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Hot Topic Hits ‘Replay’ on Resale

Hot Topic is nothing if not topical.

On Tuesday, the pop culture mecca announced the launch of Hot Topic Replay, a resale program that employs ThredUp’s “360” resale-as-a-service platform. This means customers will be able to shop for gently used “Stranger Things” tees and “Doctor Who” dresses directly from the Hot Topic website as well as through hottopic.thredup.com.

They’ll also be able to rid their closets of pieces they no longer want—maybe those “Harry Potter” PJs no longer spark joy? Or the goth phase fizzles out? To earn shopping credit for future Hot Topic purchases, all they have to do is generate a prepaid shipping label on the Replay site-let, fill any shippable box or bag with women’s and kid’s items from any brand, and sent it off to ThredUp for free.

“Hot Topic is a brand that has maintained cultural relevance across decades,” said James Reinhart, CEO of ThredUp, which recently released its inaugural impact report. “Their finger is on the pulse when it comes to younger shoppers who value self-expression and individuality or are seeking a dose of nostalgia. We’re thrilled to enable Hot Topic Replay and believe that entering resale will help Hot Topic build brand affinity among customers who are on the hunt for that unique band tee or collectible item, while also serving as a new growth channel for the business.”

Sustainability is an issue dear to the hearts of Hot Topic’s customers and employees, said Andrea Lewis, the mall staple’s vice president, and the resale market will help extend the lives of the company’s wares. It helps that ThredUp has more than a decade of experience powering secondhand at scale, which made implementation a cinch.

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“ThredUp has built a best-in-class resale platform which will allow for a very easy customer experience to request a clean-out kit and send in their apparel,” Lewis said. “Whatever ThredUp feels isn’t resalable, they can responsibly recycle if the customer chooses.”

Also on Tuesday, the consignment e-tailer pulled the curtains back on the latest monthly edition of the Recommerce 100, which it describes as a “first-of-its-kind and independent review” of branded resale programs. The first round debuted in March with 41 brands. Now, the list surpasses 100, making it a “true index” of the top 100 brands and retailers in re-commerce, ThredUp said. Of the 107 branded resale programs, including brands that aren’t affiliated with ThredUp, that the company tallied at the end of September, 73 launched in the past year alone. This is “explosive growth” from the 31 brands that had resale programs as of the end of last year, it said. If this trajectory continues, more than 140 branded resale stores could be trafficking in pre-loved products by December.

In terms of numbers, the top 10 brands based on resale listings are Athleta, Tea Collection, Lululemon, Tommy Hilfiger, Madewell, Eileen Fisher, Patagonia, REI Co-op, Pacsun and Kut from the Kloth.

Another observation is that “managed resale” and “peer-to-peer” platforms are both “notably” growing, ThredUp said. The managed model, which accounts for 14 of the top 14 resale shops and 78 percent of listings, “dominates” when it comes to scale. Meanwhile, peer-to-peer, which makes up 78 of the total 107 resale shops, is “winning” in hard numbers. Their shops are still very small, however: 56 of the 107 brands on the Recommerce 100 have fewer than 100 resale listings.

ThredUp leads in the number of managed resale shops (11) versus Trove (eight) and Archive (three). But brands are “barely scratching” the surface of re-commerce’s potential impact, it said. The top brands’ resale penetration averages at less than 0.1 percent. To put it in context, if all 142,000 resale shop listings in the Recommerce 100 sold, their impact would translate to 29,000 trees planted, 400 homes powered annually and an estimated $6.1 million in total revenue.

Still, both resale—and ThredUp itself—are in flux. In August, the e-tailer cut 15 percent of its corporate staff, citing deteriorating consumer health. Seth Levey, its first head of public policy and sustainability, was let go in September. Writing in its impact report, Reinhart expressed confidence that the “critical fashion revolution” that is resale will continue. The U.S. resale market is expected to grow 16 times faster than the broader apparel market by 2026, he noted.

“Thredup has grown to become one of the largest online thrift stores in the world, inspiring a new generation of consumers to think secondhand first,” he said. “ Looking ahead, we will continue to drive mainstream adoption of circularity principles in fashion through our own global expansion and filling critical supply chain and provider gaps in resale.”