Abercrombie & Fitch Co. is getting into the resale market with the help of ThredUp — but there’s a twist.
Starting Wednesday, the partnership, part of ThredUp’s Resale-as-a-Service, allows shoppers to send their used or no longer desirable clothing and accessories to the online consignment shop in exchange for Abercrombie or Hollister gift cards. The difference is that shoppers can send in women’s or children’s apparel, accessories and footwear from any brand and will receive merchandise gift certificates from Abercrombie in exchange.
Fran Horowitz, Abercrombie & Fitch’s chief executive officer, said Abercrombie’s interest in the program is part of the retailer’s sustainability initiatives and efforts to keep clothing out of landfills — hence the Earth Day launch.
“Sustainability is integral to our success and it’s as important as ever to our customers,” Horowitz said in a statement. “This collaboration not only helps reduce textile waste, but it also offers our customers a convenient way to do good, something we know they are eager to do.”
“This partnership will reward the retailer’s customers for cleaning out their closets responsibly,” Horowitz added.
Even so, despite fashion’s fixation on sustainability, the venture comes at a time when the future of resale and apparel sharing is uncertain. In 2018, ThredUp reported that resale apparel was a $24 billion business, with estimates that it would grow to a $51 billion business by 2023 — a much faster rate of growth than traditional retailing.
But as consumers continue to hunker down at home amid the coronavirus pandemic — six feet away from others and germs — many are second-guessing their loyalty to the secondhand and rental apparel markets.
That’s evident in the thousands of Rent the Runway memberships on hold as consumers and fashion editors alike work from home with nowhere to go. Millions more have recently become unemployed and are resisting the urge to shop online, even as retailers offer massive discounts. There’s also the looming inventory issue of a whole season that’s been postponed and the question of what retailers will do when they eventually do reopen with all of last season’s merchandise in stores.
Abercrombie & Fitch is also struggling with the prolonged social distancing measures in North America and Europe. Many of its stores — more than 850 around the world, many of them located in malls — remain shut until further notice. Earlier this month, the retailer furloughed the majority of its in-store associates. Shares of Abercrombie, which closed down 5.24 percent on Tuesday to $9.76 a piece, have fallen 64.5 percent in the last year.
Still, James Reinhart, cofounder and chief executive officer of ThredUp, said he’s excited to add Abercrombie to the company’s portfolio of brand partnerships.
“ThredUp’s Resale-as-a-Service platform was built with consumers and forward-thinking retailers in mind,” he said. “We look forward to delivering this convenient, sustainable service to their customers.”
Consumers who wish to participate must first request a “clean-out kit” from thredup.com/abercrombie or thredup.com/hollister. The kit includes a prepaid shipping label to mail clothes to ThredUp. After the value of the goods has been determined, ThredUp will distribute gift cards from the Abercrombie brand of choice. All Abercrombie & Fitch brands — Abercrombie Kids, Hollister Co. and intimates brand Gilly Hicks, in addition to the nameplate brand — are included in the deal.
In addition, shoppers who specifically request a clean-out kit through Abercrombie and Fitch, will receive an additional 15 percent on top of the total value of the gift card, an incentive from the company, according to a representative.
ThredUp accepts “like new” or “gently used” apparel, shoes and accessories from more 35,000 brands, which are listed on its web site.
Gift card amounts are determined by the brand, category, quality of product and seasonality of each piece, with in-season, higher demand and new items receiving higher payouts. Luxury items may receive a commission of up to 80 percent, according to ThredUp. Shoppers can also use ThredUp’s “Payout Estimator” to get a rough idea of the value of each item.