Why brands should embrace second hand

Richard Hurren, vice president of European retail at Levi’s, discusses the brand’s new concept store, which focuses heavily on recycled and repaired goods, and explains why companies should be making more sustainable decisions around their products

Second hand shopping is no longer the preserve of musty charity shops and crowded flea markets. Ikea has just announced its first used furniture store, Cos has launched a re-sell platform, and Levi’s has unveiled a concept store stocked with vintage, repaired, reimagined, and recycled denim. Oxfam’s Second Hand September pledge has also been hugely successful, attracting 62,000 sign ups in 2019, and landing Michaela Coel as the face of the campaign this year as well as opening a pop-up charity store in Selfridges. Platforms such as Thredup and Vinted, which give people a marketplace to sell on their unwanted items, are also growing in popularity.

It all suggests that there’s something of a revolution underway, which is seeing increasing numbers of people turn to used clothes as a more conscious way of shopping, and an alternative to the pernicious influence of fast fashion. People have been buying vintage for years, but this is perhaps the first sign of brands genuinely embracing the movement.

For Levi’s, an approach like this is nothing new. Richard Hurren, the company’s vice president of European retail, says the brand has been taking a sustainable approach for years – from its supply chain through to store development and engagement with customers. “We’ve been around for a long time, and who doesn’t have a pair of jean shorts they’ve cut down, or a jacket they’ve taken the sleeves off,” he says. “So much of that has happened over the years that it’s always been part of our DNA – that consumers will do that and reimagine and tell different stories.”