The Rise of Second Hand Apparel

“Every single business person has the responsibility for taking care of the people and planet that make up our global village, all 24,902 circumferential miles of it.” Richard Branson, estimated worth $5.2billion

Fashion, the number two biggest contributor to global pollution, seems to be shifting into a more innovative and conscious mindset. The idea of ‘slow fashion’ has been growing momentum; it encourages taking time to ensure quality production, to give value to the product, and contemplate the connection with the environment.

There are also multiple businesses popping up around the concept of reusing apparel. This is beneficial for two key reasons, firstly it increases the lifetime of clothing, therefore, reducing landfill waste and pollution. Secondly, it promotes an important message to the consumers that clothes should be treasured and can be fixed and worn for a lifetime. This in the long term will hopefully decrease the cheap mass production of clothing and create a circular economy. Below are some key businesses setting the trend in selling used apparel for profit, with the environment still as the focus point.

The Recycling Boutique is based in Melbourne and I can tell you first hand…it’s fucking awesome. The store takes second-hand designer from people that don’t want it, they then sell it for a fair price and 50% of the price goes back to the owner. This means, you actually get decent items and the original owner, store, and customer all win. The two stores aim to reduce the disposable clothing culture, whilst offsetting some pollution/landfill. They also consider the brands they take, the material and how it’s manufactured. I am waiting for the Sydney branch….

The Renewal Workshop in America, I recently heard the co-owner Jeff being interviewed on SustainabilityDefined (what a great podcast)…wow. This company is the first of it’s kind and they are the future – ‘business has multiple responsibilities for generating positive, lasting value’. They have a large factory in the US which restores apparel from clothing brand partners that would otherwise go to landfill. They fix clothing or recycle materials to repurpose into something else, then sell online at a discounted cost.

ASOS Marketplace. Obviously, ASOS is a huge online retailer, sadly with questionable status in sustainability. It is, however, a promising sign of the tide turning in fashion trends, as ASOS Marketplace is a platform for men & women that sells second-hand clothing from boutiques. If people buy second hand and retro from big brands, it means hopefully less landfill. The brand has also started selling eco-brands and recently the Ethical Trade & Sourcing Manager announced, “finding ways to maintain a stable, ethical supply base will be fundamental to us”.

There are multiple brands and companies that are also doing similar great things so the list is never-ending. All you need to know is that it’s happening and you can be part of the movement by your choices. You can look into your local op shops and brands that use second-hand clothes and even some cafes/stores that help fix your clothing. My aim for the next month is to take up sewing classes, so I can fix my own clothing and increase the lifetime of my apparel.

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