It appears the most infamous fast fashion brands have officially cracked the code on sustainability issues plaguing the industry overnight. Who would’ve thought?
We’re all human and new clothes are nice and all, but we’re also cluing onto the fact that buying everything new ain’t it—especially when thrifting provides the same variety and value. So, of course, brands with a reputation for being the furthermost thing away from giving a shit about the environment are cluing onto this shift in consumer mindset and trying to capitalise on it by launching their own resale platforms. Here we go!
PrettyLittleThing, a UK-based brand with a reputation for worker exploitation and promoting once-wear culture (making outfits that disintegrate into pieces that turtles choke on after one wash), announced last week that they would be launching their own resale platform in the hopes that it will ‘disrupt the fashion industry’.
On the surface, brand-owned resale shops look positive for our planet as they can help to close the loop, keeping clothes out of landfill. For brands already actively pursuing more sustainable practices, resale makes sense as it encourages degrowth while providing new revenue potential, especially when the predicted growth of the global resale market is expected to grow three times faster than the overall apparel market.
But unless this is paired with changes made at the start of the line, like addressing the overproduction of clothes made from virgin plastics derived from fossil fuels such as nylon, acrylic and polyester, then it’s nothing more than a greenwashing marketing ploy and a way to make a quick buck.
It’s even more concerning if brands are handcuffing reselling mechanisms with conditions that limit the ability to sell. Mara Hoffman’s Full Circle marketplace is a worrying example, where only items that have been bought after 2019 are permitted to be sold on the platform. Even worse is when brands offer a store credit over cash return, which does the complete opposite of discouraging consumption while keeping companies’ pockets full.
Unsurprisingly, PrettyLittleThing’s resale app, Regain, has gone and done just that, offering consumers the opportunity ‘to turn your unwanted clothes into discounts to get cash off your next PrettyLittleThing purchase’. This translates directly to doing absolutely nothing positive for the environment. This whole notion of resale just puts the onus back onto the customer, deflecting any accountability that brands should be expected to take for the mess they are creating.
Still, this isn’t anywhere near as astonishing as Boohoo appointing a Kardashian (a name so synonymous with consumer capitalism that it could replace the definition in the dictionary), as their new ‘sustainability ambassador.’ I’m unsure on what planet Kourtney Kardashian holds the credentials to steer a company (and one as obsessed with making money at the expense of others and the environment as herself) on sustainability practices, but I suppose a caption with enough green hearts and earth emojis will do the trick.
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It’s not even greenwashing at this point—Boohoo launched their Kardashian collab line alongside a 493-piece line called ‘PU Season’ as in PU, for virgin plastic. Take me out of the oven—or the Earth that we continue to heat up and destroy for fashion—because I am done.