Retailers of all types and sizes are seeking ways to prepare for a secondhand and vintage apparel boom—even U.K. supermarket chain Asda. The retailer announced a new partnership between its clothing brand George at Asda and vintage fashion wholesaler Preloved Vintage Wholesale (PVW) that will introduce secondhand fashion in 50 of its stores.
The concept gives a new lease of life to vintage, retro and secondhand branded garments sourced by PVW. It will be offered at locations in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Brighton.
“We know that sustainable fashion is something that’s really important to our customers and colleagues,” said Mel Wilson, George at Asda’s global professional lead—sustainable sourcing and quality. “They’re passionate about us encouraging everyone in the U.K. to think about the issues of waste and how we can make fashion and textiles more circular, so that we really can reduce the number of garments that go into landfill.”
While PVW sells pre-owned fashion by weight online and at its Sheffield City store, the garments at Asda will be individually priced. As a business, PVW reports that it has saved over 800 tonnes of clothing from going to landfill. The savings are “set to increase dramatically” with its partnership with Asda, said Steve Lynam, PVW managing director.
“In a world where we are becoming more environmentally conscious this partnership will help bring sustainable fashion to the mainstream which is something as a business we strive for in everything we do,” he said. “The more people that buy into the circular economy and shop vintage and retro, the bigger impact we will have on climate change.”
Asda tested the secondhand range at its first sustainability store in Leeds. Opened in October 2020, the concept store provides recycling facilities, sells sustainable George collections and sells loose and unwrapped household products and groceries to encourage consumers to use refill reusable containers. Asda plans to open more sustainability stores in 2021.
The efforts are part of the company’s “George for Good” commitment to combat textile waste and promote sustainable sourcing. Other new circularity initiatives include its take-back scheme, which accepts customers’ unwanted garments in exchange for a 10 percent discount voucher.
As circularity becomes increasingly prevalent, the secondhand market has similarly been thriving in recent years.
A 2020 GlobalData study conducted in partnership with resale platform ThredUp projected a 414 percent growth in the resale market from 2019 to 2024—and ThredUp’s recent $168 million IPO helps confirm the lofty prediction. Andy Ruben, CEO of Trove, a technology provider that helps brands and retailers like Nordstrom build out their own resale platforms, recently advised retailers to get in on the secondhand wave or risk becoming obsolete.
“Brands aren’t going to let [resale] live outside the brand, they’re going to want to own it,” Ruben said. “That’s the shift that’s coming. Any brand that is worthwhile will want to own this market because this is a significant shift with how people shop.”
Berlin-based e-commerce giant Zalando is following suit and expanding upon its pre-owned shopping and selling initiative. In April, it announced that it would open up its resale platform to seven new markets. Brands such as Levi’s and Guess have also joined the resale wave, allowing customers to purchase secondhand items through their channels.