Levi’s has also recently launched Levi’s SecondHand, a buy-back and resale online marketplace where customers can purchase secondhand Levi’s jeans.
Jen Sey, Levi’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer, said in a Q&A on their site a lot of consumers these days are looking to make more conscious, more intentional decisions about what they buy and what they really need, which is part of why the re-commerce market is booming right now.
“Years ago, if you wanted a pair of secondhand Levi’s, you’d have to go to a flea market and pray that the denim gods were on your side,” Sey said. “Our online platform makes it easy to shop sustainably and find denim that’s been broken-in and made better by time. Here you’ll find coveted pre-worn pieces from past seasons, at a fair price, without leaving the house.”
When a customer brings in worn Levi’s that can be resold, they will be offered between $15 and $25 in store credit, Sey explained.
“If it’s vintage, we’ll give them between $30 and $35,” Sey said. “We’ll then post the garments on the SecondHand marketplace on levi.com, selling them for roughly $30 to $100.”
Even if the jeans are too worn to sell again, Levi’s offers the customer $5 toward a future purchase.
Levi’s is currently working with a company called Trove, a re-commerce tech and logistics startup that handles the back end of the site, which means they’ll clean the garments, process the inventory and fulfill orders.
Sey said this program is very important to the company as it could help stem the negative impact the fashion industry is causing the environment.
“Repurposing and repairing jeans uses only a minimal amount of energy, a minimal amount of water and no dyes,” she said. “Buying a used pair of Levi’s saves approximately 80 per cent of the CO2 emissions and 1.5 pounds (700 grams) of waste compared to buying a new pair of Levi’s. That’s every pair. As we scale this SecondHand program globally, that will really start adding up.”
The Covid-19 effect
Research from ThredUp and GlobalData showed the second-hand fashion market had been a bright spot in the broader Covid retail slump with online reselling set to grow 69 per cent between 2019 and 2021, while the broader retail sector is projected to shrink 15 per cent. As of 2020, the online clothing resale market is valued at $28 billion.
“For all the challenges Covid posed to our assumptions about consumer behaviour, one thing is clear: consumers everywhere are prioritising value and accelerating the shift to thrift,” said ThredUp president Anthony S. Marino on the retailer’s 2020 Resale Report. “When times get uncertain, we all focus on our family balance sheet.”
But while the economy has taken a major hit this year, ThredUp, an online marketplace for secondhand clothing, recently filed a confidential registration statement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering. It has not yet disclosed, however, the size or price range for the offering. The company said the IPO is expected to commence after the SEC completes its review process which could be early next year.
ThredUp has also recently partnered with designer clothing rental service Rent the Runway where they offer “retired” previously rented clothing for sale for up to 80 per cent off retail prices.
According to the company, the collaboration will fight fashion waste and quadruple the lifespan of dresses.
H&M is one of the clothing brands that features on Thred Up. H&M CEO Helena Helmersson said Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of sustainability.
“Demand for good value and sustainable products is expected to grow in the wake of the pandemic and our customer offering is well positioned for this,” Helmersson said.
The global fast fashion retailer is indeed well positioned to meet this demand. H&M has not only invested in sustainable fashion, recycling and clothing collection for years, it has also entered the fashion resale market.
According to H&M, the second-hand market is one of the fastest growing economic sectors within the fashion industry and offers a sustainable, modern and personalised offer and shopping experience for consumers.
The group’s London-based fashion brand COS recently launched Resell in the United Kingdom and Germany, an online marketplace that provides a platform to buy and sell pre-loved COS clothing. The site will be made available globally for buyers later this year.
The H&M Group also invested in online second-hand clothing shop Sellpy in 2015, through its investment arm CO:LAB. The online shop has been a go-to place for second-hand shoppers in Sweden since 2014.
“Every garment that is bought secondhand, saves valuable resources for our planet,” said Michael Arnör, Sellpy CEO. “As Sweden’s largest online shop for second-hand [goods], we want to empower everyone to live circular. So we make it super easy to give articles a second chance.”
Last June, H&M expanded the reselling platform in Germany, making it possible for customers to shop from a wide range of second-hand pieces or resell their preloved clothing.
H&M has also had a trial selling second-hand and vintage clothing on the Swedish site of its brand & Other Stories.
Growth in resale
According to Fanny Moizant, co-founder of Vestiaire Collective, affordability, selection availability, item uniqueness and the consumers’ mounting environmental concerns all contributed to the resale market’s growth.
Vestiaire Collective, which was founded in Paris in 2009, is an online marketplace where shoppers can buy and sell pre-owned designer clothing and accessories.
“This shift has been further accelerated by the pandemic where 70 per cent of respondents feel compelled to shop for pre-owned goods in an effort to become more sustainable,” Moizant told Inside Retail, referring to a recent survey the company conducted in partnership with the Boston Consulting Group earlier this year which reveals the evolving dynamics of the global resale market.
“The resale market has grown from a shift in the consumer mindset about the impact their wardrobe has on the environment and the way they buy fashion,” Moizant said. “The increasing awareness surrounding sustainability has driven more and more consumers to resale.”
Moizant said there has been an increase in sellers and buyers on their marketplace this year, with Australia seeing over 80 per cent and 160 per cent growth respectively since the start of the year.
“On the sales side, we saw customers engaging with our app as they had more time to browse from home and the demand for pre-owned is growing, orders are up more than 144 per cent versus last year so we can really see the increased demand for pre-owned fashion,” she said. “More than ever, people are now questioning their habits and looking for eco-conscious alternatives.”
Moizant said even with their global community of over 10 million buyers and sellers, they have no plans in place to put up a physical store. She said, however, that they are continuing to focus on driving international expansion, with the Asia Pacific region a key focus over the next couple of years.
She said the company is also looking to extend into more key markets in the APAC region, with a particular focus on Japan and South Korea.
“Consumers are moving away from the idea of fast fashion and are starting to think about investing in high-quality pieces that are still going to be valuable 10 years from now rather than impulsively buying,” Moizant explained. “Our community is looking for unique pieces that will set them apart from the crowd.”
What Moizant said was backed by ThredUp’s 2020 Resale Report which revealed that the resale market is expected to grow to almost twice the size of fast fashion by 2029.
Resale extends to more categories
The resale boom is not only limited to clothing, it has also helped boost the sales on second-hand sneakers and second-hand accessories like handbags.
Online retailers like StockX and GOAT have been able to withstand the pandemic because demand for its reselling platform has sustained and they’re mostly a digital business.
Rachael Wang, a New York-based stylist, creative consultant and ethical fashion advocate on Levi’s SecondHand Stories interview series, said it is a time for change.
“Collectively we are experiencing trauma as Covid-19 has affected most of us in some way. It is a tremendously empowering and inspiring time,” said Wang.
“I am constantly reminding myself to stay open, stay emotionally available, to learn, to unlearn and to show up physically and emotionally. It’s easy to want to hide right now. It takes a lot from us emotionally to engage with this kind of collective work, but one day in the future, when I look back on this time, I want to be proud of the person that rose to meet the occasion. I want to be on the right side of history.”