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Bringing Life Back to Used Clothes: the Rise of “Pre-loved Items”

A recent World Economic Forum (WEF) study presents an alarming truth: the textile industry is responsible for nearly 100 million tonnes of waste annually. This figure is projected to jump by 50% in 2030, translating into more than 2.7 billion tonnes of carbon emission. With this understanding, the fashion industry is shifting, prompting the emergence of a new trend—Pre-loved products.


Statistics from the same report show that people are more conscious of their choice when buying clothes and are willing to buy second-hand products if that means they are contributing to saving the environment. However, another factor is at play: fear of counterfeiting. According to Digimarc, a retail solution company, more than 87% of consumers worry about the authenticity of online goods. This uncertainty translates into ambivalence when it comes to choosing to buy second-hands goods. Therefore, leading global apparel brands have come up with pre-loved products, a way to authenticate used goods to ensure authenticity to buyers. Brands such as Zara, Marks & Spender, Dr. Martens, H&M, and Selfridges are adopting this model. Selfridges even plans to make half of its transactions based on resale, repair, rental, and refills by 2030.


With a technological breakthrough, unprecedented care could be taken to trace the product across its entire life cycle. For example, introducing a circular business model, where digital identification sealed on products is scanned as they pass through each stage of production and selling. Afterward, buyers can sell it back to the clothing brand when the products have served their purpose. Then, the goods will be scanned and authenticated, thoroughly sanitized, and ready to be sold again as a pre-loved items. This eliminates the fear of counterfeiting problems, which has, for so long, been intrinsic to the second-hand goods industry.

With pre-loved goods being more accepted by the market, the projected emission mentioned above could be abated. It goes to show that indeed, saving the environment is everyone’s problem; it takes corporate initiative, enabled by technology and consumers’ acceptance to be successfully pulled off.

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