On Tuesday night, at a packed event at cocktail bar Jungle Bird in NYC’s Chelsea, designer Mara Hoffman spoke to an audience of young fashion professionals about one of the industry’s buzziest topics: resale.
Hoffman and her eponymous brand launched a branded resale program in 2020, making it among the first to embrace a trend that dozens of other fashion brands are now following. In the last two years alone, resale tech companies like Recurate, Trove and Archive have launched the branded resale programs of more than 100 fashion brands.
Branded resale is now table stakes, but the new question is: Where do brands go from here? According to Hoffman, brands should next work to actually integrate their resale and retail businesses, rather than keep them separate.
“Ideally, we want the two sides of the business to be communicating and supporting each other,” Hoffman told Glossy after the talk. “We have customers who shop resale and customers who shop our new products, with a little bit of overlap. But I want the two sides to support each other.”
Hoffman said her three years of experience with resale have impacted the way she designs. For example, she’s limited the materials used in all collections down to only five or six options, like hemp, wool and Econyl. The intention is to simplify the resale and recycling process later in a garment’s life. Now, she’s looking for additional ways to integrate the two shopping experiences.
Currently, on the brand’s website, a resale menu item is listed at the top of the homepage alongside the “New” shop. Hoffman mentioned a potential future move of redirecting customers looking for a sold-out new item to a pre-owned version or similar product on the resale side.
Right now, customers can only buy and sell Mara Hoffman products released in 2019 or after, which Hoffman said is due to migrating to a new e-commerce platform in 2019. She hopes that, within the next year, the brand will be able to extend its resale services to its products released in any year.
According to a report released on Tuesday by Trove, a company that provides resale services to brands including Coach and Lululemon, while branded resale programs are common, many brands have not yet fully integrated them into their overall retail experience. The report showed that only 25% of brand resale programs let customers combine new and pre-owned purchases in the same cart, for example. And only 35% of brands promote their resale programs on social media. On the flip side, almost 80% of brands include links to their resale program in the main menu navigation of their online store, and 50% have additional content about resale, such as guides and how-tos, on their website.
Karin Dillie, vp of partnerships at Recurate, which powers Mara Hoffman’s resale, echoed the idea that there’s still a lot of room for branded resale evolution. In addition to increasingly merging resale and retail, Dillie said she and Recurate are looking into ways to sell items that aren’t pre-owned but are too damaged to be sold as new.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest from brands in ways to deal with clothes that are just slightly under new quality, whether they were slightly damaged from returns or from manufacturing,” Dillie said. “Usually these clothes would just get thrown away or, best case, get donated. But even then, you don’t know where they end up. So we want resale to be a solution for that.”