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In light of the recent calls for big-box retailers to become more sustainable amidst the ongoing climate crisis, Target is testing the second hand apparel market. Partnering with ThredUp, Target launched a page on the secondhand retailer’s site back in late March that includes listings of women’s and kids’ apparel and accessories.
Among some of the available garments in the new program are Target’s private labels, like kids’ clothing brand Cat & Jack, or its limited-time designer collaborations, such as one with Lilly Pulitzer in 2015, and Levi among others. All are curated by Target from ThredUp’s inventory.
CNBC notes that Target is in a “test and learn” phase. The retailer has worked with ThredUp before, rolling out a six-month test back in 2015 that never came to fruition. The original program lets consumers buildup Target store credit for gently used items that ThredUp was willing to resell. The new site for Target on ThredUp is labeled as a beta test right now, with around 400,000 things priced up to 90% off.
According to ThredUp’s “Recommerce 100” (a list of retailers and brands that use and don’t use its RaaS program), 41 brands are entering the lucrative second hand business. Target’s joining the resale party introduces the market to products at a scale never before seen with hundreds of thousands of items.
The partnership underscores Target’s ongoing sustainability initiatives, like Target Zero, a new label in stores and online that informs a consumer of a product’s sustainability. They also turned a San Diego-area storefront into its first net-zero energy store by adding carport solar panels.
Other big-box retailers are joining the party. Between consumers’ growing concerns over sustainability, and the economy pushing shoppers towards a more frugal lifestyle, the second hand apparel industry is a crucial crossover.
Walmart also partnered with ThredUP in 2020 at the height of the pandemic. The retailer offered 750,000 pre-owned, “gently-used” items on the marketplace.
And during the winter of 2021, Urban Outfitters launched an online second-hand marketplace called Nuuly Thrift, an extension of their Nuuly subscription boxes. The new platform lets the company collect a commission on resold apparel that the chain misses out on when its products are resold on Poshmark or ThredUP.
It’s a juicy market. ThredUP’s “2021 Resale Report” projects annual revenues for the curated secondhand clothing at around $36 billion (with a big B) and estimated that the number would rise to $77 billion within the next five years. That’s a staggering 11 times faster than apparel retailing as a whole.