Re-sale, pre-loved and recycled clothing is cool again and the way we shop it is being updated. Forget rooting through unorderly boxes of musty, crumpled garms in dimly-lit vintage stores, now shopping second-hand is as easy as adding items to your ASOS basket.
It’s thanks to online boutiques like The Resolution Store - the site that sells clothes donated by the industry’s best-respected fashion bloggers - that second hand shopping has shifted back into focus.
Founders Anna Sutton and Alicia Waite are well-connected, having spent a combined total of twenty years working across fashion journalism and business consultancy in London. They’re privy to the reality of Instagram gifting and questioned what happened to blogger’s outfits after that sacred single photo was posted online. They wanted to provide a platform that meant people could shop directly from the wardrobes of their favourite social media stars but that ultimately lengthened the lifespan of gifted or once-worn clothes.
Lucy Williams, Camille Charriere, Pandora Sykes and Laura Jackson
When it launched online in September 2018, the boutique boasted items from the much-admired collections of Lucy Williams, Camille Charriere, Pandora Sykes and Laura Jackson, all of whom donated to the cause and promoted it through their personal channels.
Product ‘drops’ happen periodically and all items are available to shop at once which builds anticipation and conversation between followers around what’s to come. It’s a niche idea and there’s a feeling of exclusivity to the site. Unlike most re-sale concepts, there’s a sense of consistency in aesthetic, value and quality because every item is carefully selected by the website founders.
The tagline reads; ‘recycle, revive, reduce’, encompassing the boutique’s overarching ethos and plugging the conscious focus as opposed to the blogger collaboration angle. Images, however, are often taken directly from influencer accounts – a clever tactic and one that also attracts those less enticed by moral values. Brands include everything from Ganni and Realisation Par to Valentino and Gucci and items are sold at a fraction of the retail cost. Considering the good-as-new promise, it’s a savvy way to shop.
‘Recycle, revive, reduce’
Sutton and Waite are targeting the right audience with their approach. According to the 2019 ThredUp resale report, millennials and Gen Z (18-37 year olds and the people most engaged with Instagram and influencer marketing) are driving the increase in pre-loved fashion sales. The number of women who have bought or are willing to buy second hand fashion has risen from 45% in 2016 to 64% in 2018.
The report also states that 40% of consumers consider the re-sale value of an item before buying it – no surprise considering apps like Depop make it easy for anyone to sell online. Self-described as ‘the creative community’s mobile marketplace’,
Depop offers its users the chance to buy and sell unwanted clothing, and to build a personal community of like minded creatives. It now has over 10 million users.
Clothes and accessories for sale
The format is visually similar to Instagram and is arguably yet another social media platform, but with a more obvious way of its users making money. ‘Follow’ your favourite sellers and see them post photos of clothes and accessories for sale. The (perhaps accidental but) genius result of this approach is that it encourages people to experiment with styling in order to stand out, and even the most dated second-hand designs are given new life.
Vinted follows a similar concept, founded by Milda Mitkute and Justas Janauskas in 2008. What started life as a website used only by Mikute now operates as an app with 21 million downloads worldwide. Its success is proof that there’s a continued desire to find treasure in another man’s trash… and that there’s a place for clothing-centric sites. Again, buyers and sellers are encouraged to communicate directly with one another to exchange details as well as styling tips and tricks.
The interactive aspect of these sites is a running theme. Whether it’s a feeling of connection with a blogger you follow or the chance to engage in conversation with a seller on Vinted, communication is a powerful tool, and it’s working to raise awareness and interest in second hand shopping.
Perhaps our trust is gained or perhaps the growth is driven simply by a desire to have what everyone else is wearing, but whatever is fuelling us to shop re-sale and increase the lifespan of a garment is a step towards positive change for fashion.
Words: Sarah Leigh Bannerman