All the Apparel in This Cool Store is Preloved!

Vintage fashion and repair workshops are what this store is all about.

Special Collections: REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE
Various vintage clothes on a rail

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The “pre-loved” trend is here to stay. And this is truer than ever in fashion where lately, the value of clothing is less in its novelty, and more in its materials, its processes, its impact, and in the stories it has to tell.

Following the slow and sustainable trend, two fashion leaders have joined forces to help debunk the myth that second-hand clothing is second-rate clothing. Their aim is to support a perspective that believes pre-loved garments are the route to circular fashion.

Madewell, a casual clothing label and ThredUp, an online consignment and thrift store, have created a “Circular Store” on the second floor of Madewell’s Brooklyn store. Here,  pre-owned Madewell clothes, repaired items, and donated used clothing are being offered to the public, as detailed by  Fast Company, the magazine covering innovative business.

Although the initiative is a pop-up store, meaning that it’s temporary, it still contributes to normalizing the purchase of pre-owned clothing. How? through offering second-hand items not only online, but also in its brick-and-mortar store.

This meaningful initiative is about much more than making a profit. Actually, it still doesn’t generate any revenue, as Liz Hershfield, senior VP and head of sustainability at the J. Crew Group, which owns Madewell, revealed to Fast Company. But the idea is promising, and addresses consumer concerns regarding a more sustainable future and how their choices can make a difference.

This pop-up store, which will be open throughout October, not only sells second hand items, Retail Wire, a website for the retail sector, details. It also features statistics about fashion waste, tips about creating a circular wardrobe, and QR codes with additional information on how to make an impact through our purchasing behavior. 

But there's more, because it also features workshops on upcycling and repairing clothes conducted by experts from the Patagonia outdoor clothing brand, and an in-store mending station.

“We believe this partnership drives traffic,” Hershfield told Fast Company. “We know that Gen Z and younger generations are very focused on thrifting. So for us, it’s very important to gain the attention of this customer by offering something that shows that we’re really standing behind circularity.”

Hershfield has a point. According to the ThredUp Resale Report over 40% of millennials and Gen Z shoppers have already shopped secondhand apparel, shoes, or accessories in the last year and one in three consumers care more about wearing sustainable apparel than before the Pandemic.

But being sustainable is not the only benefit to wearing pre-owned clothes. More accessible prices attract many potential consumers as well. And the new store will offer Madewell garments at around a third of the cost of retail prices.

The partnership between the two retailers is not new and it looks like it will endure. Madewell is one of the most popular brands on ThredUp. According to the online thrift shop, the label’s garments sell surprisingly fast — one every two minutes  — with their denim selling 40 percent faster than that of other brands. Earlier this year they created “Madewell Forever”, a resale program that aimed to expand Madewell’s effort to recycle and resell their denim to keep it away from landfills, Forbes points out. 

Looking ahead, the Circular Store might become a more permanent initiative, encouraging other similar partnerships in the fashion world. This is a promising scenario for the creation of a more sustainable future.   

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