5 Major Retail-Resale Partnerships That Prove the Strength of Secondhand

Over the past couple of years, resale has continued to make gains — propelled by millennial and Gen Z shoppers who not only increasingly use digital platforms but also have become more cognizant of their carbon footprints. Then there’s also the COVID-19 factor, which has boosted resale adoption among budget-conscious consumers.

It’s no surprise, then, that more and more retailers are looking to capitalize on the burgeoning market by entering into direct partnerships with such resellers.

According to GlobalData statistics, the United States-based secondhand market is projected to expand at a 39% compound annual growth rate from 2019 to 2024, reaching $64 billion, and become twice the size of the fast-fashion industry on a global basis. More specifically, online secondhand is set to improve 69% between 2019 and 2021, while the general retail sector is predicted to shrink 15%.

Here, FN rounds up the major retail-resale partnerships or investments that have emerged in recent years — proof that secondhand is not just booming but is here to stay.

Mytheresa with Vestiaire Collective

On June 8, Mytheresa and Vestiaire Collective introduced a resale service involving the former’s so-called “top clients,” who can now sell their pre-loved handbags from a selection of 20 high-end labels on Vestiaire Collective and receive payment in the form of a Mytheresa store credit. According to the platforms, the initiative marks the first time that a multibrand luxury platform has embraced designer resale to “reinforce the shift to circularity as part of the fashion ecosystem.” Together, they plan to roll out the service to Mytheresa customers outside of Europe — and expand it to all product categories — by the end of the year.

Walmart with ThredUp

Last year in June, as the COVID-19 health crisis kept stores shuttered across the U.S., Walmart made headlines following the announcement of its collaboration with ThredUp. After all, both businesses are powerhouses in their own right — the former widely recognized as the world’s biggest company by revenue and the latter touting itself as the world’s largest online thrift store. What’s more, the partnership has offered Walmart more clout in the fashion space, which it has prioritized in recent years through the launch of private-label brands and the hiring of fashion designer Brandon Maxwell as creative director, among other initiatives.

Macy’s and JCPenney with ThredUp

Over the course of 24 hours, two nationwide retailers forged a partnership with ThredUp. In its second-quarter conference call in August 2019, Macy’s announced that it had launched a pilot with the resale site at 40 of its stores across the country. Shortly thereafter, JCPenney revealed that 30 of its locations would offer a selection of the site’s secondhand women’s apparel and accessories to be curated weekly. Through the alliances, the department store chains looked to not only attract the younger customers who are driving the secondhand boom, but also restore stagnating sales amid the acceleration of e-commerce.

Burberry with The RealReal

Back in October 2019, Burberry began a pilot program that encouraged customers to consign its products on The RealReal. It was a significant marriage between a British luxury label and a U.S.-based secondhand seller — amplified by an “exclusive” shopping experience that went beyond traditional retail-resale partnerships. In select Burberry stores across the U.S., customers were able to enjoy champagne and high tea, as well as shop a personal selection of the fashion house’s latest collection at the time. (The RealReal has also partnered with sustainable designer brand Stella McCartney, which previously opened a pop-up shop at the consignment marketplace’s concept store in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood.)

Neiman Marcus with Fashionphile

Two years ago, Neiman Marcus became the first major luxury retailer to directly invest in the resale market via a minority stake in Fashionphile. Since then, the partnership has seen the opening of five shop-in-shops at the chain’s stores in Palo Alto, San Francisco, Beverly Hills and Fashion Island in California, as well as in NorthPark Dallas. It added that it has collected nearly $16 million for more than 18,000 items in resale merchandise. Then, in April this year, Neiman Marcus revealed that it would open 10 more Fashionphile Selling Studios across the country, plus launch a digital tool dubbed Stylist Network to allow sales associates to help clients buy and sell high-end bags and accessories.

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