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How Thrift Evolved to Responsible Retail

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In case you hadn’t noticed, the resale market is surging. According to reports, second-hand retail is the fastest growing segment of the fashion industry. Everyone is getting onboard: The recent Madewell x ThredUp partnership is a perfect example of next-gen second-hand selling with the launch of A Circle Store, a bricks and mortar extension of the Madewell Forever program introduced in June. And this summer, The Renewal Workshop (TRW) secured $6M in funding. The pioneer provider of white-labeled resale and innovator within the active/outdoor industry, based in Oregon, has expanded to Europe and hasalso brought on new executive leadership: Sridhar Krishnan as CFO, previously CFO of eBay in Europe Benelux region, and Shay Gipson to lead Business Development. Shay’s background includes work with Nordstrom, Ralph Lauren, and as the director of sales and brand relations for the Project and Magic Trade Shows. According to Caroline Brown, current TRW board member, investor, and managing director at Closed Loop Partners, “every brand needs to have a resale solution to stay competitive.”

But when did thrifting become a passion for a “pre-loved” wardrobe? Jennifer Le Zotte, author of the book From Goodwill to Grunge spoke earlier this month with Colleen Hill, a curator at the Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) during an online discussion about how clothing, style, and commerce came together to change American culture.

Le Zotte connects the dots from the earliest days of Salvation Army evangelists to the influence of Kurt Cobain’s cardigan to create a timeline of the evolution of “secondhand style.” Her commentary explained how buying pre-owned clothing “went from a signifier of poverty to a declaration of rebellion,” consisting of buyers and sellers from across the political and economic spectrum. Le Zotte  makes a case for how these players used the exchange of secondhand goods for economic and political ends.

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Sep 27, 2021

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