In what’s music to our ears, H&M shared some pretty big news. In the drive towards sustainability, the fashion giant just announced plans to start selling vintage and second-hand items. And it really couldn’t come a moment too soon.
Driven by changing consumer trends, which has seen an uptick in the market share of resale items, the brand will begin the scheme through their & Other Stories label, creating a ‘pre-loved’ section on their website. They’ll be enlisting the help of Swedish second-hand platform start-up Sellpy, to get going with the pilot and are hoping to eventually expand the idea into other markets.
The brand’s head of sustainability Anna Gedda spoke to Reuters, divulging more about the move. It seems like consumers’ concerns, not to mention multiplying the life-cycle of a garment are behind the decision. “We see this as a growing part of the industry, with great opportunities both for consumers and not least for the environmental impact, and how we can drastically reduce that by extending the life of the products,” she said. Plus, we all know trends always come back into style, so we’d call that a win-win.
Now, we know H&M are already making strides in the sustainability sphere. The launch of their ‘Conscious’ collection, featuring garments made of sustainable and recycled materials, marked steps away from so-called fast fashion, where items are made cheaply and quickly, designed to be worn merely once or twice. And given the environmental impact of the textile industry, it seems like a smart, responsible, and timely move.
While fast fashion hasn’t slowed down as such, reports do show appetites for resale items quickly catching up. In fact, the market for pre-loved items alone is on track to be worth $41billion in the next three years, with millennials largely driving that shift. So it seems like tastes and expectations are changing, with big brands paying attention and acting accordingly.
“It comes back to the whole circular vision… it just makes great sense to look into this business,” Gedda said. Though this isn’t H&M’s first spin of the resale wheel (they tried selling second-hand items before, but eventually scrapping the project), it does seem like this time it will take, with Gedda adding, “Now is a whole different moment with awareness of sustainability.” Indeed, it seems a cultural tipping point has arrived, with more and more consumers concerned about the environmental impacts of fast fashion. H&M’s recent fall in profits have even reflected this, so perhaps they’re more willing to try something new. Either way, it’s a welcome change. Second to Inditex (Zara’s parent company), they stand as the world’s largest fashion retailer, so where they set the tone, others will surely – and hopefully – follow.