Second-hand shopping is certainly not a new phenomenon for businesses and consumers alike. In retaliation to fast fashion and ‘toxic’ retail, recommerce is being recognised as a sustainable new solution to old problems and the idea behind what qualifies as ‘waste’ is starting to change.
With the rise of thrifting, upcycling and luxury recommerce, it’s suggested that apparel resale alone will be a $64 billion market by 2024. But how exactly did we enter the recommerce economy and what does it mean for the way we view excess stock?
Consumers have become retailers
Resale sites were born in the mid 90s as eBay and Amazon emerged and gradually developed into multi-channel ecommerce platforms. While the sites began to grow, they presented an opportunity for brands to gain wider reach through the new consumption models. The peer-to-peer engagement offered by these sites allowed for consumers to resell clothing and other items to each other easily, with little emphasis placed on sustainability and more on pragmatism.
Now, the proliferation of recommerce in the fashion market has caused the boom of C2C resale platforms, such as Depop, Vinted and Etsy. These sites create communities based on the spirit of entrepreneurship and ultimately license consumers to become ‘brands’ in themselves. 57% of Gen Z and 50% of Millennials have said they consider resale value before purchasing luxury items. Young people, particularly Generation Z and Millennials, are buying with the intention to recommerce rather than for permanent ownership, extending product life cycles in the process.
Consumers have proven that there’s a thriving marketplace for the recommerce model. Unlike brands, in consumer’s wardrobes, old clothes are not ‘waste’ to be ashamed of but rather a liberating, sustainable and frugal way of handling excess; the very word ‘waste’ is not part of their vocabulary. It’s this kind of new vernacular for excess that has grabbed the attention of brands.
Brands have always been late adopters to changing consumer mindsets and trends. Only recently has the rise of the consumer-led luxury market inspired fashion brands to explore recommerce as a more sustainable and lucrative solution to excess inventory via both in-house resale initiatives and strategic partnerships. The growing relationship between B2C marketplaces and fashion brands further developed the reputation of preloved luxury and brands are beginning to strengthen trust with their consumers as they start their resale journey.
This adoption of recommerce signifies the dawn of the recommerce economy. “The ‘permafrost’ is starting to melt as brands are slowly beginning to understand that there’s an opportunity in recommerce – not a cost”, says Parker Lane Group CEO and founder of RLVD.com, Raffy Kassardjian. As an average consumer throws away 31.75 kilograms of clothing per year, this opportunity can also be applied to the ‘national wardrobe’.
Within these shifting frameworks of excess and ownership, Parker Lane Group is launching RLVD.com (also pronounced ‘Reloved’), a unique 1st party and 3rd party D2C/B2C fashion marketplace that will include rental and purchasing options for preloved pieces. RLVD.com will begin with a B2C model, with plans to expand to C2C soon after, allowing both brands and consumers to resell their products on the site.
“Conscious consumerism and fast-moving trends have usurped the traditional model of ownership,” explains Lisa Panvino, Head of Strategy at the Resale as a Service (RaaS) platform. “New technologies allow people to recognise the ephemeral nature of fashion – this paradigm shift has reclassed consumers into potential ‘entrepreneurs’,” she added.
PLG is redefining out of touch paradigms
Even as consumer mindsets are changing, brands are justifying their own outputs in a way that crosses the boundaries of acceptable levels of production. Recommerce can help the industry apply a philosophy of degrowth to their levels of clothing production and sustain the economy in a way that can benefit society and the planet.
Parker Lane Group recognises that, while fashion is a fundamental part of our lives, the balance between fashion and carbon footprint needs to be redressed so that our level of production is in harmony with nature.
The company seeks to breathe fresh air into the space and understands that real change is coming. It embraces the paradigm shift around ownership and seeks to build the infrastructure of the recommerce economy by redefining waste and excess stock amongst consumers and retailers.
By capturing this shift, RLVD.com will help expound brand and consumer ‘excess inventory’ as clothing that has intrinsic value. Ultimately, part of their mission is to help brands realise that it is no longer acceptable to label excess inventory as ‘waste’.
“The dilemma is that brands' understanding of excess stock solutions are completely heterodoxical to changing consumer habits and the value narrative” commented Kassardjian. “They’re finding solutions in out of touch representations and ignoring the evolution that’s coming.”
Brands must manage excess without fantasising about worst case scenarios about things such as brand erosion because this line of thinking remains too disconnected from consumer thinking. Otherwise, they will push themselves into a corner where they prioritise the intrinsic value of the brand which, in reality, doesn’t exist without the consumer.
Kassardjian explains that Parker Lane Group “has become a metonym for recommerce and excellence. RLVD.com will iterate this by becoming a unique D2C and C2C marketplace.” By exploring a wider service, the marketplace will be an emblem for the proposition that the industry must change how it thinks about excess inventory. It will allow brands and consumers to come together and provide a “truly community led service, challenging redundant edifices from the past”.
“We’re aware that fashion is polluting but we’re fighting to make it as minimal as possible; people will still shop for clothing but it’s how they shop and what they shop that makes the difference,” elaborates Parker Lane Group COO, Aleksandra Banasik. “We want to be part of the solution as opposed to part of the problem.”
Rather than adding to the problem by producing more product, RLVD.com wants to be creative in how they approach the excess stock dilemma, whether individual or corporate, by exploring recommerce values and extending the life cycle of products. While ensuring carbon neutral packaging, shipping and a subscription model, RLVD will also work more intimately to foster conversation about sustainability in their online community through social media, industry events and the site’s journal.
PLG is building the infrastructure of the Recommerce Economy
Understanding the complexities in managing the recommerce process and supply chain requires a great deal of expertise; most have neither the technology nor the expertise to address it, and consequently risk getting left behind.
While many brands used to refuse to contemplate other realities, Parker Lane Group has been fine tuning a world class solution for the last ten years. RLVD.com’s technology, supply chain and experience power every touchpoint for this burgeoning ecosystem of brands, consumers and resellers working together. The marketplace makes it incredibly easy to manage inventory.
Parker Lane Group’s end-to-end supply chain seamlessly merges recommerce, rental and recycling services to bring transparency, value, efficiency, sustainability, scale and solutions. After brands and individuals sign up and integrate their inventory using the tools provided, RLVD.com becomes responsible for the quality control, marketing, logistics and fulfilment. The marketplace will use new technologies for product authentication in the luxury resale market, such as NFT and blockchain, to set an industry standard and provide high quality authentication for a counterfeit-proof experience.
Parker Lane Group recognises that the “landscape of ownership has changed from artefact to experience, with a view of circularity”, as Kassardjian elaborates. This is why RLVD.com’s mission is to provide a balanced approach to consumption for brands, consumers and the environment in the lens of a degrowth recommerce economy.
RLVD.com is a London-based luxury fashion marketplace which offers off-price reloved and preloved items for consumers to rent or purchase. Founded by Parker Lane Group, it is part of the recommerce company’s full stack Resale as a Service (RaaS) solution and also has operations in Poland. RLVD.com is set to launch in May 2022. It is currently ramping up internal resources and looking for talent.