Earlier this month Pretty Little thing and their creative director Molly Mae Hauge announced that Pretty Little thing is launching a resale app, allowing customers primarily to sell their own used PLT items, along with others. Now you may think that as a lover of second hand fashion I would be jumping for joy at this but sadly I see this as the greenwashing tactic it is. So let's talk about that.
"This platform encourages sustainability and encourages people to shop for pre-loved and recycled pieces. It's something that no one's expecting PLT to do, which we're really really excited about" - Molly Mae

Except it's not really encouraging sustainability, with a brand that makes super fast fashion not built to last, and it's not unexpected as a marketing tactic either.  

Fast fashion brands trying to capitalise on sustainability with "recycling" schemes is a tactic as old as... sustainability becoming a hot topic. A few years ago H&M started putting reycling points in stores so shoppers could dump old unwanted clothes in exchange for vouchers to get new ones, Shein also recently launched a scheme similar to this and it's a marketing tactic. Designed to increase sales and encourage shoppers to buy more while making them feel less guilty for getting rid of old clothes and buying new ones. And, as I talked about in my recent post about hauls, a whole lot of donated clothing worldwide ends up in Landfills in the global south rather than being genuinely recycled.

A resale app is a slightly different thing than these other tactics, and is arguably better because users are selling to other users, who will hopefully wear these clothes, rather than putting stuff in a box to go who knows where. But it's still a greenwashing tactic designed so that Pretty Little Thing have some sort of "sustainability" marketing stance that means they don't have to actually change anything about their current business model, which is inherently unsustainable, and encourage people to buy more PLT in the process.

Here are a few reasons PLT is incredibly unsustainable and unethical as a brand (something a resale app isn't going to solve):

  • They put 100-150 new items on their site every single day, with clothes not built to last
  • They sold dresses for as little as 8p in their black Friday Sales
  • 89% of their clothing contains virgin plastic, with 57% of their items made from entirely plastic [1]
  • Large parts of their  "sustainable"/"recycled" collection is made from 50% polyester
  • There's no information on their site about where they source their raw materials, where their clothes are made, and who makes them
  • They scored a measly 20% in the Fashion Transparency index in 2021 [2]
  • In 2020 they were found to be paying garment workers in Leister as little as £3.50 an hour, with parent company Boohoo Group paying Pakistani workers 29p an hour [3]
If you want more detail on the ethics and sustainability (or lack of) from PLT I have written about them before

It's honestly a joke that they have several pages on their site dedicated to greenwashing sustainability claims when the biggest thing they could do for the environment is to make less clothes, make better clothes, and more towards an actual circular model.

Plus as Tolmeia pointed out on twitter, while Molly Mae is talking about this disrupting the fashion industry and being the first app of it's kind apps like Depop, Vinted, eBay and much more already exist, who's primary function is to generally sell used clothes and aren't connected to a massive fast fashion brand. 

Tolmeia also described this campaign as "PR offsetting" which is a great term for it. While PLT gets back press for their working conditions, lack of genuine sustainability, protests at their latest fashion show, and Molly Mae's comments about how we "all have the same 24 hours in a day" (tell that to your garment workers on 29p and £3.50 an hour), they do this to boost their credibility without changing their business model at all.
Even in the press release Molly is talking about their being "too much stuff" in her wardrobe she doesn't wear and that's part of why she's doing to be selling it on this new app and doesn't then talk about buying less in the future or waste or anything? That sounds like pushing the same fast fashion narratives and not about slowing down and consuming more sustainable? This app will be linked to a customers existing Pretty Little Thing account so they can sell stuff PLT know they've purchased. This isn't about shopping and consuming less this is about having a specific resale market for PLT and keeping the brand as relevant and desirable as possible. Molly Mae talked in the same interview about wanting PLT pieces to be timeless and worn again and again and while I appreciate the slight nod to something more sustainable PLT are not making clothes right now that do that, or marketing that genuinely reflects that.

So how do you resale sustainably?
Just to be clear to round this off, I'm not saying don't sell your old clothes or buy second hand online, it's definitely a more sustainable way to enjoy fashion but PLT aren't bringing anything new to the table, and are doing this as a way to make more money, keep their brand relevant, and sell more clothes while their business is in no way sustainable. Here are some alternatives to this app:
  • Shop and sell using existing marketplaces and apps designed for second hand like Vinted, Depop, eBay and even places like Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree
  • Attend in person clothes swaps and second hand clothes sales, and swap with pals
  • Try selling at local flea markets and car book sales
  • Learn to upcycle, and modify clothes that you no longer love for less waste.
That way you can still enjoy second hand fashion without supporting a fast fashion giant's greenwashing.


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