This is one of the best initiatives I have heard in a really long time and if The RealReal and Stella McCartney can actually make a change with the luxury brands, this could change the resale industry as we know it. My honest thoughts are at the bottom!
The past few weeks have been a particularly solemn reminder of the problems the fashion industry continues to face regarding its impact on the environment. Between the news of H&M sitting on $4.3 billion in unsold clothes and the five-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory disaster, demand for sustainable apparel continues to grow exponentially. The online resale segment in particular is outpacing all other categories—including fast fashion—signaling in a shift in the ways consumers are approaching their consumption of clothes.
Luxury brands, however, have typically been slower to embrace the resale market, despite many claiming to be sustainably-minded and eco-friendly. The two are not mutually exclusive, of course, as online luxury reseller The RealReal CEO Julie Wainwright and designer Stella McCartney will attest.
Both parties have joined forces in the hopes of implementing industry-wide change regarding disposable consumption patterns with a new initiative entitled “The Future of Fashion is Circular.” The campaign (fittingly timed around Earth Day), is being rolled out in radio, TV, and across both companies’ social platforms to shed light on a “Make Well, Buy Well, Resell” model. The partnership itself is an unprecedented call-to-action in bringing awareness to the circular economy and get people to start thinking differently about fashion. Essentially, this marks the first time a luxury brand is actively pushing for items to be consigned. By purchasing a quality, sustainable product that retains value and then reselling it to a buyer or consignment store like The RealReal once one is done with it, its lifespan increases significantly, avoids landfills and is placed in the hands of another consumer.
“At Stella McCartney, we have been working for years to ensure that our supply chains represent some of the most traceable and sustainable in fashion while also continuing to ensure that our products, which are made to last, have long lives and never end up as waste,” the designer said in a statement. “This campaign is about raising the awareness on a circular approach to fashion. We alongside The RealReal are making the commitment now and we can only hope that others will follow.”
Indeed, the first-of-its-kind alliance even includes an incentive for shoppers: They will receive $100 to shop at Stella McCartney stores if they consign any Stella McCartney item to The RealReal.
Wainwright tells me the idea first came about during talks with Kering, the French conglomerate who recently sold their 50% stake in Stella McCartney back to McCartney herself. “I started talking to Kering about this a long time ago because they have sustainability in their platform and they’re really trying to understand the role of resale and how that fits into their fashion cycle,” says Wainright. When she then spoke with Stella, the two immediately shared an understanding and knew they had to work together.
“Now look, new is not going to go away. We don’t want it to go away. But I think it’s just starting to think ‘Do I need to buy everything new or can I buy some things in the secondary market, not just for fashion but for your home, jewelry… You get a really good value when you buy secondary. If you just leave a portion of your purchasing for it you’re going to help the planet immensely,” she adds.
The initiative also lays the groundwork in the hope that other luxury brands, who have traditionally been hesitant towards consignment, will emulate a similar program to encourage a circular model. “It sounds risky I’m sure because they don’t really fully embrace or understand that a strong secondary market really does support the primary market,” says Wainwright. “I think it’s so scary because they’re not reselling their own goods so they could feel that this will take away from their market share. But here is what we’ve found in a lot of data at the Kering Group in particular but also LVMH and their interest is that once people start buying on our site or consigning, they’re really conscious of what that resell value is and it can inform their purchases in the primary market. We’ve never had anyone slow down their buying of new. They supplement their buying on our site and they tend to buy things that they know they can resell,” she concludes.
Furthermore, The RealReal will also have a charity sale benefitting Thames21, the U.K.’s river/waterway charity, featuring select sustainable pieces from Stella McCartney’s archive.
Originally posted on Forbes.com
My thoughts? In this climate, it is not going to happen. The luxury brands would get behind the Make Well, Buy Well but the Resell? Unless they could control that market, I don’t see why they would push for consumers to purchase their luxury goods in the second hand market. Take Louis Vuitton, their margins are 90%. Do you really think they want people to NOT shop at their boutiques? Nope.
This little push will be interesting to watch and while I do believe smaller design houses will want to clamor onto the marketing of this, the larger luxury brands will not change a thing.