Sustainability is a nice-to-have for independent schools? Think again. It’s fundamental, and here are 3 reasons why, based on the latest business thinking. –
“Many people …
Is your school missing the resale opportunity?
Resale is growing at least 20 times faster than the primary market. A confluence of industry-level, consumer and environmental trends are coming together to transform the industry. For the first time the ultimate bargain is also the most sustainable, ethical, conscious choice available. However, there is enormous room for innovation, particularly in niche categories such as school uniforms.
The rise of circular fashion
Second-hand is no longer the preserve of those of us sheepishly rifling through the racks of charity shops. It has become the aspirational choice – a fashion statement in itself – because it says, “I’m fashion-savvy and planet-conscious”. Some of the loudest proponents of pre-loved are the most glamorous names in the luxury business, from Anna Wintour to Kim Kardashian. Where second-hand resale events in the UK used to be attended by a distinct tribe of second-hand fanatics, they are now over-subscribed and booked up by mainstream shoppers. The phenomenal adoption of Depop, a second-hand online marketplace in the UK, which has more than 13 million users sending 85 million messages to each other each month, shows how fast things are changing.
One of the sub-categories fuelling this growth is children’s wear. The issue of kids constantly out-growing their clothes is as old as time itself, but thanks to the growth of digital and mobile marketplaces there is now a wide selection of online resale brands specifically catering to eco-conscious parents. Demand for second-hand children’s clothing is also being spurred on by the luxury market which is tapping into the opportunity to monetise out-grown items. London’s prestigious Selfridges has launched a new pre-loved luxury children’s collective, in partnership with Burberry, Gucci and others.
The trickle-down effect from high-end concept to high-street demand is already showing. In March 2020, eBay reported annual sales growth of 76% in their second-hand children’s clothing category. And there are already signs that the post-Covid-19 ‘new normal’ – characterised by greater resourcefulness, community-mindedness and more conscious decision-making (as reinforced by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed in May’s majlis)- is accelerating these trends.
However, one of the most relevant opportunities in children’s second-hand clothing has yet to be realised.
School uniforms are a prime opening for resale and ‘circular’ fashion solutions. There are many sound business arguments for this. Children require, on average, a new school uniform every year due to out-growing and wear-and-tear. For parents this is a costly business, particularly in the private school sector where exclusive uniform outfitters are often the only accepted option by the school. UAE parents spend an average of Dh2,000-Dh3,000 on a set of school uniforms every single year. The ability to buy second-hand could save parents substantial sums. Similarly, damaged or worn uniforms could be repaired and re-sold as good as new.
There is a financial opportunity for schools as much as for parents. Schools who wished to offer a repair and resale service by partnering with a third-party service provider, could bring in new sources of revenue by taking a commission on each sale and repair. The opportunities for schools to play a role in saving parents time and money whilst supporting the reduction of clothing diverted to landfill is a powerful opportunity to build trust. You can almost hear the happy chatter of mums at the school gate discussing how much time and money such a service has saved them. Furthermore, as parents take a greater interest in where and how products are sourced and produced, schools will need to be able to provide transparent answers.
Apparel befitting eco-warriors
How might the idea take off with students? Students represent the most eco-conscious group of all. Across the world, school kids have been ‘striking for the climate’ on their weekends; some have even been boycotting school one day a week to make a powerful statement. They know that their future has the most at stake due to pollution, waste and climate change.
Research shows that today’s school kids are the least concerned about social embarrassment or image when it comes to second-hand clothing. In fact, 80% of them say there’s absolutely no stigma in buying used fashion. The same proportion are expecting businesses and institutions to contribute to solving the planet’s problems. As we know, the seeds of lifelong values and behaviours begin at school.
Offering recycled school uniforms poses an opportunity to bring the best of sustainability to children and families: reducing waste, saving money and embedding resourceful community values. To find out more about our recycled uniforms click here.