TradeMe’s Everyday Fashion runway event and recent Circular Economy report has showcased that consumers are eager to buy preloved clothes, and are motivated to buy from brands that are driven by sustainable and ethical practices. The pre-owned and biddable fashion show in Aotearoa was hosted by TradeMe last week, with revenue from the sale of all garments going to RainbowYouth – a charity that provides resources and advocacy for Aotearoa’s queer, gender diverse, takatāpui, and intersex yo
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youth. The clothing items on display, which ranged from urban streetwear to high fashion, were curated by renowned fashion stylist Sammy Salsa. Bidding for the items closed on 1 March. Salsa told Inside Retail that the runway event had a big response, and he is pushing for future shows to be even bigger, better and more open to the public. He said that he was drawn to the event in part because he grew up on second-hand clothing and hand-me-downs. “We didn’t have much growing up as a family – that included the clothing that we wore every day. We were so used to wearing and sharing second hand clothes [with] our siblings, and hand-me-downs from our cousins and parents. It was so normal for us,” Salsa said. “I carried that into my everyday life and my career [and] try to instil my values of purchasing second hand wherever I can, both in my work and my daily life.” The runway event coincided with TradeMe’s Circular Economy report, which revealed that 72 per cent of Kiwis with pre-loved items were planning to sell at least some of their items. A further nine per cent were planning on selling all of it, while 84 per cent of respondents said they felt proud of their second-hand items. Salsa believes that the fashion industry in New Zealand has a strong record of promoting second hand clothing, and wearing clothes more than once. “[As a country] we’re [relatively] small and far detached from the rest of the world, [which is part of why] we have developed our own culture of wearing preloved items,” he said. “I don’t think we care as much about designer and luxury brands when it comes to our fashion choices. We’re happy to wear something that was bought from the Salvation Army.” He added that Gen Z – and the trend of people sharing their preloved items on social media platforms such as TikTok – had helped to remove stigma related to secondhand clothing. “When I was starting my career in fashion, [it] was kind of looked down upon to wear second hand clothing,” Salsa said. “I’m a millennial, and I’ve always loved second hand. But recently the push has come from Gen Z, and that demographic of influencers who are embracing second hand clothing. “It’s given it a whole new life.” Hidden Treasures Amid the runway event, TradeMe allowed customers to list and sell items within the clothing and fashion category free of charge between the 20 – 26 February. Sally Feinson, TradeMe’s Brand, Marketing and Communications Director, said that the organisation created Everyday Runway to celebrate the power of preloved fashion, and inspire Kiwis to consider second hand. She explained that its Circular Economy Report – which looked into how, why, what, and where Kiwis buy or sell second-hand – showed that each person has roughly seven items that they no longer want, or wear, that could be sold. “Our research showed that sustainability is a key motivation for participating in the circular economy, and this is something we have seen fashion brands recently hone in on,” Feinson said. “Consumers are really driving this change by being selective about the brands they engage with, and ensuring they have sustainable, ethical practices in place.” She added that cost of living is another key motivator, with 57 per cent of Kiwis agreeing that it was a bigger factor in their consideration of buying and selling preloved items, compared to two years ago. “Amid the rising cost of living and increased financial stress Kiwis are under, buying second-hand is going to become more accessible and realistic. It’s time we embrace pre-owned as a major source of clothing and fashion,” she said. Fashion needs to be inclusive Salsa explained that the biggest challenge within the curation process was choosing items based on images that had been uploaded on TradeMe. “I’m so used to seeing the garment up close and possible: touching it, feeling it and looking at how the clothes look on someone. I had to judge [the items] by the picture,” Salsa said. “I wanted to include as many iconic New Zealand designers as I could, and there were so many iconic [items of] clothing from collections that had a huge impact on the local fashion scene. I was super excited about the hidden treasures that could be found.” Another appeal for Salsa in working with TradeMe on Everyday Runway was its partnership with Rainbow Youth, and the work done by the organisation with the LGBTQIA+ community. “Being queer and Pacific, it’s super important for me to latch on to those organisations, and help support them. [Not] just for my career, but in my everyday life,” Salsa said. “It was nice to have them on board and have them as part of the show. Hopefully we make heaps of money for them.” He also emphasised the importance of continuing to build Everyday Runway, and providing the public with a greater role as part of the process. “Fashion should be inclusive, and shouldn’t be elitist or cliquey. It needs to be inclusive – not just for the people in the industry – but for consumers,” Salsa said.