s next venture into high-end resale will see online retailer Kidswear Collective run a pop-up inside the Selfridges’ London flagship store, close to the Burberry and Gucci children’s ranges. Perfect, because, who doesn’t want a Burberry baby bib for £20 instead of £80?
Wander through the Myer Basement in Melbourne and you’ll soon stumble upon a concession for Miss Brown Vintage. Founded 25 years ago in Perth but now at home in Byron Bay, Miss Brown Vintage has 6 stores across Australia, and its reputation for sourcing oh-so-cool clothing and accessories from the 50’s to the 90’s has meant a permanent place inside Myer Melbourne.
The future of fashion retail is in the past?
Considering the meteoric rise in online second-hand fashion marketplaces, we can’t see this trend going away any time soon. We expect to see many more big brick-and-mortar retailers jumping on board in the next year or so by offering customers the opportunity to give their clothes a second (or third) life. A new revenue stream for established retailers which is gentler on the environment and delivers customers funky threads at a great price point. To quote Macklemore from his 2012 hit Thrift Shop, ‘This is f@#$%^&’ awesome!’.