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Editorial: Mass-market brands dip into vintage and thrift
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Editorial: Mass-market brands dip into vintage and thrift


Fast-fashion retailers are introducing resale platforms — but is it all just greenwashing?

Big-brand clothiers are cashing in on the vintage and resale markets in the name of sustainability.

Some fast-fashion makers are now introducing apparel resale platforms as a new means of revenue. The marketplaces are billed as more of a complement to, rather than a substitute for, purchasing new.

But with fast-fashion brands at the heart of the clothing industry’s sustainability struggle, it’s also somewhat paradoxical. According to the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion, the fashion industry generates 20 per cent of the globe’s pollution from industrial wastewater.

Here’s a quick look at who’s doing what:

H&M Rewear

H&M Canada has launched H&M Rewear, a buy-and-sell marketplace for pre-loved clothing. The company says the site will help to “close the loop.” The site is not limited to H&M fashions, either — buyers can find everything from adidas to Uniqlo to Guess.

H&M offers a first picture retouch on uploaded images to ensure what it calls a “premium visual experience,” and recommends listing prices for sellers.

"Although we offer garment collecting in our stores, we felt it was important to find a second way for our customers to recycle their clothing,” says Géraldine Maunier-Rossi, head of marketing for H&M Canada, in a statement.

“With H&M Rewear, we are not only offering a place for Canadians to recycle and reuse products, but we are giving them a platform to become active participants in circularity.”

Sellers can choose between receiving payment as a direct deposit or an H&M gift card with an added 20 per cent value that can be redeemed at H&M online and in store.

URBN’S Nuuly Thrift

Urban Outfitters, Inc. (URBN), parent company of Anthropologie, Free People and Urban Outfitters, is another brand establishing an online resale marketplace this fall.

Nuuly Thrift will feature women’s, men's and kids' apparel and accessories, and, with a cash-back program in place for sellers that can be used in the parent stores, the marketplace will also contribute to incremental full-price sales.

“We’re excited for URBN to capitalize on shifting customer behaviour and gain market share in the rapidly expanding online resale market,” says Richard A. Hayne, CEO and chair of Urban Outfitters, Inc., in a statement.

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When customers sell an item on Nuuly Thrift, they can receive payment as direct deposit or as Nuuly Cash, which is worth 10 per cent more at Nuuly Thrift and the URBN family of brands.

For example: if a customer is paid $100 for a dress on Nuuly Thrift, that customer will have the option to convert it to $110 in Nuuly Cash, which can be spent back on Nuuly Thrift, or at Anthropologie, Free People, Urban Outfitters, BHLDN or Terrain – online and in stores.

Like H&M’s platform, the Nuuly Thrift marketplace won’t be limited to URBN brands.

The company already offers Nuuly Rent, the subscription rental service for women’s apparel, which will offer its end-of-life rental inventory to Nuuly Thrift.

High fashion, decor join resale market

Scandinavian high-fashion brand Ganni took a different tack in June 2021, offering a capsule collection of its archived and pre-loved styles via Vestiaire Collective, an online pre-loved luxury marketplace.

RH, parent company of Restoration Hardware, is one of the latest to join the reselling space. In RH’s Q2 2021 earnings call, CEO Gary Friedman said the furniture giant is introducing RH Antiques & Artifacts.

The platform will be a curated selection of RH’s luxury furnishings from eras past, presented in a design context that mirrors the company’s showrooms and catalogues. That’s what will differentiate RH’s offering from aggregate marketplaces, Friedman says.

From a business perspective, these moves make sense. It’s an additional revenue stream that ensures mass-market brands aren’t left out of the ever-increasing conversation about recycling.

But if a brand doesn’t fundamentally change the way it manufactures its products, will introducing consumer-facing measures, such as reselling marketplaces, make up for it?

What do you think about mass-market brands cashing in on resale? Let us know in the comments!

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