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The BoF Podcast: The Rise of the Resale Economy

Vestiaire Collective’s Max Bittner and Depop’s Maria Raga discussed the opportunities and growing pains of the burgeoning resale market at VOICES 2019.
Maria Raga and Max Bittner speak during BoF VOICES | Source: Getty Images for The Business of Fashion
By
  • BoF Team

“Fashion is more than just the last season… The life cycle of a product doesn’t end at the primary sale,” said

’s Chief Executive Max Bittner at

A message that holds particular poignancy as eco-conscious consumers seek out sustainable solutions in the form of re-commerce — a market set to exceed $50 billion in 2023 according to GlobalData.

In conversation with BoF's Senior Sustainability Correspondent Sarah Kent at VOICES 2019, Bittner was joined onstage by Depop's Chief Executive Maria Raga, who explained why the social selling platform has become a cult hit amongst Gen-Zs and Millennials who are looking to buy or sell pre-owned clothes.

“When you think about the activity that’s on Depop, you see super young, creative people building businesses and creating trends,” she said. “At the end of the day [they] are making second-hand cool which again contributes… to making the resale market grow quicker.”

This highlights a shift in the narrative around pre-owned garments as more than 50 percent of consumers are directing their attention to sustainable consumption, a concept that would have seemed far-fetched several years ago, according to Raga.

Mobile-first platform Depop — hailed as one of the fastest growing start-ups in resale — has amassed over $100 million in funding, while users have sold over $500 million worth of clothing since its inception in 2011.

The re-commerce model has grown exponentially and will continue to do so, according to Vestiaire Collective's Bittner, who highlighted the increase in dialogue about sustainability and circularity in the fashion industry, "which mirrors what's happening in society" as more individuals begin to question their own consumption and how they can effect change.

When you think about the activity that's on Depop, you see super young, creative people building businesses and creating trends.

Despite an increasing consumer appetite for re-commerce, popular resale platforms have come under fire following a number of recent missteps. For example, a BoF investigation into Depop uncovered allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate messaging.

Raga addressed resale’s growing pains. With 90 percent of the mobile-first platform’s users under 26 years old, “trust [is] a critical thing that we need to maintain on the platform and we have absolutely zero tolerance to bad behaviour.”

But Bittner encouraged the audience of global thought-leaders, executives and entrepreneurs to consider resale’s positive contribution to the fashion industry, both in terms of sustainability and circularity. Re-commerce also has potential to transform an industry that “defines itself by becoming more and more exclusive,” by connecting buyers, sellers and brands across the globe to make luxury more accessible, he said.

To learn more about VOICES, BoF's annual gathering for big thinkers, visit our VOICES website, where you can find all the details on our invitation-only global gathering.

Subscribe to BoF Professional for unlimited access to BoF articles, plus exclusive benefits for members. For a limited time, enjoy a 25 percent discount on the first year of an annual membership, exclusively for podcast listeners. Simply, click here, select the Annual Package and use code PODCASTPRO at the checkout.

To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions, or speaker ideas please e-mail podcast@businessoffashion.com.

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