After raising millions and millions of dollars, resale sites like The RealReal, Thredup, Poshmark and more aren't just resting on their laurels. They're shifting, expanding, collaborating, getting into brick-and-mortar, competing with each other and keeping themselves in the press every step of the way.
The latest news comes from massive online consignment site Thredup, which on Tuesday launched Upcycle, a new platform that aims to answer the question: How can eco-conscious brands engage with, and even capitalize on, the reselling of their wares? The program kicks off with none other than sustainability-minded favorite Reformation, which in April announced a commitment to divert 75,000 pieces of clothing from landfills this year by supporting the re-use and resale of secondhand clothing to a greater degree than it ever had.
A rep for Thredup describes Upcycle as "a sustainable loyalty program for retailers." Basically, you print a Reformation X Thredup Upcycle Kit, send your used clothes and accessories — of any brand — to Thredup, and for all items that meet its quality standards, you earn shopping credit to Reformation. The kits will also be included in all Reformation orders through May 2019, and Reformation will announce the partnership in a newsletter this week. Consumers are thus incentivized to both recycle, and to refill their closets with Reformation, a brand already dedicated to minimizing its environmental footprint.
"At Thredup we believe in extending the life of clothes and the positive impact reuse can have on our environment," said James Reinhart, CEO and Founder of Thredup, in a statement. "So many brands share our vision, but they don't know where to start. Thredup Upcycle will help retailers capture the value sitting in their customers' closets, while advancing a more circular economy. It's a win for business, for our wallets and for the planet."
Of course, clothing recyclers can also just earn cash for their clothes, as they've always been able to do through Thredup; the program just "motivates" them to use their earnings on ethical brands like Reformation. An official co-sign from such brands could also bring more business to Thredup. The consignment site wouldn't disclose which other retailers it will be onboarding on to this platform, but said it will be launching the next one around Black Friday and plans to launch roughly 10 more in 2019. Also in 2019, there are plans to take Upcycle a step further and allow shoppers to sell used goods directly through these third-party retailers' websites and in their stores.
This isn't Reformation's only initiative in the secondhand space: It also has partnerships with Depop to re-sell used Ref pieces and Vestiaire Collective to sell upscale vintage, in addition to opening its own dedicated vintage store in LA with another to follow in New York.
This also isn't the first instance of a re-commerce site partnering with an ethical brand. Exactly one year ago, The RealReal, which focuses on the luxury market, announced it had signed on Stella McCartney as its first official brand partner, marking the first time a luxury designer had really, in an official way, encouraged the reselling of their own products.
Meanwhile, brands like Eileen Fisher and even Madewell have their own recycling programs. In addition to being great for the environment and an important move towards circularity, these programs might even earn brands favor among millennial and Gen-Z consumers who are increasingly turning to resale sites and eco-conscious brands to shop. Whether or not they're done in partnership with Thredup, we think you'll be seeing many more of these types of initiatives going forward.