Offering branded resale has become table stakes for fashion brands. As such, it’s never been easier for customers to buy secondhand clothes from brands across the price spectrum. But at Shoptalk 2023, brands and resale companies alike wrestled with the idea of how to improve the selling process for resale, an area that’s not nearly as seamless.
“There’s been comparatively little innovation on the selling experience, in general, compared to buying resale,” said Adam Siegel, co-founder and CEO of Recurate, a company that has launched branded resale programs for more than 50 brands. “In third-party resale, selling on consignment can be a long process. And selling peer-to-peer can be a slog to fill out all the information on a product, so the quality of the data is poor.”
In contrast, Siegel said, the new generation of branded resale programs is trying to make the selling process quicker. Brands have the advantage of knowing who bought what and owning more firsthand data on the products sold. Siegel used the example of Zara, one of Recurate’s clients, which lets customers simply scan the barcode of the product they want to sell. Doing so automatically tells the brand not only what the product is, but also when it was originally sold.
Scott Friend, partner at Bain Capital Ventures, said the ability for brands to have better insight into the movement of products will continue to be a major factor in resale’s growth.
“There’s way more recommerce than there was five years ago,” Friend said. “There’s terrific tailwind behind it. Some of that is consumer taste and preference, but it’s also tech. The providence of items is easier than ever to follow, in order to track the stuff. The business model is proven out, and it’s not just an ESG thing. It’s driving full-price sales, as well.”
Another use of that data is to help brands pull in the type of product that they know there’s demand for. A perennial challenge for resale is the inability to control exactly what products are available, since inventory is dependent on what items consumers bring in to sell.
Emily Gittins, co-founder and CEO of another branded resale company, Archive, said many brand partners use their data on who bought what to bring specific products into the resale ecosystem. For example, Archive launched a resale program for Ulla Johnson last week, at the same time enabling a special feature for the brand called Heart’s Desire. Ulla Johnson customers can request specific products that are no longer sold new. The brand will then email customers who bought the item to ask if they’d like to sell it, letting them know there’s immediate demand.
“One of the main advantages brands have in resale is knowing what’s been bought in the past,” Gittins said. “[Optimizing] the merchandising of a brand’s resale is one of the main things we’re working on right, now because it’s so different than merchandising new products. [Brands] don’t know exactly what product they’ll have, unless they’ve found ways to curate the selection.”
In the last year, it’s felt like every brand has either launched a resale program or revealed plans to establish one — Christian Siriano told Glossy earlier this month that he’s been thinking about how to tackle the opportunity for his own brand.
A September estimate put the global apparel resale market at more than $180 billion. But despite the growth, there were a few executives at Shoptalk who told Glossy they don’t see any resale in their company’s future.
“Never say never, but resale is very saturated right now,” said Imran Khan, CEO of Verishop. “There are so many players, I don’t know if the world needs another right now. The Gen-Z audience who wants this are very well-served at the moment, so they don’t need us to get into resale right now.”