How And Why To Promote Resale In Your Organization
Charles is the CEO and founder of Rebag, a trusted resource in luxury resale.
Let’s face it. The fashion and textile industry isn’t exactly good for the environment. With fashion being one of the most wasteful industries on the planet, I believe retailers as well as business leaders need to do away with the traditional linear model where businesses produce new goods that are sold to consumers, and once the consumer is done with the product, it ends up in a landfill, polluting the environment.
One solution to curb the waste that comes from a linear economy is for retailers to adopt a circular business model. Instead of disposing of articles of clothing and packaging materials, customers place their gently used items on resale platforms where new customers can purchase the piece and recycle the rest. Consumers are already emptying out their closets and putting their once-loved items on resale platforms like Rebag—the luxury resale platform that I founded—The RealReal, ThredUp, Vestiaire Collective or Depop. Even brands like Lululemon, Patagonia, Oscar de la Renta and Valentino are getting into the game by reselling items from their own labels. Brands like Gucci, Stella McCartney, Ulla Johnson and Reformation are also partnering with resale platforms to incentivize the circular fashion model. Circularity gives the product a new lifecycle with another consumer who ends up purchasing it and finding new value in it.
The luxury and premium resale market, which was valued at $25 billion to $30 billion in 2020, is expected to more than double in the next decade, according to a McKinsey & Company study released in the fall of 2021. Business leaders have a responsibility. It’s important for company leadership to implement circularity into their business practices in order to reduce the amount of waste as well as encourage their employees to participate in circular consumption. Start by questioning whether or not circularity works for your company and, if so—how. Read on to see five reasons why resale and circularity is a more earth-friendly alternative to purchasing items on the primary market.
Resale of today is more than thrift shopping.
I think we need to do away with the stigma that buying a previously-owned item means you’re purchasing a throwaway with that thrift-store odor. Shopping on the secondary market is becoming a more elevated experience and one that is better for the environment than purchasing new products.
Business leaders can encourage circularity among employees by participating in partnerships with brands that have a circular business model and by inviting experts to do workshops on the importance of circularity. When searching for an ideal partnership, look for a brand that genuinely aligns with your business ethos. For instance, my company recently partnered with a luxury e-commerce platform for a trunk sale of pre-owned items. We looked for a company that also focuses on luxury fashion, and through the partnership, we encouraged our partner’s customer base and employees to participate in circularity. If the brand isn’t a right fit for a partnership, it could appear contrived. Talk to other business leaders and see if a partnership is the right fit for both of your goals.
It takes fewer resources than producing new products for sale.
Producing new items in the fashion industry takes a lot of resources—and water. According to a CDP report, 79 billion cubic meters of water were used in the textile and garment industry in 2015. Let’s not forget the carbon footprint it requires to create new materials, dye, cut, and assemble them. By participating in a circular economy, consumers and businesses are helping to cut down on resources used to create new garments and accessories.
One way your organization can reduce resources is by looking at circular models that reuse packaging or materials. Rather than using packaging that ends up in landfills, opt for packaging that can be recycled or reused. Rent the Runway does this by shipping items in reusable garment bags that customers can use to return their clothes.
Once-loved items stay out of landfills.
In America alone, 85% of textiles that are thrown away annually end up in landfills. And let’s not forget the microplastics that end up in our waterways when apparel is washed. By helping consumers to resell items, businesses can keep the items from polluting the environment and out of landfills.
Businesses can also limit their textile waste by not overproducing. One way is the preorder model, in which only the amount of items sold is produced, therefore limiting excess textile waste.
The lifecycle of an item is extended.
The lifecycle of an item is no longer limited solely to how long its original owner finds it useful. With resale, the lifecycle of the product can go on infinitely. Once it’s placed on the resale market, a new customer can purchase it and use it for as long as they feel is necessary before sending it back on to the secondary market, where another consumer can find new joy in the product.
Resale is a more sustainable alternative to fast fashion.
Resale is less wasteful and has a lower carbon footprint than fast fashion in a number of different ways. New items aren’t being manufactured at the speed of light, nobody is using materials that aren’t biodegradable to create fresh inventory and items can be cycled back into the circular economy.
It may be challenging to achieve a circular business model, but ultimately taking these steps can help to curb carbon emissions, pollution and non-biodegradable waste. Do the research and ask experts questions in order to figure out the best way to point your business towards circularity, even if it means taking small steps like encouraging your employees to participate in circularity or changing your packaging. Every move counts if we want to save our planet.
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