In the wake of the ongoing COP 26 conference, it’s getting harder and harder to deny – sustainability will be a major force of the future of retail and fashion. The past couple of years has catalysed the death of the high street, with environmental concerns already pushing a move away from fast fashion before the pandemic and lockdown truly exemplifying the need for all fashion retailers to move online and adapt quickly.
Resale apps such as Depop blew up over lockdown, with sellers using their newfound time to have massive clearouts and make some cash, and buyers turning to the app wanting to satisfy their impulse buying urges. As has been reported, Millennials and Gen-Z are driving this sustainable fashion movement, and resale is projected to be 1.5 times bigger than fast fashion by 2028. It also suggests that people are happy to pay more for sustainable fashion: 1/3 of Gen-Z customers consider the environmental impacts before purchasing.
The answer to these forces for change for many fashion brands, in large part, lies in building sustainability into the pillars of the brand. And it’s already happening – Net-a-Porter have just partnered with ReFlaunt to address demand for circular fashion. Here, customers will be able to send their secondhand items to Net-a-Porter to get it resold without the hassle of posting their own listings on other preloved platforms.
In this case, it seemingly couldn’t be easier: the company will collect items from your home, then handle “the rest”, which includes everything from photographing the product, to listing and pricing. Net-a-Porter says the new service is as seamless and convenient for customers as possible, thanks to Reflaunt’s tech that can digitally authenticate products and make pricing recommendations.
Another platform doing the rounds (literally) is Ahluwalia’s ‘Circulate’: designer Priya Ahluwalia has enlisted AI and Microsoft to create a new digital experience that pushes the boundaries of sustainability in fashion. Circulate “invites anyone to be a part of the designer’s up and coming collection”. The process is simple: users donate a used piece of clothing to the app; AI is then used to analyse and sort the garment into its database, while the Ahluwalia team send a shipping label to the user so that the garment can be mailed to the warehouse, in return, receiving points that can be redeemed on the site.
It doesn’t stop there; Diesel has also just announced its venture into circular fashion. The denim maverick brand is launching a “carefully curated edit” of second-hand denim that has been restored and renewed. The ‘Second Hand’ project aims to offer a “creative and inspiring way to take steps towards circularity,” explains Diesel, by offering consumers the chance to keep Diesel products in active use for years to come.
Each item that has been reconditioned for the ‘Second Hand’ collection will display a red logo stamped across the back of the garment. This, Diesel adds, will allow consumers to celebrate buying sustainably as well as ensuring the pieces look “as good as new” – giving the sustainable stamp of approval. The resale initiative will also help reduce the carbon and water footprint of a pair of denim jeans, which currently require over 4000 litres of water to produce one pair.
Diesel has even built sustainable concerns into the reworked denim after it has been resold- with all garments sprayed with a combined treatment featuring anti-microbial and odour-resistant properties which allows for reduced frequency of washing, saving more water and energy.
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With a recent report estimating that the resale market will reach US$77 billion within the next five years, these platforms and commitments to circular fashion will no doubt be a drop in the ocean of what’s to come in the future of fashion – and there’s no harm in trying to make that ocean clean.