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The Next Economy
eBay UK’s ‘Imperfects’ Marketplace Gives Flawed Fashion Items a Second Chance

The platform features items from over 100 high-street and high-end designers at up to 60% off. All items are considered new, but feature minor defects that would prevent brands from selling them in stores at full retail prices.

eBay UK has launched Imperfects — a marketplace for apparel brands to sell clothing, shoes and accessories with minor defects at discounted prices, to keep previously “unsellable” items out of landfill.

The platform features items from over 100 high-street and high-end designers — including adidas, Fila, Gucci, Nike, The North Face, Off White, Puma, Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney and Timberland — at up to 60 percent off. All items are considered new, but feature minor defects such as a small scuff, a missing button missing or a loose thread — or even qualify as ‘imperfect’ because they were used for display purposes.

Items come straight from the factory with defects, while others simply did not meet the manufacturers strict quality standards. For shoppers, all imperfections are clearly labelled in the listing with accompanying photos.

“With growing financial pressures and the climate crisis continuing to be at the forefront of consumers’ minds, we’re proud to launch Imperfects as another avenue to help keep fashion items out of landfill,” said Jemma Tadd, head of fashion for eBay UK. “It’s often the fashion items that may have not made the ‘cut’ and failed quality assurance checks [that end up in landfill]. As a result, customers would not have had the opportunity to purchase the items.”

eBay’s global 2022 Recommerce Report found that while financial reasons remain the primary motivator for buying resale itesms, 42 percent of eBay customers also cited environmental concerns and a hope to reduce waste. And new data from the marketplace shows that UK shoppers are becoming increasingly conscious — searches for ‘preloved clothes’ have multiplied nine times in the last year and searches for ‘used dress’ are up by 156 percent.

Simon Payne, co-founder of eBay UK seller Sole Responsibility, added: “Imperfect clothing, while perhaps not being able to be sold at retail price by brands, still deserves a space in someone’s wardrobe. eBay’s new online destination will continue to save thousands of high-quality fashion items from going to waste too soon and help the conscious-minded consumer get their hands on in-demand brands.”

The resale industry has been experiencing steady growth as consumer values and environmental ideals align — thredUP’s 2021 Resale Report estimates that the secondhand clothing market will double in the next 5 years, to reach $77 billion. As a result, more brands are looking to get involved and platforms are vying for market share.

Demand from conscious consumers is one thing fueling retailers’ embrace of resale and takeback programs: Patagonia has long been a leader in encouraging more circular consumption, urging customers not to buy anything from its stores if they don’t really need it; and launching Worn Wear — its repairs, returns and resale platform — in 2013. More recently, companies including Levi’s, The North Face, Arc’teryx, REI, Eileen Fisher, COS, Madewell and others have followed suit with repair-and-resell schemes of their own — joining the ranks of UK and European companies such as Barbour, Mud JeansHiut Denim and Nudie Jeans.

Rent the Runway recently joined thredUP as a fully fledged resale site, increasing thrifters’ access to previously hard-to-find, secondhand luxury items. And last month, Vestiaire Collective acquired Tradesy to create a resale monopoly that spans multiple continents. Together, the two will boast a 23 million membership base, with 5 million items for sale — representing $1 billion in gross merchandise value.