The resale market is fast fashion’s latest greenwashing ploy

While we should strive to give credit where it’s due, we also need to recognize that the brands that launch resale services are the same ones that cling to straws to sell themselves as operating sustainably.

Offering these services presents a great opportunity for brands to shout out their commitment to circular fashion without changing much else that happens behind the scenes.

Experts agree that circular fashion is defined by reducing the production of virgin garments which, in turn, minimizes consumption. They also say that the mass production of clothing should be replaced by services and behaviors that prolong the use of clothing as much as possible.

And while it might seem like brands are doing something similar by launching resale sections on their websites, it would be naïve to believe that the fast fashion industry is really shutting down business as usual.

On closer inspection, the launch of in-house resale and rental services does not generate another one an avenue of profit for a brand by creating a way to reacquire old stock. All of this is done while continuing to generate the same number of new styles that they always have.

There are some good examples of this.

Take ASOS Marketplace, for example, which launched in 2010. While the marketplace supports over 900 small, independent businesses that sell items in vintage shops around the world, ASOS takes a 20% discount on items sold — something he graciously put on hiatus during the pandemic. .

That’s pretty cool of them, but don’t forget that ASOS has acquired several brands in the meantime, including Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge.

Although it continues to use its market as an assertion of sustainability, ASOS has started to pump a lot more New clothes compared to his debut.

After Urban Outfitters and H&M, the latest fast fashion retailer to join the pre-loved clothing program is PrettyLittleThing. This decision has left many scratching their heads, myself included.

Having shopped in retail when I was a student – I’ll never forget when the zipper broke on a top before I even put it on – like many, I can’t prevent me from wondering if their notoriously shoddy garments are capable of withstanding multiple/continuous ownership.

Recently named CEO of PrettyLittleThing, Molly-Mae Hague is working overtime to turn the brand’s reputation for “disposable fashion” into clothes you can wear again and again. It won’t be an easy task for the winning Love Island tycoon, as the vast majority of PLT’s pieces are made with synthetic, non-natural, and non-recyclable fibers.

And considering that 20,000 items are listed on the PLT site at any one time, it seems like any claim to sustainability remains laughable.

The infographic below shows the number of new H&M, ZARA, Boohoo and SHEIN items added to their website this year and released in April. Assuming production levels stayed the same, those numbers likely doubled by September.

Fast-fashion brands are in a “damn if you do, damn if you don’t” situation.

Because their entire business model is based on creating cheap clothes made from even cheaper fabrics, any attempt to go green that doesn’t include shutting down factories for good will be obsolete.

Anna Brismar, who coined the term circular fashion in 2014, defines it as “clothing, footwear or accessories that are designed, sourced, produced and supplied with the intention of being used and distributed responsibly and efficiently. in society for as long as possible in their most valuable form, and will then return safely to the biosphere when no longer used by humans.

I don’t see this suiting a fast fashion brand at the moment, whether or not they incorporate a resale section into their platform.

Do you?

About William G. Patrick

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