A Fight Against Overconsumption: An upmarket push we hope many will follow

By Camila Becerra

By By Camila Becerra for Fashion Declares.

Vestiaire Collective, an upmarket resale platform, has extended it’s list of Fast Fashion brands banned from the platform, including Gap, H&M, Zara. This decision comes as part of the company’s commitment to combat wasteful overconsumption. In order for Vestiaire Collective to ban these brands they have worked with 9 experts to develop their own definition of fast fashion. The key elements of this definition include very low prices, frequent collection updates, a broad product range, intensive and frequent promotional periods, and a swift production cycle. So, all the brands that ticked these boxes were banned from the platform. It is important to highlight that this is a job that policymakers should already be doing, so it will be easier to implement taxes on brands based on their impact on the planet (social, environmental and biodiversity loss).

Certainly, many disagree with this decision, pointing out that fast fashion waste will end up in landfill or will be burned, increasing even more the rates of waste and pollution. However, if those brands are not aligned to what Vestiaire Collective promotes, why would they sell the products on their platform? We can’t blame just one company when we all are contributing to the waste and pollution on our planet, definitely some more than others, like the richest 1%. According to the latest article from The Guardian. (Richest 1% account for more carbon emissions than poorest 66 report sayswritten by Jonathan Watts)

In my opinion, Vestiaire Collective’s move represents a significant step towards an upmarket push. Fast Fashion brands must make substantial systematic changes to the way they operate if they wish to be part of the second-hand business.

Let’s not forget these numbers: (reported by Thredup)

  • By 2027, the second hang global market is projected to nearly double by 2027 and to reach $350 billion.
  • The global second-hand apparel market is expected to grow 3X faster on average than the global apparel market overall.

Other resale platforms are already adopting similar actions, by reducing or eliminating commissions on fast fashion products. If a pair of jeans is priced $15 dollars (I’m being generous), after the seller commission, the delivery cost absorbed by the platform, are those products even profitable? Most likely not. Consequently, the second-hand market is shifting towards higher-value pieces, therefore higher profits.

Vestiaire Collective’s decision serves as a great example of companies driving change within the industry. By making bold decisions and taking risks, but especially staying true to the vision and mission stated on their websites. “The purpose is not to say how much money we can take out of it; the purpose is to say, if we don’t believe in this model and if we continue to sell it, we are not true to our values.” – Chief Impact Officer Dounia Wone. 

Furthermore, such actions influence and educate customers to buy better and be more conscious with their purchases and even to start peer-to-peer clothing swaps. Noihsaf Bazaar, a resale with intention platform, founded by Kate Lindello, is fostering a love for independent designers, makers and small shops, and encouraging community-based clothing swaps.

As a final note, Better Friday, the sustainable cousin of Black Friday needs to be reframed. I agree that it may be challenging for sustainable and non-sustainable brands or retailers to abstain from offering discounted products (at least for the foreseeable future), but language plays a crucial role. Good fashion, good business models and practices can’t be linked in any form or shape to a day of consumerism, which is one of the biggest problems in the industry together with overconsumption.

Let’s remember that Black Friday started in the USA, the epitome of capitalist society. Even more ironic, Black Friday happens the day after Thanksgiving, where gratitude for the food on their plates, their healthy families and so on is expressed and shared with their loved ones. The next day, many are buying products often produced by people working in unhealthy and unsafe conditions, facing exploitation and trying to make enough money (in some cases, less than $1 per day) to feed their children. Regrettably and most probably, a high percentage of those purchases won’t even be used or worn and ultimately find their way to places like Kantamanto market in Accra, Ghana (where 15 million garments arrive every week), or the Atacama Desert in Chile.

Vestiaire Collective

And let’s remember these numbers:

  • 92 million tons of textile waste is discarded every year. That’s enough to fill the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building or Buckingham Palace every day. (Source: Vestiaire Collective)
  • Buying and wearing second-hand clothing instead of new reduces carbon emissions by 25% on average. (Source: Thredup)
  • 3 out 5 fast fashion items end up in landfills. (Source: Vestiaire Collective)

To be clear, while the second-hand business alone won’t fix the many problems that the fashion industry needs to tackle, it’s one path of many towards a more sustainable future. Let’s collaborate to make greater impacts and faster changes. Let’s rebuild the industry that many of us love and want to feel proud of.