Preppy US fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger has partnered with online thrift and consignment store ThredUp to launch a resale program for eligible preloved clothing. The initiative is part of Tommy Hilfiger’s commitment to creating a more sustainable future in fashion, giving its clothing a second life. The collaboration uses the Resale-as-a-Service project ThredUp created and enables customers in the US to post their unwanted items from Tommy Hilfiger and other select brands to be sold via a dedic
dicated Tommy Hilfiger and ThredUp website. Items for resale must be gently used, with no signs of wear or damage, and no alterations. Participating in the program is straightforward. People can request a prepaid shipping label from the website and send their clothes to ThredUp for sorting. It’s estimated that half of the clothing from each kit received will qualify for resale. The rest can be returned to the sender or recycled responsibly. Sellers who qualify to have their preloved clothing sold on the website will receive between 3 and 80 per cent of the sale price. This depends on the brand and condition of the item; for example, a seller may receive 21 per cent of the sell price for a J Crew sweater, while they might get 80 per cent for a Celine handbag. Tommy Hilfiger pays less when it comes to value brands, such as Zara, Asos, GAP and Levi’s, as they are typically low-price items and will cost more to process than their resale value. In the US, it’s estimated that 36 billion clothing items are thrown away each year. A staggering number when 95 per cent could be reused or recycled. Through this program, Tommy Hilfiger aims to extend the life of clothing through secondhand sales, which will have a flow-on effect. This will slow down clothing production and divert clothes from going to landfill. ThredUp’s 2022 Resale report shows that the secondhand market in the US is expected to more than double by 2026, taking its value to an estimated $82 billion in just four short years. Technology and marketplaces are driving growth by making it easier and more convenient for shoppers to browse and purchase preloved clothing online. However, there are a couple of conflicting issues at the intersection of resale and circular fashion and Tommy Hilfiger’s collaboration with ThredUp mentions them on the website. Clothing sent to ThredUp for resale needs to have sizing information intact and the item must not be altered. Alterations and custom fit This leads to an important conversation around made-to-measure, personalised or custom fit, and general alterations. It is becoming commonplace for premium and challenger brands to offer a specialised service to make clothes specifically to a customer’s measurements. Some brands are incorporating fit technology into the process, making it easy for customers to take their measurements at home. Data captured enables brands to design and manufacture custom-fit clothing for their customers to own and wear longer, as it becomes an investment piece. But, after 10 or 15 years, we can be inspired by Marie Kondo to reorganise our lives and that custom-made item gets sent to the thrift store – because in our minds it’s too good to throw away. it’s usually not a perfect fit for the next owner, however, and the sizing information may not have captured the item’s specifications accurately. At this point, we’ll have reached another impasse in fashion’s circular journey, a point where millions of custom fit clothes get stuck in limbo. Unless we start thinking about this now and coming up with solutions, very little will change and these clothes end up in landfill. It’s likely the technology to overcome this challenge will advance just as quickly as the resale market. Brands will need to integrate physical and digital methods to capture the size and shape of a custom-fit item, securely attach that information to the item and ensure it stays with it through its life. Then as marketplaces evolve, ideally their digital capabilities will group and filter clothing by shape, fit and size – down to the centimetre. This raises another question: with the resale market booming, is hyper-consumerism associated with fast fashion shifting to preloved fashion? Fast (preloved) fashion In ThredUp’s Resale report, it states that most shoppers aspire to buy more secondhand and want to quit fast fashion. However, 59 per cent of fast fashion shoppers felt that shopping for fast fashion was a difficult habit to break. And 72 per cent of consumers said they buy fast fashion because it’s cheap and convenient. On the flipside, thrift shoppers who buy secondhand clothes believe they save money, gain access to higher-end brands and sometimes find those one-of-a-kind pieces. As resale increases, so do consumerism and buying based on trends for a quick fix. This isn’t too different from buying behaviours and sentiment related to shopping for fast fashion. Is that a concern? Maybe, but it’s not a simple question. Shopping for clothes is far more complex than many people realise. There are multiple personal factors about an individual that drive purchase decisions. These can include their preferences, socioeconomic status, goals, identity, social life, religion and beliefs. Decisions could also be based on an upcoming event or mood, or a desire to be part of a TikTok trend. About five years ago, I said on a podcast, “Fast fashion has a place, but it doesn’t have a home.” Meaning the disruptive force of fast fashion has shown a traditional industry a very new and quick way to design, manufacture, and distribute clothes faster than anything else in the world, but fast fashion also holds little weight in hearts and wardrobes. Finding a way to build emotional connections between these garments and the people who buy them is a challenge the industry needs to face – for its own sake and the environment. These trends and sentiments are growing pains in a global fashion system that is accelerating while finding faults along the way. And as the resale market continues to make its way into retail strategies, brands such as Tommy Hilfiger will integrate aspects of new retail in an effort to do better. Like a custom-fit garment, brands are tailoring business components to their taste and objectives. Fashion just needs to be able to sustain it with little impact on the planet and put avenues in place to ensure we are consuming, reusing, and recycling responsibly.