In five years’ time, the total market for secondhand will have doubled to $51 billion, this year’s report from U.S. secondhand specialist ThredUp predicted. Secondhand could eventually outpace fast-fashion sales and brands of all kinds have been looking for ways to enter the resale market.
A subsidiary of Swedish fashion giant H&M, & Other Stories plans to get ahead of the trend by cooperating with a local resale platform, Sellpy. Come Monday, the brand will be claiming a dedicated section of Sellpy’s web site — a “shop within a shop,” as & Other Stories boss Sanna Lindberg describes it — in which used & Other Stories garments will be offered for sale by private individuals. Sellpy will take care of the administration and & Other Stories will work on marketing the project, encouraging customers to recycle and buy on Sellpy via social media and the Swedish retailer’s own web site.
In Sweden, Sellpy — originally called “Sell Help” — works a little like ThredUp: customers order an empty bag from the platform, fill it with secondhand items, then Sellpy picks up the package and takes care of the sales; their reward is a 40 percent commission. Founded in 2014, Sellpy is a Swedish start-up success: The platform boasted turnover of around $10.8 million in 2017, double that of 2016. Sellpy has also raised several million dollars in venture capital, with the main shareholder being H&M.
The project with & Other Stories was suggested at the end of 2018 after & Other Stories staff in the Stockholm office started a small, in-house vintage depot. “Anyone working in the design atelier could bring their pieces and sell them internally,” Lindberg told WWD.
“We were almost a little bit jealous of the colleagues who had their desks close to this shop,” added Elke Kieft, communications manager at the brand in Stockholm. “They saw the treasures coming in first.”
Those positive experiences convinced the Stockholm team to expand the idea online, Lindberg said. The company doesn’t consider secondhand a threat to sales of current collections, either. “We see it as a complement to our current online assortment as it broadens the customer’s choices and gives them the possibility to find pieces they regretted not buying before,” a spokesman from the project explained.
The project will only run in Sweden to start with, although Lindberg added that, depending on the results, “there’s no telling what the future holds.”
If all goes well, the six-month experiment could demonstrate how mainstream retailers can work with resale platforms. Until now, it has mostly been either luxury labels, dedicated vintage stores or brands with a focus on sustainability that have engaged with resale platforms in a more determined way.
Additionally, the project leans toward a business trend that sees established online platforms used to set up these kinds of “shops within a shop.” Major European online retailer Zalando recently revealed that it wants to focus more on its so-called partner program — where brands like Nike Inc. and Wrangler control prices and deliver, but the platform does the sales legwork — and increasing this, until it makes up around 40 percent of Zalando’s business by 2024.
There are further reasons to keep an eye on the Sellpy-& Other Stories collaboration. H&M often runs small experimental projects with subsidiaries before taking them company-wide. And Sellpy founder, Michael Arnör, has big plans, having previously told local media that he wants to expand Sellpy to become “the Amazon of the European secondhand market.”