H&M Canada launches Rewear resale platform

Fashion retailer H&M Canada is making a further push into the second-hand clothing market with the launch of a new customer-to-customer resell platform called H&M Rewear. Launching on Sept. 7, the platform enables Canadians to sell any used clothing item from any brand via a dedicated online site.

“[W]e are constantly adapting and evolving based on our customer’s wants and needs. In Canada, the resell market is just starting to become big,” said Frédéric Tavoukdjian, country manager for H&M Canada, in an email interview.

According to a Forbes article citing data from the market research company GlobalData, the second-hand clothing market is growing 11 times faster than traditional retail, and is expected to be worth more than US$84 billion—more than twice the value of the fast fashion industry (US$40 billion)—by 2030.

While popular resell platforms like Poshmark and ThredUp are already operating in Canada, Tavoukdjian said many consumers are still using platforms like Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji, which don’t offer users  a simple or seamless experience. “We wanted to provide our customers with a reliable and simple platform for this high demand need,” he said.

H&M said the Rewear platform will help prolong the lifespan of garments, push the idea of circularity, and help contribute to a more sustainable future, which it has identified as one of its top priorities. It is powered by Reflaunt, a technology company that enables consumers to resell past purchases on brands’ individual ecommerce platforms.

Canada is the first market in H&M’s global network to launch Rewear, although the company has made other investments in the fast-growing second hand clothing market. It currently owns around 70% of the online clothes reseller Sellpy, a business-to-consumer platform that has sold more than nine million garments since launching in Sweden in 2014, according to Reuters.

It also introduced a clothing rental service in the U.S. called One/Second/Suit this year, and last year, its non-profit H&M Foundation introduced Looop, a recycling system that disassembles existing garments and refashions them into new items.

The company also introduced garment collection in 2013, allowing consumers to drop off any brand in any condition at its stores, either for resale or recycling.

“Although we offer garment collecting in our stores, we felt it was important to find a second way for our customers to recycle their clothing,” said Géraldine Maunier-Rossi, head of marketing for H&M Canada, in a release. “With H&M Rewear, we are not only offering a place for Canadians to recycle and reuse products, but we are giving them a platform to become active participants in circularity and give a second life to their favourite styles.”

According to a release, H&M Rewear will include “unique services” designed to ensure a smooth and efficient user experience. It will offer a first picture retouch on all listings to create what it describes as a “premium visual experience,” and will also advise sellers through a price recommendation algorithm to help them determine the most competitive price and optimize their chances for successful selling.

H&M will take a 15% commission from each sale on Rewear, which Tavoukdjian said will go towards operating the site. It will offer sellers two forms of payment: Direct deposit, or an H&M gift card that comes with a 20% premium. It will also give customers the ability to resell past purchases through a “smart button” located on shoppers’ order history page.

H&M is one of the pioneers of fast-fashion, characterized by trendy clothing known for being cheap and disposable. Its website lists items that start as low as $4.99 for a kid’s T-shirt or $6.99 for a woman’s crop top. The company reportedly sells three billion garments each year, and has been identified as a major contributor to the global problem of fashion waste.

According to the Recycling Council of Ontario, the average Canadian throws away 81 lbs. of textiles each year, with North Americans sending 10 million tonnes of clothing to landfill. Estimates say that the fashion industry is responsible for anywhere from 5% to 10% of all global carbon emissions.

But sustainability is one of H&M’s top priorities, said Tavoukdjian. “We are always looking for new ways to close the loop with fashion, which is why we believe H&M Rewear is a great initiative,” he said. “Not only is it helping to close the loop, but we are getting Canadians to be active participants in circularity by giving their garments a second life. We will continue to look for and create new ways to drive sustainability in Canada and around the world.”

Marketing for Rewear is expected to appear later this year, said Tavoukdjian.

Chris Powell