Why Big Brands Are Betting on Resale

Why Big Brands Are Betting on Resale

From Gucci to H&M, brands across the retail industry are launching their own take back and resale schemes. But aside from its potential climate impact, why are brands joining the resale movement?

The few brands offering resale in 2020 were clearly motivated by the promise of resale to extend product life. The early adopters like Patagonia were brands built on durability and environmental responsibility. However, we have seen a much broader spectrum of brands enter the resale market in the past year, from Gucci launching Vault to H&M launching Rewear. Other than the potential environmental impact of resale, what else is driving brands towards recommerce? And why do we see an increasing number of brands take ownership of their own resale schemes rather than partnering with third-party marketplaces like Depop, The RealReal and Vestiaire Collective?

Resale is growing, fast

Quite simply, resale is growing at a pace at which it can no longer be ignored. Between 2020 and 2025, resale is expected to outgrow apparel retail by 11x, and reach double the market size of fast fashion. As soon as next year, 27% of items in our wardrobes will be second-hand.

“We recognise that [resale] is a fundamental shift that’s happening in the way clients are relating and engaging with luxury fashion, so we don’t want to close our eyes and pretend it’s not happening.”


The rise of resale presents both threats and opportunities. Leading brands have realised they must adapt or find themselves left behind.

Gen Z: the resale generation

The rapid rise of resale is particularly significant in that it is largely driven by younger consumers. Gen Z is the generation most likely to shop secondhand and over 90% of Depop customers are under 25.

Gen Z and Millennial consumers love resale because it offers a combination of affordability, sustainability and uniqueness. People don’t just shop secondhand to save money and reduce their consumption of new products: 55% of Depop’s customers are also seeking out one-of-a-kind products — refashioned, vintage items with a story behind them. Gen Z shoppers are looking for freshness, independence and the freedom to define their own style. This consumer demand is difficult to meet by creating new items.

Instead of designing more and more collections every year with ever-faster production runs, long-standing brands that have made quality items for decades actually have a unique opportunity to connect with their customers through resale of previous collections. Take the Gucci vault as an example — for Gucci, “Vault presents a highly curated assortment of rare finds from Gucci’s past, each the one and only of its kind.” This is not just about sustainability: Vault allows Gucci to build relationships with the people who were previously searching for “gucci” on third-party marketplaces, through crafting an experience only Gucci can offer.

A first-class experience matters

Finally, embracing resale allows brands to control the experience customers have with their products. An increasing number of consumers will experience their products secondhand whether they like it or not, and this is particularly true for the brand’s next generation of customers. Building their own resale channels allows brands to make sure this experience is what they want it to be.

The risks of leaving resale to third-party marketplaces are myriad: from counterfeits to inconsistent condition, amateur photography, misrepresentation, and inconvenient shipping and returns.

By building their own take back, refurbishment and resale scheme (or partnering with a resale solution provider like Relished), brands can delight customers with a resale experience as good as buying new. From the online experience to branded packaging and repairs using authentic components, every detail counts.

Brands are no longer just offering take back and resale to improve their impact on the planet. Resale is becoming increasingly important as a channel both for new revenue, and for acquiring Gen Z and Millennial customers with a different set of aspirations, and relationship with the products they buy. Brands that meet these expectations through embracing resale are setting themselves up to win over the coming decade.

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