Each week, the Open Thread newsletter will offer a look from across The New York Times at the forces that shape the dress codes we share, with Vanessa Friedman as your personal shopper. The latest newsletter appears here. To receive it in your inbox, register here.
Hello and happy Friday. Today’s conversational topic is what my peers and I used to call “used clothing,” also known as secondhand clothing and occasionally consignment, which then became vintage clothing, but which is now apparently officially known as the Resale Market.
You know something is a big deal when it becomes its own market. Time to pay attention!
After all, I mean “big” literally: According to a report released last week by thredUP, a resale site that is part of this emerging Resale Market, the whole used clothing sector in the United States alone could reach $41 billion by 2022. Nine million more of us bought used clothing in 2017 than in 2016. That’s a lot of new chickens.
I also think it is a really good thing.
After all, one of our biggest issues currently is what I like to call the Glut of Stuff, most recently evinced by H&M’s $4.3 billion worth of unsold goods. In my perfect world, as anyone who reads this knows, we would all buy much less, and better, but given that fast fashion seems to have trained us all to want new stuff all the time, and acknowledging it is impossible to put the genie back into the bottle, isn’t it better our new stuff actually be … old stuff?
(By the way, thredUP resold 340,000 pieces from fast-fashion brands last year.)
Patagonia has figured this out, which is why it created what it calls its “worn wear” program, in which you can bring your Patagonia item in and have it refurbed and receive a credit to get different Patagonia gear, which keeps consumers all in the family, keeps the product under the control of the brand and keeps everyone happy, because it contributes — here comes another good term that you need to work into your vocab! — to the “circular economy.”
Given the growth of resale, you have to wonder why every brand doesn’t do the same, instead of letting another retailer profit from their brand name. Just imagine the possibilities. Louis Vuitton Reluxe? Gucci Re-naissance?
It seems like an obvious brand extension. I’d shop there. Wouldn’t you?
Anyway, the report makes good reading, especially the graph on which brands have the most resale value. I recommend it, as well as this piece about an Indian jeweler on the lam — one of my favorites for the week — and this inside scoop on the official N.F.L. cheerleader uniform rules. Plus take some time to catch up on all the men’s wear designer moves, which have been CRAZY. Have a good weekend.
Liza Minelli Goes Marie Kondo: Divesting herself of a trove of bugle beads and showbiz memorabilia, the actress and singer is putting more than 1,900 items from her designer wardrobe and extensive archives of Hollywood ephemera up for auction in May, including a bowler like the one that she wore in the 1972 film “Cabaret.” Read the story.
Q: I’m confounded by the tags on silk scarves. I am rarely without one, and I wear mine knotted and tied to chase chills with a collarless T-shirt/sweater combo. Many brands sew a name tag and content label into the rolled edge, which I find annoying and scratchy and too visible, but removal would cause the scarf to fray. As a lover of vintage, I’m also aware that ‘with tag’ often adds to the value of a garment. Advice? — Joni, Fredericksburg, VA
A: This seems like such a simple question, but turns out to be 1) a problem literally everyone has, including Parisian friends who are dedicated to wearing a silk scarf knotted at their throat or around their handbag, and 2) extremely hard to solve. Because you are exactly right: Those tags are a big pain in the neck, plus they often stick out in unsightly ways. And you are also right: They increase the resale value of any scarf when intact.
So what’s a frustrated person to do?
One colleague suggested carefully picking the label out with embroidery scissors, though noted that this doesn’t always help when the edges are rolled. In the search for an answer I emailed Hermès, the silk scarf experts, to see what they advised. Their answer pretty much boiled down to “don’t,” but if you have to, use “great care” and “nail scissors.” You can also, interestingly, bring any Hermès scarf to an Hermès store, and the tailors there will remove it for you, a service that suggests they have a certain number of clients who request this.
However, given that Hermès scarves are not in the cards for most of us, I also wanted to pass on another solution, which may be the best one, though it does require a bit of work (and organization).
It came from Cameron Silver, the founder of the Los Angeles vintage store Decades, who acknowledged that a scarf without a label could lose 30 percent of its resale value (they then say it is “attributed to” X brand) UNLESS you do “what some die-hard fashionistas do: Delicately remove the label, place it in an envelope with either a photo of the item or a written description of the item, and create an actual fashion file. Think of it as the Dewey Decimal system of fashion.”
Then, when you want to resell the scarf, you just bring the envelope with the object. Voilà! — VANESSA FRIEDMAN
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