It’s a thriving industry, with sales in the USA from online resale fashion alone predicted to reach nearly US$31 billion by 2025. The growth has been fueled by apps, social media and a new generation of shoppers – mostly gen Z and millennials – who have more circular fashion habits.
It all feels very avant-garde, but let’s not forget who the real OG of this resale world is: eBay. This platform has been around since 1995 and, as a recent announcement proves, it’s keeping up to speed.
On the off chance you need reminding, eBay is the biggest online marketplace in the world and one of the pioneers of “recommerce” (the buying and selling of pre-owned goods). It has over 182 million users and, while it sells just about everything, it’s recently made some serious moves to up its sustainable fashion game.
On Earth Day last month, eBay UK launched Imperfects, an initiative described as the “fashion equivalent to supermarkets’ wonky veg”. The Imperfects range offers clothes, shoes and accessories that are considered new but have minor defects. This can be anything from small scuff marks, to a missing button or loose thread. Much like the wonky veg, the aim is to keep items out of landfill and encourage shoppers to embrace products that are less than perfect – but still perfectly good to use.
There are over 100 high-street and high-end designers listed on Imperfects, including Gucci, Chloé, Prada, YSL, Stella McCartney, Versace and Givenchy. In terms of discount, we’re talking up to 60 per cent off RRP. Think Bottega Veneta bags, Givenchy leather shoes, Jacquemus sandals and Prada heels priced at less than half their retail cost.
There are no hidden tricks either: all imperfections are clearly labelled in the listing with photos of the defects, so customers know exactly what they’re getting. And just to be clear, “defects” can mean something as simple as being ex-display stock or a barely noticeable stain, so you really are getting items that are good as new.
The head of fashion at eBay UK, Jemma Tadd, said they were “proud to launch Imperfects as another avenue to help keep fashion items out of landfill”. But it’s not just about environmental responsibility: the brand is responding to what its customers want. eBay’s second annual Recommerce Report found the sales of pre-owned products had grown among the younger generations, with gen Z driving the demand. Of those surveyed, 34 per cent of sellers named sustainability as a major reason for engaging in recommerce and 20 per cent of eBay buyers cited the circular economy as their top reason for buying pre-owned.
Aside from the fact this initiative helps us score cheaper luxury goods that would otherwise end up binned, we love that this feels like eBay coming full circle. When the platform (which was originally called AuctionWeb) first launched over 25 years ago, founder Pierre Omidyar was trying to sell a broken laser pointer. He disclosed that it didn’t work and started bidding at $1. Someone ended up buying it for $14, thus kickstarting a global ecommerce platform that would go on to extend the life of millions of products. Nice, right?
Keen to get your hands on some nearly perfect gear? Shop eBay’s Imperfects range here.