Tommy Hilfiger wants to become a “fully circular” brand, and it has enlisted one of the biggest online fashion resellers to move it closer to its goal.
“This partnership is our latest step on our journey to becoming a fully circular brand,” said Esther Verburg, EVP, sustainable business and innovation at Tommy Hilfiger Global and PVH Europe. “We’re excited to launch this program with ThredUp, which helps us create more value out of our existing product and connect with our consumers in a new way. The U.S. market is packed with circular potential, and together with ThredUp, we’re hoping to make a long-lasting difference.”
Would-be sellers can include women’s and children’s items from any brand, although any men’s products must bear the Tommy Hilfiger label. As with other ThredUp schemes, customers can download and print a prepaid shipping label from tommy.thredup.com, fill up a bag or box with the requisite goodies and drop everything off with FedEx or USPS. In exchange for any pieces that sell, or in the case of Tommy Hilfiger men’s products, are eligible to sell, the customer receives a Tommy Hilfiger credit for use online or in-store.
The partnership is part of Tommy Hilfiger’s broader sustainability vision, dubbed Waste Nothing and Welcome All, which includes two dozen circularity and inclusivity targets, including closing the loop on itself by 2030. As a PVH Corp. subsidiary, the brand is also a member of the Fashion Pact and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular and Jeans Redesign initiatives.
This isn’t Tommy Hilfiger’s first attempt at a trade-in program. In Europe, its Tommy for Life initiative, which began in 2020, amassed 220,000 pounds of clothing until one of its partners ceased operations earlier this year. The brand wrote on its U.K. website that it hopes to be able to “resume our journey again…very soon” and that it’s “taking this time to reflect and find more ways to give our pre-loved and damaged pieces a second life.”
Besides resale, Tommy Hilfiger has also dipped into rental with Britain’s Rotaro. Announced Monday, the first drop includes brightly colored festival-ready tops, bike shorts and bowling shirts, sold-out items from its fall 2021 collection with designer Romeo Hunte and pieces from the Tommy Jeans archives.
“Tommy Hilfiger is an iconic and timeless brand. The brand’s products are made to withstand the test of time both with classic designs and durable quality, making resale a natural fit for the company,” ThredUp CEO James Reinhart said. “Tommy Hilfiger has made incredible strides in sustainability through their Waste Nothing and Welcome All initiatives, and we’re honored to power their new resale program as they continue to make an impact.”
At the Sourcing at Magic trade show in Las Vegas this week, ThredUp senior director of client success Tanya Brinich said that RaaS—“basically, a white label platform for brands that they can plug into and offer a resale experience for their customers”—is filling a deep need in the resale market, which is expected to grow 127 percent to surpass $82 billion by 2026 in the United States alone.
“We hear from our partners all the time that [customers] want more transparency, more impact…than a sustainability report published each year,” she said. Leveraging RaaS allows brands to receive “real-time information” about how their items are being reabsorbed into the circular economy, creating a valuable data set that can stave off the nebulous sustainability claims, a.k.a. greenwashing, that regulators are increasingly leery about.
ThredUp, which powers the take-back programs of Farfetch, Gap, Michael Stars, Reformation and Vera Bradley manages 28 RaaS shops, “and that number is just increasing,” Brinich said. It hopes to add another 12 by December.
Consumers in the United States, ThredUp president Anthony Marino previously told Sourcing Journal, are embracing secondhand “in droves.” Of the consumers GlobalData polled in 2021, 53 percent said they’ve snapped up secondhand garments during the year, an uptick of 22 points from 2020. They’re also becoming sellers, with 57 percent of those surveyed profiting from their closet contents in 2021.
“The U.S., in many respects, is a market where many of the earliest players got started,” Marino said. “And online thrift, which is focused on these more curated assortments of products that are really easy to shop, really helps fuel consumption of thrift because you [don’t] have all the friction of having to sort through the racks in the physical [world]. And so you can shop your [used] products in the same way you shop new products with search and browse [capabilities] and all those other conveniences.”
Now ThredUp wants to bring the gospel of thrift to America’s halls of power. In February, the company hired Seth Levey, its first head of public policy and sustainability, to lead government affairs and policy initiatives that “drive impact” by encouraging the widespread adoption of circular fashion business models with an emphasis on reuse. The consignment firm is also a founding member of the newly formed American Circular Textiles policy group, or ACT, which seeks to advance textile-waste legislation in the United States. Also on board are The RealReal, Rent the Runway, Trove and SuperCircle.
“If fashion continues to move in this direction, ThredUp not only wants to be part of the change, but [it] also wants to lead the change,” Levey previously told Sourcing Journal. “Establishing this role enables us to more effectively advocate for initiatives that will usher in a more sustainable future for fashion. To make change, you first have to speak.”