Madewell and resale site ThredUp on Tuesday announced "Madewell Forever," an online resale platform curated by Madewell, and stocked by both ThredUp and Madewell stores. One aim of the project is "to collect 1 million pairs of jeans by 2023 and double the life of each recirculated garment," the companies said in a press release.
Another goal is to sell jeans. The platform, a stand-alone digital store that can also be accessed via Madewell's site via a "preloved" button, launched Tuesday with more than 3,000 pairs of used women's jeans; styles are "added hourly as available," per the release. Prices range from $35 to $50.
The project is run through ThredUp's "resale-as-a-service" tech and logistics, available to third-party retailers since 2018, and is an expansion of the companies' 2019 collaboration selling secondhand jeans. ThredUp said it has processed more than 100 million used items across 100 categories from 35,000 brands since its service began.
As apparel resale explodes — ThredUp estimates it will reach $77 billion in five years, outpacing the wider market eleven-fold and taking share from fast fashion — two basic business models are emerging. One has individual sellers photographing, pricing, describing and shipping items from their own closets one by one (think Depop, eBay or Poshmark, among others); the other has one entity collecting and warehousing items from consumers (think ThredUp).
The second introduces the kinds of efficiencies and logistics found in more traditional retail-wholesale operations, and has become a business in its own right for ThredUp. "Madewell worked closely with ThredUp to develop a unique, white-labeled resale channel including a digital shop – the first of its kind enabled by" the service, the companies said.
Consumers wishing to trade in their jeans can bring any brand or style to Madewell stores for a $20 credit toward a full-priced pair of Madewell jeans. ThredUp sorts the inventory and selects Madewell denim that meets certain quality standards to sell on the Madewell Forever site or at select Madewell stores. Anything deemed unsellable will be recycled through programs like Cotton Inc.'s Blue Jeans Go Green, per the release.
Buying secondhand apparel has been touted as a sustainable and cost-effective way to acquire clothing. If the companies meet their goal to collect a million pairs of jeans, that would "double what Madewell has collected in the past six years through its existing denim trade-in program," an effort that Madewell claims "has diverted over 500 tons of denim waste from landfills." The companies also say that Madewell Forever could "potentially [double] the time each piece is in circulation and [reduce] its environmental footprint by 82 percent."
The trend has many retailers' attention. Etsy last month joined in by plunking down $1.6 billion for Gen Z favorite Depop. Along with the thousands of brands working with ThredUp on resale, others are going it alone. The latter includes Nordstrom, which recently ended its pilot "See You Tomorrow" effort launched last year at its New York flagship. But Chris Wanlass, the store's vice president and general manager, said in an interview last week that Nordstrom learned a lot from the test and continues to explore ways to participate in resale.