For younger kids, buying pre-loved clothes to be more eco-friendly has replaced the buzz their elders still get from a haul of new clothes.
While haunting high street charity shops has long been a rite of passage for teenagers, these days the younger generation are being introduced to second-hand fashion via online peer-to-peer platforms such as Depop and Vinted.
Today, start-up Haru, founded by Belfast school friends Jacques Hill and Sam Lynas, is working hard to make it easier to sell second-hand clothes online for clothing brands and charity shops. One of his first partnerships last year was with Age NI, with Haru guiding the charity on which items to list, collecting his stock, selling it online and then returning the money from the sales.
Haru’s website is clean and simple, with stock divided into the usual categories and featuring many more expensive brands such as Burberry and Barbour.
Jacques is evangelical about the used market and its potential for growth once companies realize that instead of just selling a product once, they can sell it up to three times.
Haru has grown bigger after winning a £450,000 investment in a funding round last year, as Jacques explains: “We completely changed the product and service at the start of 2021, we rebuilt it . We now work with over 300 retailers in the UK and Ireland.
He explains the concept of Haru (acronym for ‘help and re-use’) as a fashion resale supplier that combines tech, e-commerce, services and logistics.
“We provide an end-to-end retail service to retailers in the UK and Ireland. Our first target market was primarily second-hand retailers and, within that, charity retailers.
“Starting this year, we are moving towards greater growth in new areas of business, providing fashion resale services to fashion brands, fashion retailers, fashion marketplaces and potentially directly to consumers too.
“We are a service company powered by the technology we build, and the underlying goal of that is to make selling second-hand fashion as simple as possible and as scalable as possible.
“We are trying to push the second-hand fashion industry to make second-hand the first choice. It is already piloted by peer-to-peer platforms, but we [aim] to move to the next level of service, quality.
Sam and Jacques went into business while in school, buying and selling second-hand clothes. They started Haru in 2017 when they realized there was underutilized value in online secondhand selling.
“In fashion retail, second-hand is one of the fastest growing segments, as Gen Z and Millennials are much more likely to buy second-hand first because they ‘ is cheaper and for sustainability reasons. We have a larger problem of producing too much of everything, and because we [do]it is likely that if you are looking for something, you will be able to buy it used.
But selling secondhand online can pose challenges because inevitably there is a mix of different items to list online, as opposed to dozens of the same item.
“The biggest challenge is actually creating a product listing and scanning a product.”
However, once this issue is resolved, the business potential of the opportunity becomes clear.
“Fashion brands that sell millions of pounds of clothes every year, they are now seeing second-hand fashion growing so fast and people selling [their] produced again and again.
“A lot of retailers are now looking at the resale market and not only thinking it’s more sustainable to resell their products multiple times, but people are more open to buying. They’re looking to make their models more circular. So , from a fashion brand’s perspective, why can’t they sell a product three or four times in its lifetime, instead of constantly producing more and more?”
He said peer-to-peer platforms like Vinted and Depop have been fantastic in introducing consumers to the concept of second-hand shopping. But because you’re buying from other consumers, you don’t always get the seamless customer service from e-commerce companies like Amazon.
“Depop was a big inspiration to us when we looked at the second-hand market. But so are you. [hear] about people sending things late or in Pringles tubes to save on packaging costs.
Instead, Haru aims to provide second-hand shoppers with the same level of customer experience and service they’ll get when buying something new.
“There’s a stigma around second-hand when there really shouldn’t be. It’s about making the second-hand shopping experience as premium as possible. We want to create an environment in the second-hand industry where there is no stigma and is not considered second-class, because the whole experience is so good, especially the product listings, photography, etc. , everything looks good.
He says the argument for doing more to protect the environment is at Haru’s heart, as reselling reduces overproduction.
“Why create a product and sell it once when you can sell it two or three times? Basically, selling this product two or three times limits the need to produce another product.
“Also, brands like Depop have made second-hand shopping cool because of the brand image and culture they’ve created.”
A young person who has started buying second-hand clothes online will later visit charity shops and find them more accessible because they have already bought second-hand clothes online, Jacques believes.
Yet Haru is not on a mission to completely usurp the purchase of new products.
“We have a strong sustainability philosophy, but we have no illusions that consumer mindsets can change overnight. We don’t expect people to buy everything used. But the impact of buying two or three used items in your wardrobe is incredible.
“We are moving towards the second-hand industry, which continues to grow its market share.
“We’re not trying to completely get rid of new production or tell people they should never buy anything new. It’s not realistic.
“It’s just about continuing to grow the second-hand market share and opening people’s minds so there’s no stigma around it and encouraging them to look at the options. ‘opportunity.”