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Circular retail destinations empower consumers to shop differently

Midcentury table and clothes on rack
Dec 17, 2021 By WGSN Insider

Circular retail destinations are growing in prevalence as retailers seek to align with consumer desire for sustainable living. In the US, the secondhand market is set to reach $77bn within the next five years and people are looking for ways to ensure the longevity of their purchases.

“Providing a space where shoppers can try on, experience and purchase pre-loved items not only facilitates circularity, but allows brands to further educate consumers about what they’re buying and how to look after it so it can be resold again,” says Laura Saunter, senior strategist at WGSN Insight. “Physical resale locations also offer a community-led place for customers to meet, swap or resell clothing, or provide a route for them to be returned for recycling.”

In the latest Sustainability Bulletin, we explore three key strategies that brands are using to make circular retail more engaging:

Circular retail hubs

Repair is at the forefront of US fashion brand Madewell and online resale platform Threadup's pop-up, A Circular Store in New York. Offering a full assortment of pre-worn clothing, it features a mending station and workshops on upcycling by Patagonia’s Worn Wear team. 

IKEA also empowers the shopper to repair with a new business strategy that focuses on details such as hardware and joinery, designing items so parts can be easily replaced if damaged. Its As Is online marketplace, launching next year, will allow customers to browse and reserve used items online to later collect in-store.

Madewell x Threadup pop-up
Madewell x Threadup A Circular Store pop-up

Removing bias

Japanese apparel company Rename is taking the bias out of secondhand by removing original tags from garments and replacing them with its own. The idea is to allow customers to focus on the quality of the clothing instead of the popularity of the brands.

Making it simple

Ease of resell is the driving force behind Australian fashion retailer The Iconic's new one-click functionality on its website allows customers to resell, rent or recycle pre-loved items conveniently.

WGSN subscribers can read the rest of this month’s key sustainability stories in the new Sustainability Bulletin: December 2021, or catch up on circular retail strategies and the future of rental homeware on the blog.

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