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From ThredUp to Rebag to By Rotation, Used Fashion Is Big Business

Resale is getting a lot of attention during Earth Month with established fashion players debuting new features and brands reflecting on recent progress.

Rebag

Rebag on Tuesday teased a new feature targeting consumers interested in popular handbags.

The luxury fashion marketplace is slated to launch its own auction platform on Wednesday, allowing members to bid on more than 2,000 new weekly arrivals. Both popular items and rare designer styles curated by Rebag stylists will be up for bidding twice a week, the company said.

The first cycle will be exclusively available to VIP members. After the first cycle expires, all users can bid on items for a set period of time. When the two auction cycles end, any remaining items will sold through Rebag’s e-commerce site and store.

“Rebag Rewards members, the most engaged portion of our client base, already enjoy a variety of perks including early access to sales, special discounts, and more,” Rebag founding CEO Charles Gorra told Sourcing Journal. Rebag Auction gives the most loyal customers “an additional perk.”

Gorra said auctions will help Rebag drive high engagement and showcase thousands of rare and one-of-a-kind products, including handbags, jewelry, watches and accessories.

Rebag's Auctions will begin next week.
Rebag’s Auctions will begin this week. Courtesy

Rebag won’t charge sellers a fee on the final bidding price. Bidders can use Rebag credit or membership rewards toward their purchases, which can be paid by credit or PayPal, or financed by Affirm. Winning bidders have 48 hours to check out.

“While shoppers already actively engage in favoriting items and setting back-in-stock alerts to keep track of coveted styles, with Auction they will enjoy access to items they have been searching for,” Gorra said. “We expect them to keep a close eye on the bidding status of coveted pieces as the auction comes to a close, competing with other luxury enthusiasts to win the style before time runs out.”

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“It’s likely that some items—especially those that are limited edition, one-of-a-kind, otherwise sold out, or generally difficult to obtain, will garner the most bids,” he added.

Rebag has steadily rolled out new features since it launched in 2014, including the Clair AI authentication system, a VIP rewards program, a liquidation outlet, and the instant offer Clair Trade program.

ThredUp

Meanwhile, ThredUp came out with an index to track the brands and retailers operating dedicated resale pages on its site.

The Recommerce 100 gauges the performance of each brand’s ThredUp storefront. ThredUp’s resale analysts will run a monthly analysis focusing on metrics such as brand adoption of resale programs, estimated resale shop size, annual sales growth and the number of listings in each resale shop.

“The acceleration of resale adoption is a positive signal, but for the industry to make a significant impact will require a more meaningful investment from participating brands and retailers,” according to ThredUp CEO James Reinhart, who believes the Recommerce 100 will shed light on the bottom-line benefits and environmental impact that adopting a resale strategy can provide.

The index’s March metrics showed 41 brand storefronts, accounting for 133,000 listings, including 25 small, privately owned companies, while another 40 just have take-back programs. Eileen Fisher, Tea Collection, Lululemon, REI, Patagonia, Nation LTD, Michael Stars, Kut from the Kloth, Levi’s and Madewell are the top 10 brands with the most listings.

Twenty brands had fewer than 200 resale listings, suggesting that some companies are “barely scratching the surface” with resale, according to ThredUp, whose most recent Resale Report projects resale’s growth will outplace first-market retail 11 times over.

“We estimate that the top brands’ average resale penetration is less than 0.1 percent of those brands’ total revenue,” ThredUp said. The 133,000 listed resale items would drive carbon and energy savings equivalent to 27,000 trees planted and 374 homes powered if they sold, according to environmental impact platform Green Story Inc.

Last year 22 brands launched resale shops, and 11 launched programs within the first three months of 2022. “At the current pace, the number of new resale shops launched in 2022 is expected to exceed the number of all other resale shops launched to-date,” Reinhart added. The Recommerce 100 will be updated in May.

A Bernardo "Eco-Loved" jacket
A Bernardo “EcoLoved” jacket Bernardo

Bernardo

Outerwear brand Bernardo is the latest brand to partner with resale marketplace ThredUp. The womenswear label’s customers can order a Closet Clean Out bag from ThredUp, fill it with pre-owned apparel from any brand, and send it back to the resale giant using a pre-paid shipping label.

Items deemed eligible for resale give users a shopping credit toward future purchases. Consumers can purchase secondhand Bernardo outerwear on the brand’s e-commerce site under an “EcoLoved” tab, or on its store on ThredUp.

Bernardo said the partnership complements its existing sustainability strategy focused on integrating recycled materials. Its Full Circle outerwear collection uses fully recycled shells, lining, labels, packaging and hang tags. All puffer jackets are stuffed with EcoPlume faux down filling made from recycled plastic bottles.

“This program is the perfect extension of our brand,” marketing director Alissa Guzman said, adding that the Bernardo customer “loves sustainable fashion and has really responded to our outerwear collections made with post-consumer recycled plastic.”

M.M.LaFleur

M.M.LaFleur detailed its performance one year after launching peer-to-peer resale alongside its partnership with ThredUp. Second Act offers like-new of good-condition items through a microsite powered by back-end partner Archive Resale.

The integrated platform means consumers will see details from the product catalog such as fabric information, measurements, care instructions and condition. Each product listing shows the brand’s original lifestyle photography as well as seller photos. The site recommends seller pricing for each item, and successful sales are paid out in cash or store credit. M.M.LaFleur said sellers choose vouchers on more than 72 percent of sales.

Second Act showcases like-new or gently-worn M.M.LaFleur pieces for sale.
Second Act showcases like-new or good-condition M.M.LaFleur items for sale. M.M.LaFleur

“We have received an overwhelmingly positive response to Second Act from our existing customers,” M.M.LaFleur said, noting that customers have used the resale channel to purchases pieces they may have missed the first time around. “When they find a hidden gem, it’s a hot topic on our Customer Slack Channel and our stylists will even help customers monitor Second Act in case any pieces they are looking for get listed.”

During the program’s first week in April 2021, Second Act generated 13,000 unique visitors who created 694 accounts and listed 1,088 items. In seven days, 296 items sold, and all sellers opted for store credit. One year later, the platform has attracted 4,154 purchasers and 7,958 total listings. Since last April, 6,521 items have sold.

Sellers have listed an average of 570 items each month, generating about 530 sales. Repeat customers drive 52 percent of orders, while 23 percent of transactions come from consumers who had never purchased a new M.M.LaFleur item. “We’ve also heard from customers that had never been able to afford shopping with us before that they’re now able to enjoy purchasing the M.M. pieces that they’ve always had their eyes on, which is incredibly rewarding,” the company said.

M.M.LaFleur said March represented Second Act’s highest monthly sales since launch, and could stem from a “post-Omicron uptick in in-person obligations, like in-office work and social events.”

By Rotation

Across the pond, London’s By Rotation raised $3 million in seed funding to accelerate growth, compete with British rivals including Hurr and My Wardrobe HQ, and reportedly expand to the U.S.

Founder Eshita Kabra-Davies launched the peer-to-peer wardrobe sharing platform in 2019 to change the way shoppers consume fashion goods. Billing itself as the world’s first “social fashion rental app,” By Rotation gives members access to each other’s premium and luxury wardrobes, allowing them to rent apparel and accessories directly from peers on the mobile software.

Calling By Rotation a “conscious and self-sustaining community,” Kabra-Davies wrote on the company’s website that she aims to allow more people access to designer fashion at a fraction of the retail price. To use the platform, lenders list their goods with photos, a detailed description, and a daily rental fee. They can either ship the items by mail or meet renters for an in-person exchange. While renters are responsible for the cleaning and maintaining the borrowed items, lenders can build dry-cleaning surcharges into their daily rental fees.

Lenders list their goods on the app and field request from interested renters.

Redrice Ventures, which backs sustainable beauty, fashion and lifestyle startups, led the funding. Closed Loop Partners, True., and Cornerstone Partners also contributed, along with angel investors Magnus Rausing, June Angelides MBE, Dinika Mahtani and eyewear brand Persol’s brand director, Riccardo Pozzoli. More than half of these investors are women, and more than half are ethnic minorities, she said, underscoring a desire to build a diverse and inclusive “multifaceted team.”

“While acknowledging and celebrating this milestone, I’m very excited by the commercial validation of our fresh approach to fashion rental,” Kabra-Davies said, acknowledging “the work ahead of us in continuing to develop our community and product in the most innovative methods within the industry.”

“The peer-to-peer rental brand has not grown a user base, rather it is amassing a fanbase, known affectionately as Rotators,”  Redrice Ventures wrote on LinkedIn. “It’s sustainable, as circular as can be; its foundations are user generated content; and it’s a joyful way to circumnavigate the financial pressures of our times.”

Alt-commerce models like rental and resale are growing among eco- and budget-conscious shoppers. Deloitte projected these models will reach $35 billion by 2023, and could command 30 percent of the overall apparel market by 2030.

Resale could be benefiting from the supply chain backlogs keeping products out of consumers’ hands. In January, The RealReal reported receiving upwards of 10,000 items for consignment each day, with rare, sold-out pieces in highest demand.