Written by Amanda Vlavianos
Let’s Talk The Future of Re-Commerce
Iconic denim brand Levi Strauss & Co. has launched an official buyback program, Levi’s Secondhand, during a time in which the fashion industry is singing the tune of a certain buzzword: circularity.
The era of fast fashion has led consumers to dispose of clothing as quickly as they purchase it; bringing in an era where many products, particularly those produced in the fashion realm, are used for shorter periods of time, and discarded in landfills without a second thought. Efforts in sustainability and circularity have become more heightened than ever, and rightfully so – statistics show that one truck of textiles is burned or landfilled every second. Circularity revolves around the principal that does quite the opposite, keeping clothes in use and out of landfills. Dr. Anna Brismar, who coined the term in 2014, describes circularity in fashion: “It can be defined as clothes, shoes or accessories that are designed, sourced, produced and provided with the intention to be used and circulated responsibly and effectively in society for as long as possible in their most valuable form, and hereafter return safely to the biosphere when no longer of human use.”
In an effort to propel circularity in the fashion industry, Levi’s has launched Levi’s Secondhand. The program is not only an industry game-changer, but it is particularly new in the denim sector, a space where no other brand has taken initiative. In the past, Levi’s has launched services like Levi’s Authorized Vintage Program as well as a separate program, LVC for storied pieces, both of which resold Levi’s products at premium prices. But in 2020, fashion folks are keen for the hunt for authentic pieces (hello, 90s jeans!) at bargain prices, and while the company has dipped their toe in the vintage sector before, we have a feeling previous programs will be no match for Levi’s Secondhand.
To use the buyback program, consumers can now turn in any Levi’s denim piece, namely jeans and jackets (even if they are damaged), in exchange for a gift card to be used towards a future Levi’s purchase. The system is simple enough: sellers will receive a $15-$25 credit for their unwanted item, and the secondhand denim is then shifted to the Levi’s Secondhand marketplace to be sold at lower, affordable prices. Quite the appropriate shift during a year when consumers are especially commerce-conscious and the industry is feeling the uptick of recommerce, especially in a brand that already has “the dominant share of the vintage and secondhand jeans market,” says Levi’s CMO Jennifer Sey, adding, “Our belief is that you should love what you wear and live with it longer. Make sure you really love the things you buy. And what could be better than a perfectly worn-in pair of Levi’s.”
As the first denim brand to take responsibility for the full life cycle of their product, it’s an example of circularity that other brands will likely follow suit on. Additionally, during a time where circularity efforts in the industry are most notable and unparalleled, designers are taking the initiative to partner with resale sites like TheRealReal. Back in 2017, Stella McCartney became the first luxury brand to back re-commerce. The brand propelled circular economy through consignment by joining forces with The RealReal; an effort also made by Gucci, who partnered with the luxury consignment giant this year to engage in the secondhand market. McCartney has stated that sustainability and social responsibility have been a consistent aspect of her business, and backed it by putting her money where her mouth is, as the first luxury brand to push re-commerce of her products and stating, “The future of fashion is circular. It has to be.” Apps like Poshmark and thredUP are also proponents of re-commerce, giving users access to buy and sell new or used clothing, shoes and accessories.
2020 has been quite the year for fashion. An ever-changing industry that thrives in creativity, fashion will always have the ability to reshape itself, whether in physical shape of the clothes we wear or in business models. As many brands come to terms with re-commerce, Levi Strauss & Co. leads the way in the denim sector. The efforts of the industry to push sustainability and circularity is real, and the future of fashion resale is looking bright.