100 billion items of clothing are made every year and yet three-quarters of them end up in landfills. Let’s be frank – most of us have clothes in our wardrobe we no longer wear – or even never wore – but we hang on to them. This may be for emotional reasons such as nostalgia or guilt or maybe we just don’t have time to take them to the charity shops or upload them to E-bay. This is where the pre-loved clothes platform Thrift+ comes in. FRANK talks to their co-founder Poppy Beer about how they make buying and selling second-hand clothes, seamless.
Poppy, how did the Thrift+ idea come about?
As a consumer, I spent a lot of time struggling to work out which clothes were sustainable.
I didn’t have much time to go to charity shops or to research eco-fashion.
I believed that we needed to use more of what we already have rather than creating new ‘sustainable’ brands. I started thinking about fashion re-sale and shortly after this, I met Joe (Thrift+’s CEO) who had already been working on the idea behind Thrift+ for around a year.
What does Thrift+ do?
Re-selling with Thrift+ is simple. You order a ThriftBag, fill it up, and return it for free. Our team does all the processing, photography, and shipping from our warehouse, saving you time and effort.
When something sells, our sellers raise money for their chosen charity and earn credits to spend on Thrift+ second-hand fashion or vouchers. Shoppers get a smooth shopping experience with lots of choices, great prices, and 30-day returns.
As a business, what were the key factors in getting it up and running?
The big challenge for Thrift+ is the operations, and that’s why I joined Joe as his co-founder. My background is in technology and operations, and so I could bring my experience to help tackle the challenge of handling thousands of unique items every month. Before I joined Joe at Thrift+,
I decided to test out the service by placing an order. It never arrived because my order had been missed in the system. It was clear that we needed robust technology to help the business to work more efficiently and scale up and that’s what I bring.
How long has it taken to build the team and grow the business?
We believe Thrift+ can be a big business and we are expanding our technology team to build our product, from our pricing algorithm that suggests the best price for second-hand clothes, to our app that helps customers register their ThriftBags.
You have to love clothes to be in this business. Were you pre-loved shoppers, already?
Absolutely – I always tried to borrow or shop second-hand where I could.
What are your feelings about the state of the fast fashion industry? Do you think the world is making the switch to a more sustainable future?
Fast fashion has a vast environmental impact. We aim to show that there are more sustainable ways to provide people with great clothes, but at a fraction of the environmental cost.We see lots of positive movement in the fashion industry, with agreements like Textiles 2030 pulling players across the industry together to create change.
In the next few years, I expect to see the percentage of second-hand, rented, or swapped clothes in our wardrobes grow. The whole fashion industry is moving towards circularity, which is very exciting and will help lower fashion’s footprint from today’s staggering 10 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions.
Talk us through what the customer gets out of Thrift +
If you shop on Thrift+, you get a choice of around 200,000 items of quality clothing at great prices. You also can shop and give, raising funds for charity with every purchase, and feel good about the fact that your purchase gives an item of clothing a second life. As a seller, all you have to do is send us a ThriftBag and you can raise money and earn credits by selling things that were sitting unloved in your wardrobe.
How much fun is it receiving these bags and sifting through for treasure?
We get some amazing pieces and it’s very exciting when we receive a real gem. A couple of years ago, we got a donation of £150,000 worth of clothes from a mystery donor – we raised a huge amount of money for charity through selling them!