Money isn’t growing on trees, but it’s showing up in your old wardrobe

Kleider angeordnet
Source: pexels

If you believe a survey by Greenpeace, you’ll believe over one billion unused garments are stored in German closets. Not just moths, even savvy economists recognise a certain potential here. Environmentally conscious people are fighting against the wasteful use of our outer layers anyway. The key phrase: second hand!

Germany’s Disposable Society

Durchschnittlicher Kleidungsbestand
Source: Greenpeace DE

The Greenpeace study published at the end of 2015 not only provides insights into the wardrobes but also reveals some interesting facts about the buying behaviour and amount of wear clothes get. Accordingly, adult persons (18-69 years) in Germany have an average of 95 garments – socks and underwear not included. Of these, we almost never wear any fifth garment, because one year does not have enough days in it. In the calculator, this adds up to a billion unused items of clothing.

Kleidungsbestand in Deutschland
Source: Greenpeace DE

Just 21 per cent of people sort out their clothes only when they are worn out or no longer fit. Unused clothing is then often simply disposed of in the trash and not reused. Environmentalists find a lot of waste. It doesn’t have to be this way. Either you use a certified old clothes container or just sell rarely worn things.

Clothing sales made easy

According to Greenpeace, there is a correlation between purchased clothes and income, education, and origin. That means: The more we earn, the bigger and more stuffed our wardrobes are. This target group is being approached by the online second-hand shop Rebelle. Clothing that you no longer like or have grown out of, Rebelle wants to turn into cash. The company specialises in high-priced designer brands such as Gucci, Channel, or Dolce & Gabbana. Brands like H&M, Primark, or C&A aren’t sought after because they aren’t as valuable. Even men and children are getting interested in luxury second-hand retail. But Rebelle deliberately leaves this market to other platforms such as eBay classifieds, Kleiderkreisel, Mamikreisel, or Momox, just to name a few.

Umgang mit Kleidung
Quelle: Greenpeace

Trust is good, control is better

In their marketplace, Rebelle has declared a war on fakes. Because on platforms such as eBay or Kleiderkreisel fakes are in every corner: »Evening Wear like Hugo Boss« – but only boss-like. »Burberry Style Pattern Scarf« – but only ragged scraps instead of a British tailored cashmere. In the hope of having scored the ultimate bargain, many buyers are disappointed at home. Upon opening the box you don’t find a couture Gucci leather bag, but rather a worthless knockoff. But the legal situation is difficult because private sellers describe products to the best of their knowledge and belief and exclude warranties. The sellers are difficult to reach, and sometimes are selling stolen items.

That’s where Rebelle wants to begin. The exchange of goods for money does not take place directly between the seller and the buyer. Used designer clothing from private sellers can be sold either on a commission basis via the Rebel Marketplace, or the seller itself. With the latter option, luxury handbags, for example, remain at the seller’s home. Rebelle checks with their experts on the authenticity of the goods and only then make the clothing available. Only then can customers be sure to buy valuable originals when they buy. The trust pays off: Recently, Rebelle sold a handbag worth €65,000.

After the products have been checked for authenticity, a photographer skilfully stages the pieces of clothing and a professional author writes product texts that are not only emotionally meaningful but also true. Of course, Rebelle can pay for this service. On average, the company keeps 30 per cent of the sales price – profit margins, as they are known for example from art retail.

Similar to the international company TheRealReal, Rebelle even goes a step further and offers a »personal concierge service«, which sometimes also scour the wardrobe for hidden treasures together with the potential seller and take the goods with them.

The way to success

A company like Rebelle does not find its place on the Internet by word of mouth on the streets. In fact, the founders put a lot of emphasis on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) right from the start to reach and attract new customers to their platform. It was also important to them that the demanding target group feels completely comfortable from the first click on the website to the magical moment of unpacking. The high-quality brand and the associated philosophy are reflected, for example, in the noble packaging, which thrills many customers and gives the luxury item the deserved frame.

Not just luxury clothes are finding new owners

The second-hand market for fashion is growing and growing. Clear statements about market sales in the industry do not exist yet. Founded five years ago, Rebelle is rumoured to make over 10 million euros in sales a year. Vite EnVogue, an established competitor, does around 15 million euros a year.

Of course, large companies also want to occupy this market. For example, Zalando has recently started to score with Wardrobe as a second-hand platform. Zalando benefits from the data and shows potential customers personalised advertising so that just organised closets are immediately refilled.

The future is looping

The trend towards a sustainable and environmentally friendly life is sensible. How do we think more and more about our planet and the people who still want to inhabit it for centuries and millennia to come? From niche markets, new markets can develop with great potential over time. Companies that are involved from the beginning benefit from experience and customer relationships, but also local file sharing can last. Because in many cities there are also smaller second-hand shops, which buy up the sorted out and offer interesting treasures – and often there is still a tasty coffee on site.

Recognise trends yourself and get started

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