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Rethinking Resale: Secondhand Retailers Are Actively Seeking Branded Partners

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In an industry that’s currently being pinched by pricing and held back by headwinds, a growing appetite is emerging among consumers and investors for something new and different that can serve as an antidote to the present gloom.

Oddly, that “new thing” may actually turn out to be something not new at all, as used apparel is currently experiencing a surge in deal-making this month — and this year.

Whether you call it resale, reCommerce, circular economy, secondhand or some other euphemism, there’s one thing everyone can agree on in this category, and that is that it’s hot right now.

“Merrell is launching a multinational product takeback and resale program called ‘Merrell ReTread’, which will save 300,000 pairs of footwear from landfills,” the hiking shoemaker said in a press release and social media campaign last week, in which it called the first-of-its-kind “takeback” initiative a major step towards enabling a more circular economy.

And Merrell is not alone, as retailers ranging from Target to Pacsun have both made recent moves to boost secondhand sales of their branded apparel that will not only check-off the sustainability box but will also sell at a fraction of the price of new merchandise. It’s a selling point whose time has come as price increases combined with reduced buying power have combined to turn consumers into belt-tightening, deal-seeking machines.

In both cases, Target and Pacsun are embracing resale via a white label, Retail as a Service offering from resale industry pure play thredUP.

In announcing the launch of “Pre-Loved Pac,” the California-based retailer said its “360-resale program” will allow customers to clean out their closets for credit and then shop pre-loved clothing directly through its own website.

“We are committed to digital innovation and delivering services that our customers will love and use,” Mimi Ruiz, vice president of eCommerce at Pacsun, said in the company’s April 6 statement. “Our community already embraced sustainable fashion, and we wanted to incorporate that into our brand experience,” she added.

Old is the New New

Everywhere you turn lately, it seems there’s another announcement, using a different description, marking the debut of a new way to trade in and purchase gently used apparel and shoes.

While publicly-traded players like thredUP, Poshmark, The RealReal and others have expanded the category to more people and products, brands are also joining the movement at a record clip, bringing everything from Oscar de la Renta gowns to Allbirds sneakers to GoreTex ski wear to the burgeoning market for like-new goods in the past three months alone.

In addition, specialty players such as StockX as also looking to cash-in on the old-is-new trend via plans to go public in a deal that could value the sneaker reseller at up to $4 billion.

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