Something big is happening here..and even though you’re part of the change…its so subtle you may not have noticed…allow me:
In 2007 Annie Leonard outlined, with a sense of humor, how we are systematically consuming and polluting the earth’s resources in her Story of Stuff. It made us think. It made us feel badly for buying that cheap alarm clock without thinking. We recycled, and felt a little bad about shopping, but nothing much changed.
In 2012 Macklemore’s song Thrift Shop, topped the charts and we were all gamely going through heaps of sometimes ripe-smelling clothes. That said, no matter how dedicated of an environmentalist you are, shopping at a thrift store comes with a stigma that even Macklemore’s hipness couldn’t overcome. Who needs that? Not me.
Then in 2014 we learned how to get our house in order and really get rid of stuff. Maybe you tried folding your clothes Marie Kondo style (there’s a video). Or, maybe you read her entire book and are now left with only things that spark joy. With all of that joy sparking holes can appear in a girl’s wardrobe, so some shopping is generally required. *Sigh*
In the same year specialty used clothing stores started to emerge, such as Sash Mercantile on Bainbridge Island. Unlike the heap-of-clothing thrift stores of yore, the owners of this store are clothing curators. They work hard to find unique, fun clothes and the clothes are displayed with the same care as new clothes in any other boutique.
Ok, so it started in 2009, but let’s face it, it didn’t really get going until last year. Real change came about with ThredUp.com. Why a real change? Its so subtle, its genius. Basically, it changes our relationship with clothes, ownership, recycling, and money. Oh, and its fun. It does this by offering used clothing online. I know Goodwill has been doing this for years, but I think its ThredUp’s merchandise presentation and touch points that make the difference. ThredUp gets the following things right and has disrupted the clothing industry by:
- Only taking/selling clothes from the last five years.
- Having curators who pick only the best clothes to sell.
- Making clothing donation easy and giving customers a credit to buy more used clothes.
- Having a very searchable site with good photos and descriptive information for fewer returns.
- Making returns easy, and using reusable packaging.
- Giving an option for credit easy when sending clothes to sell or sending clothes back.
- Having a great interface not only on their website, email blasts, Facebook posts, but also carrying the look and feel through their packaging and clean-out bag.
- Making purchasing super easy online.
- Cleaning clothes before they ship – no used-clothing smell.
- Oh, having a clean-out bag that they send for you to fill up and send back – sweet!
Bottomline – they are normalizing the used-clothing business. That is truly disruptive.