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Vestiaire Collective Bans Fast Fashion

Over the last 12 months, roughly five percent of the items posted on resale platform Vestiaire Collective came from fast-fashion brands like Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing and Asos, the company said. This week, those listings have disappeared.

The Paris-based company is moving to ban fast fashion, bolstering its position at the upper end of an increasingly competitive market and distancing its business from negative associations with wasteful overconsumption.

“We wanted to reduce waste in people’s wardrobes, and that waste is mainly coming from fast fashion because it has no value, and as a consequence very little resale value,” said Vestiaire president and co-founder Fanny Moizant.

The company is targeting profitability as a growing raft of resale platforms compete for a limited pool of customers. Its focus on bigger-ticket items means more commission per sale, though Moizant said the fast-fashion ban has “nothing to do with the path to profitability” and the company hasn’t calculated how the move will affect business. “It’s a big, value-driven decision,” she said.

From Nov. 22, sellers on the platform won’t be able to list new items from ultra-fast-fashion brands. Those already on the site have been removed.

The move comes as hundreds of brands and retailers have launched their own secondhand marketplaces, often offering store credit to entice new sellers and raising questions about whether the rise of online resale is a solution to fashion’s waste problem or a tool to fuel even more consumption.

Vestiaire, whose investors include French luxury conglomerate Kering, has sought to position its business as an antidote to consumers’ worst shopping habits.

“The biggest problem of our industry…is overproduction and overconsumption,” said Moizant. “We need to take a stand.”

Over the next three years, Vestiaire plans to extend the brands banned from its platform, working with an external consultant to establish a robust set of criteria, including metrics like product quality, carbon footprint and supply-chain working conditions. The company expects new regulations on product labelling in the works across Europe to help give more visibility into the data required to pull this off.

The resale platform is promoting the ban as a way to encourage more responsible consumption. But the move also removes an outlet that would help extend the life of low-cost garments that are often disposed of after minimal use.

To address this tension, Vestiaire is looking to press European regulators to take a stronger position in cracking down on the mountains of clothing waste generated by the fashion industry every year. “This is really us trying to change the industry and move the needle at a bigger level,” said Moizant.

The resale company is working on a policy position paper with The Or Foundation, a charity working in Kantamanto market in Accra, Ghana, one of the world’s largest secondhand markets and the destination of millions of discarded clothes from Western wardrobes.

Vestiaire “are not here to serve the industry, they’re here to challenge the industry,” said Or Foundation director Liz Ricketts. Lobbying for strong regulation is an important part of the company’s efforts because while Vestiaire “can ban fast fashion on their platform… Kantamanto can’t ban it from coming into Ghana,” she added.

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