Q&a / Fashiontech
”It’s key to actively offer your customers to buy second-hand pieces in your regular sales channels to fully normalize pre-owned garments”
On how to make the flourishing vintage market even more relevant
13 Sep 2021

Wessman is chief commercial officer at leading service and e-commerce site for second-hand goods, Sellpy. After the latest launch in Germany last year, the startup now operates on four markets, and it’s about to extend to 20 EU markets — most of Europe — this spring.

In their new campaign, Change for the better, Sellpy analysed nearly 130.000 items to show how big of a difference a small change in consumption — such as choosing a pre-owned garment instead of a newly produced one — can make, by comparing the emissions of new clothes to that of their own second hand.

— We have launched new calculations showing that second-hand from us emits 21x less CO2e compared to buying the same item new. In other words and numbers, that’s ~95% less CO2e when you choose pre-owned instead of new. The remaining ~5% is what our re-commerce service emits today, a number we continuously work to lower even more, Wessman tells. He continues:

— Calculating the impact of clothing on the climate is complicated. The impact varies widely depending on the type of garment, production techniques, and materials used. We’ve tried to identify an easy-to-understand figure by focusing on averages. Using our own product data, we can calculate an average garment’s weight and material composition.

— We then use various sources, such as H&M’s sustainability data and The Higg Index, to estimate the number of kg CO2e required to produce, store, and ship such an item when bought new. Then we look at our own average footprint for handling and selling a pre-owned item. Finally, we weigh the two items against each other to calculate the pre-owned vs new ratio.

Change for the better

A large part of the industry is now debating how to extend the life cycle of garments. From your perspective, what’s important to think about for brands with the ambition to do so?

— To extend the life cycle of a garment, it’s also key to actively offer your customers to buy second-hand or upcycled pieces in your regular sales channels to fully normalize pre-owned pieces and remove any stigma that might still remain. In today’s market, there are partners like ourselves that help both collect used pieces from a brands’ customers but then help the brand to sell back those pieces to new customers.

The second-hand and vintage market is flourishing. Will it continue to do so, you think? And how can vintage garments become even more relevant as an option for the end consumer?

— I think we have only seen the very beginning of what the second-hand market can be. We can see that buying second-hand is much more normalized and even preferred in younger demographics who have grown up with the possibility to easily shop second-hand online. The key is convenience though as customers expect the same buying experience as when buying new items online and if we want to fully normalize second-hand, it’s up to us to keep improving that experience and create awareness among consumers who don’t know how convenient it is.