While tech and economy experts have been arguing for years about whether or not it's fair to claim that "data is the new oil," the point remains that it's hard to overstate data's ever-increasing value. It's a resource that fashion resale site Thredup has in spades, and it's led the retailer to branch away from its bread-and-butter business of secondhand sales to launch a line of brand-new clothing.
"We will sell 10 million items this year, and we have hundreds of millions of data points about what sizes, categories and styles resell again and again," Thredup's Vice President of Communications and Partnerships Karen Clark told Fashionista over the phone. "So we used that data to create a line of clothing that we know will thrive in a resale market."
Called Remade, the new line launched on Tuesday with five styles in sizes XS-3X — a wrap dress, a T-shirt, a cardigan, a blouse and a button-up — that range in price from $20-$50. Each piece is created based on Thredup's statistics about what kinds of pieces consistently sell out on its secondhand platform with the design oversight of the company's advisor and board member Paula Sutter, formerly the president of Diane Von Furstenberg.
The goal, explained Clark, is to create pieces for the person who shops with resale value in mind. While a basic tee may not allow customers to recoup the costs of purchase the way a more traditional "investment piece" like a Chanel bag would, Thredup is so sure of its new line's resale value that it offers a buyback promise, guaranteeing that it will purchase secondhand Remade pieces from customers for 40 percent of their original value.
"As resale has become more and more popular, consumers are thinking about their closets as more fluid," Clark said. "As a consumer buys something, it's not an item that they're going to keep forever. It's sort of an access versus ownership mindset."
Clark added that the Remade line will "help consumers participate in the broader circular economy" and keep clothing out of landfills by ensuring it will have a life in the secondhand market. But when pressed about sustainability and production ethics regarding how the line is made before it ever gets resold, she said that there's "room for improvement" and alluded to a future time when the brand would "love" to use recycled materials after the concept is proven, which the brand sees as a bigger priority.
Later, she sent a follow-up email adding that "all factories have passed social responsibility and compliance testing and participate in Better Works and the Her Project, benefitting women's health and education. All mills are water safety and efficiency compliant." She declined to disclose the names of the factories.
Will that be enough for Thredup customers who have historically applauded the retailer for the way it enables secondhand shopping and the inherent ethics baked into thrifting? Maybe not. But for customers interested in finding affordable staples they can make a little money on at the end of their lifecycle, the Remade line may fill a lucrative niche.