Are fashion resale sites worth it? More and more brands are creating fashion resale platforms. With the second-hand market expected to double over the next five year, there is no doubt that more brands will be selling their products on these platforms. Are they worth selling or buying? I decided to test some of them against second-hand apps and sites I love and the principles of circular fashion. These are my thoughts…
This review also tested my predictions when I looked at the planned and live fashion resale platforms of the following brands. I’d love for you to let me know what your thoughts are!
ADIDAS CHOOSES TO GIVE BACK
Adidas unveiled a new resale platform called Choose to Give Back in October 2021. After being tested on the adidas Creators club app, the sneaker brand announced that it would offer this service in cooperation with thredUP in the US to more customers via its website or stores in the early 2022. It has not yet been launched as of this writing.
The Choose To Give Back platform offers a limited view of resale. Although it is a simple platform that allows you to buy, sell, and even send out postage all from one app, there are some drawbacks. Any items that are sent to be sold must be approved by the brand before they can be sold. The brand may hold back almost-new items in order to sell them first-hand. The brand will keep customers connected to the brand by offering ‘rewards’ to users for any sales made on the platform. These rewards can be used to purchase new adidas products. What about non-sold items? These items will be ‘recycled through thredUP’s network of textile reuse partners’, however that may sound.
ReRun, the Allbirds new resale portal, is a great idea. They are serious about sustainability. This platform was launched in the US last month and offers a unique twist to traditional resales. Drop off gently used sneakers at selected retail locations to receive $20 credit. This is not a sin but a useful incentive. Allbirds will then “refurbish” the shoe and offer it for sale at two-thirds of its original retail price.
This service will be most appealing to customers with shoes that aren’t fitting, don’t perform or don’t suit. It will ensure they’re worn again, not thrown away. Will it encourage those who want to pay the full retail price, rather than $20? It is unlikely. It could also mean that Allbirds would stop selling its latest styles and instead sell more of their first-hand products. It might. It could. There are reports that Allbirds has allegedly stopped individuals from reselling their products. This suggests that Allbirds is trying to extract value from this process, rather than prioritising circularity and waste elimination.
It is worth noting that Allbirds states that shoes with heavier wear will be donated to Soles4Souls, which provides shoes for those who are in need. This means that only low-quality items will be donated. So how is this good?
Finally, when compared with existing footwear retailers’ fashion resale platforms, such as VivoBarefoot’s Revivo which accepts shoes of any condition and provides refurbishment since 2020, Allbirds seems to be on the back foot.
High-street brand COS, a sub-brand under fast fashion conglomerate H&M, launched Re-sell digital resales platform in September 2020. Their goal? To be a brand that promotes circular and renewable solutions. H&M’s ARKET sub-brand has also shown that a small sustainable solution in conjunction with a business model based on fast fashion is not enough to make a significant difference.
The COS Re-Sell platform is a stand-alone operation that I found to be very impressive. The platform is powered by Reflaunt and allows sellers to upload photos and details to a minimalist website. It charges a 10% commission when items are sold and allows sellers to pay in their currency. This is a significant advantage over reward schemes or store credit.
Re-Sell’s biggest problem is that COS items don’t look flat when photographed. They are uninviting, drab and baggy. Although I don’t know why H&M selected COS to test a resale site with, the style of their clothing makes me hesitant about purchasing. There may be some excitement in Other Stories. However, I often find that their clothes and shoes don’t fit well so it’s worth considering. Sellers are responsible for disposing any unwanted items that sit and sit on the site. This is not a great idea.
This is by far the best brand-owned fashion resale platform I have seen. It’s a shame it won’t be a major contributor to H&M’s fast fashion empire.
EILEEN FISHER RENEW
Eileen Fisher is the model for brand-owned fashion resale websites. Eileen Fisher Renew was launched in 2009 as a grassroots effort to collect used garments from employees, resell them to customers and donate the proceeds of the sale to Eileen Fisher’s charity foundation. Today, there are two Renew stores in the US as well as an online store that houses more than 20,000 second-hand clothes. It is worth noting that due to the pandemic, the charity element has been reduced and now includes garment donations.
Renew has grown from an internal initiative to become a major fashion resale platform. Their take-back program is open to all Eileen Fisher clothes, in any condition. Customers receive $5 gift cards for every item they return. They have returned over 1.6 million garments to date. Good quality, clean, unblemished items are professionally washed in closed-loop cleaning systems and then sold in-store or online. The remainder of the returned items, which make up around 25% of all returned items, are recycled and some go into Eileen Fisher’s Waste No More homewares.
Renew does not allow you to return online purchases to stores. Gift cards cannot be accepted at the moment, but this will change soon. This is a great example of circularity and it drives additional returns for the brand, once gift cards are accepted.
FARFETCH SECOND LIFE
FARFETCH Second life is the first luxury fashion resale platform on this list. Second Life is based on FARFETCH’s pre-owned collection and functions like a luxury consignment site. Sellers send details of their items for evaluation, estimation, and finally listing on the site.
FARFETCH started out safe by offering bags only from a small number of luxury brands. Sellers can expect to receive between 30-60% of the original retail value depending on their bags. Is it worth the effort? If you are looking for quick sales, I would say yes. After receiving your digital quote, you can send your bags directly to FARFETCH. Credit will be issued within 10 business days. The catch is that you will only get paid in FARFETCH credit and not cash. Even if you were looking for a quick sale it would be only so you could buy something new from FARFETCH. This doesn’t appeal to me and it’s also not true circularity.
Additionally, Second Life doesn’t seem to be a viable alternative with platforms like Vestiaire Collect* offering similar returns, a larger userbase, and cash payment, so I doubt it will ever be.
So, which FASHION RESALE PLATFORMS are any good?
Honestly? It’s really not worth it if you want to sell via any of these platforms. Apps and sites that sell secondhand are still a step ahead. They offer a larger customer base, cash payments, and greater circularity.
However, I feel incentivised by Farfetch Second Life and COS Re-Sell to save my favorite shops in the future. These may be a better place to buy niche items like a COS garment or luxury handbag. It is just a shame that they lack the selling appeal.
It’s not clear what happens to many of the garments, shoes and bags that don’t conform to each brand’s resale guidelines. You may be able to leave the items alone. Others may refuse to accept them. Some may refuse them. Others might donate them to charity to dump. We need to see more transparency and have better textile recycling systems worldwide.