Part 1: Tackling the Man-Made Climate Emergency

The Rental, Repair & Resale Revolution.


With a new sense of urgency to safeguard the health of our planet for future generations, brands must take radical, disruptive action, playing a key role in Tackling the Man-Made Climate Emergency.

2020 marks an important year since businesses began to place greater focus on sustainable practices. CSR initiatives are coming of age and we are at a point of reflection and future planning. With heightened awareness about the climate crisis and the negative impact of human activity on the environment, we are finally acknowledging that things cannot go on as they have before.

As we near ‘the point of no return’, we have, reportedly, only 11 years left to prevent irreversible damage to our planet’s ecosystem. As such, we need to stop thinking about sustainability as a trend, but as a mainstream expectation and an important part of future proofing our way of life. Fundamentally businesses and people need to shift their mindsets to the wealth of possibilities for innovation and creativity that lie ahead.

Over the course of this series of articles we will be exploring the ways in which brands can use their influence to shape the path to a more sustainable future - facilitating new consumption behaviours in The Rental, Repair, Resale Revolution; as well as opportunities for designing Sustainable Spaces and Experiences.

Post-Ownership Models

From Netflix to Uber and Airbnb, the linear economy has given way to a more performance-based sharing economy in the entertainment, travel and hospitality industries. As such The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2030 all products will have become services, presenting fundamental challenges for brands across all sectors.

But with consumer attitudes and behaviours already shifting, ownership is fast becoming far less important. Once innovative models of subscribing, borrowing, renting, reusing and returning are rapidly evolving and becoming increasingly mainstream. Specialist players in this space are demonstrating the lucrative potential of these models, with fashion rental business Rent the Runway recently valued at $1 billion. New players are now emerging in new categories, such as Harth which has achieved notable media attention in its bid to change the way we furnish our interiors. IKEA has also responded to this shift, voicing its commitment to roll out furniture rental services globally, indicating emerging momentum in the mass market.

As consumers continue to express interest in post-ownership consumption models, now is the time for more traditional brands and mass market retailers to evolve. Core to this is re-evaluating their business models to provide access as well as ownership, in line with these new consumption behaviours; or risk being left behind.

Care, Repair & Recycle Services

In protest at throwaway culture and needless waste, consumers are actively looking after what they’ve got, retaining the appearance and value of their belongings. This is driving the exponential rise of the resale market and aligns with a renewed appreciation for craft and maintenance skills which have been overlooked in recent years. Brands can strengthen relationships and foster deeper connections with a new generation of eco-consumers by offering post-purchase services such as repair clinics, cleaning boutiques and educational care guides as part of their core value proposition. Denim brands Nudie Jeans and Denham are veterans of this approach, which is now being adopted more widely by brands like H&M who have launched Take Care, a clothing repair space within its Paris flagship store. In the luxury market, Harvey Nichols has teamed up with The Restory to introduce specialist handbag and shoe repair services into their stores.

Acknowledging eye-raising statistics that people in the UK send 235 million items of clothing, annually, to landfill; Zara, H&M and M&S have started rewarding and incentivising consumers for recycling in-store. As brands develop more circular products and services, they must in turn educate consumers on what’s possible and facilitate closed loop behaviours. Leading the way, our client adidas has launched Futurecraft.loop, a ground-breaking running shoe that is made to be remade, using one material type and no glue. Once the shoes come to the end of their first life, they can be returned to adidas where they are ground to pellets and melted into material for new products, with absolutely no waste.

With all of the above, the opportunity for brands to supplement their core offer and existing revenue streams, whilst encouraging sustainable consumer behaviours should not be overlooked.

The Resale Revolution

As mentioned above, the second-hand economy has exploded in recent years and resale is rising up to be a powerful force in the future consumption landscape, leaving behind negative connotations as it evolves. Growth projections put it at a staggering 1.5 times the size of fast fashion within the next decade.

Tapping into consumer interest in hype and drop culture, an array of specialist online re-commerce brands are leading the way, especially within the luxury and sneaker markets. These brands recognise the value of moving offline to create brick-and-mortar marketplaces and are revealing how resale can play a valuable role in key retail destinations. Notable concepts include community, lifestyle hubs from TheRealReal and Depop, offering repairs, alterations, authentication, valuations, expert workshops and Instagrammable backdrops.

For established brands and retailers, resale is an opportunity there for the taking. To do so, brands need to successfully challenge the perception that resale is a threat to new product sales and consider the ways trade-in or buy-back initiatives, pre-owned boutiques and recommerce partnerships can invite new engagement and transaction opportunities. Take Le Good Dressing by Galeries Lafayette in collaboration with Place2Swap, which creates an in-store destination for per-to-peer exchanges between buyers and sellers; and similarly, & Other Stories is running a trial with online marketplace Sellpy. While TrueFacet is the first e-commerce platform for jewellery and watches to sell certified refurbished goods in partnership with brands. As resale moves into mainstream adoption, brands across all sectors and levels of the market should recognise and respond to the powerful retail transformation that is underway.

AE x Urban Necessities : Taking Resale Mainstream

Like jeans, sneakers are essential to self-expression. With this in mind, we collaborated with American Eagle to bring Urban Necessities first and only resale space outside of Las Vegas, into AE’s Broadway store - offering an assortment of rare sneakers, curated exclusively for the New York market.

This was a win-win for both brands, introducing Urban Necessities to a new global and mainstream audience, whilst driving media attention, social engagement and footfall for American Eagle – even garnering headlines such as “AMERICAN EAGLE IS NOW SELLING $50,000 SNEAKERS!”.

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