Episode 195: Exploring The Future of Secondhand Resale with Jake & Yulia of Treet

What if we could use secondhand resale as a way to push brands toward making higher quality, longer last clothing? And what if resale could be more equitable for everyone involved?  In this episode, Amanda is joined by Jake and Yulia of Treet.  We will discuss how helping brands create their own resale platforms could benefit customers, the planet, AND the brands themselves. 

Also, in this episode, most brands are at crossroads: try to compete with the ultra fast fashion brands like Shein and Cider, or sort of “rehabilitate” their approach to making clothing by selling stuff that lasts longer and is better quality.   Will they try to compete with Shein (and fail) or choose the more ethical, sustainable path forward? And how can resale be a part of pushing fast fashion brands in a better direction?

Be the first to hear all of the details about where, when, and how Episode 200 is happening: join the mailing list.

The March webinar/hang out session is happening on Thursday, 3/28. Want to join us? Register here.

Behind the Seams

If you want to share your opinion/additional thoughts on the subjects we cover in each episode, feel free to email, whether it’s a typed out message or an audio recording:  [email protected]

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Welcome to Clotheshorse, the podcast that….


I’m your host Amanda and this is episode 195.  Today I have not one, but two guests for you! Jake and Yulia from Treet are here to talk about how online resale can be more equitable for everyone involved, while also motivating brands to create higher quality product that has longevity for resale. Treet is not a standalone resale platform like say Poshmark or ThredUp, but rather provides resale functionality for various brands.  They work with all kinds of small brands including Nooworks, Boyish, and Girlfriend Collective to create their own brand-specific resale sites.  And this has benefits for customers, the planet, and these brands, too! We’ll be talking all about that in our conversation.


Before we get into that, there are so many announcements/updates to share with you all.


#1: Just a reminder that Episode 200 of Clotheshorse will be a live-streaming extravaganza, happening on Thursday, April 18th on YouTube! We will be filming and recording it live at The Candy Factory in Lancaster. It’s free for everyone, and that was a very intentional decision on my part.  Clotheshorse is nothing without its community, and I didn’t want anyone to be left out.  I chose YouTube because it is an app that anyone with a smart phone, tablet, or computer can access.  And it is free to use!  


This episode will be part AMA, part retrospective.  And that’s where you come in!

Because this episode will also include video, we want to see videos from all of you: sharing your favorite Clotheshorse episode, what you’ve learned along the way, or any other thoughts you have about slow fashion and why it matters to you!  You can also just ask me a question.   If video is not your thing, you can send a recorded audio message instead.  And if you really hate the sound of your voice, you can send me an email instead. This is going to me a multimedia extravaganza! 


Any videos or audio messages must be submitted by April 1, because Dustin and I need time to edit and mix in preparation for the live episode. So don’t snooze! Get those submissions in soon! You can send your video or audio message to me via email, [email protected]. Do not submit via DM.

Over the next month, I will also be sharing polls and other ways you can participate in the episode.


And if you’re interested in being the first to hear all of the details about where, when, and how it is all happening, you can sign up for the “live episode” mailing list using the link in the show notes.  Please note that I will not email you other stuff, only the details about the live episode and other upcoming ways to participate.  

#2: We have settled on some dates for the Clotheshorse Jamboree here in Lancaster, PA this summer. August 16-18! We are still in the very early stages of planning this, so stay tuned for more updates. I will also be putting out a quick survey to get an idea of how many people would like to attend because that number kinda dictates the size of the spaces we need to rent.  Keep your eyes peeled for that in the coming weeks.  But mark your calendar now! August 16-18. Activities will include a Project Runway style craft challenge using secondhand materials collected by me, slow fashion bingo, some educational presentations, breakfast at an Amish Smorgasbord, an episode of Clotheshorse with a live studio audience, and lots of high quality fun times together. If you are interested in being part of the planning committee, drop me an email!


#3: The next Clotheshorse hang out/webinar will be happening on Thursday, 3/28. The topic will be “how to talk to others about slow fashion.”  As with last month’s webinar, participation is free, but of course, if you have a good time and learn something new, I encourage you to support my work by buying me a ko-fi!.  You can find the link to register in the show notes. Just like the last time, there are only 100 spots available, so don’t procrastinate.   There will not be a webinar in April because there is just too much going on that month! In addition to the live episode, I am going to Tempe, Arizona at the end of the month to speak at Behind the Seams, a part of Eco Fashion Week!


Okay, did I cover all of the announcements? I think so…


So before I jump into my conversation with Yulia and Jake, I want to dig a little bit deeper into something I discussed last week, and that’s the crossroads that fashion and really any consumer product industry are at right now. I also made a video about this topic for Instagram and TikTok last week, but there is so much more detail that I can’t fit into a short video. So I’m going to talk about it here. And I promise you–just hold on to your hats–that this actually ties into my conversation with Yulia and Jake!


So in last week’s episode, I mentioned that Swedish textile recycling company Renewcell had filed for bankruptcy.  You may have not heard of this company, but this was a big blow for a lot of us orking in the sustainability space. In fact, we had our weekly Fashion Act meeting just hours after the announcement, and the mood was pretty glum.


What Renewcell has been doing is pretty incredible: fully recycling cotton and viscose textiles/garments into new fabric, without adding any new virgin fibers along the way.  Meanwhile, any polyester recycling happening right now (it’s very small scale) requires adding new fibers into the mix because poly fibers lose their integrity in the recycling process.  And furthermore, poly fibers can only be recycled once, if at all.  And once again, actually polyester recycling is pretty minimal right now because it’s expensive and the results aren’t great. Most of the “recycled” fabrics you see are made from plastic bottles.  That’s generally not seen as a great solution because one, we already have a way of recycling bottles in to new bottles, so we don’t need to divert them elsewhere. And furthermore, the world as a whole should be moving away from single use plastic water bottles, so why are we turning them into fabric? It’s also a process that uses an incredible amount of energy along the way.


Renewcell’s process removes all of the zippers, trims, labels, and dye from cotton and viscose garments (basically any cellulosic plant fiber, ideally items that are a least 95% cotton), breaks the textiles down into cellulose pulp called Circulose (to make viscose, lyocell, modal, acetate, or other types of regenerated fibers (also called man-made cellulosic fibers). Then these fibers were turned in yarn or woven into fabric.  The end product was high quality clothing and textiles, breathable and biodegradable. All without the addition or production of any virgin fibers. It’s a big deal. This technology could save hundreds of millions of trees every year, which are being cut down to make viscose and other “man made cellulosic” fabrics.  


Even Renewcell’s factory is secondhand–a former paper mill that required very little modification, and the entire factory runs on renewable energy.  The company was even able to hire the former paper mill employees who had lost their jobs.  So it’s a good story all around.  


And out of the gate, brands like H+M and Levi’s signed on to buy fabric from Renewcell. But a year later, the math just wasn’t mathing for Renewcell. Brands were placing orders, sure, but they weren’t placing enough orders to keep the business running.  They were ordering just enough for their relatively small “sustainable” collections, but not enough to support this emerging technology.  And yes, I think the people working on the teams at these brands had the best intentions (I have been a part of those teams myself), but they were held back in terms of the scope of what their best intentions by the metrics around profitability, sales, and cost that are dictated by the executives of these brands. And the thing is: brand new polyester or viscose is currently cheaper than Circulose (or really any natural fiber).  We talked about how important fabric cost is when meeting the margin targets set by these companies.  Circulose wasn’t so expensive that it would affect the prices customers pay for clothing in any significant way, but even a quarter or a dollar more to make a garment using better fabric often means that garment will not meet the margin target dictated by the brand.  And we know that those high margins lead to lower quality fabrics being used, because those margins help cover endless sales and discounts, returns, free shipping, and all of the garments that are made but never sold.  If any of that sounds new to you, you must go back and listen to the “why new clothes are kinda garbage” series.


When it comes to what will happen next to Renewcell: well, the company is looking for buyers/investors, so all hope is not lost.  And I hope that someone signs on to keep their work going.  Because right now Renewcell only has one factory, but if recycling textiles in this way became the norm, it could replace the kinds of fabrics we are being offered now.  Scalability (aka true textile recycling being the norm) would bring down prices even more.  And surely the technology would improve, with other fabrics being added to the mix.  And over time, with the pricing coming down, there would be no need for these brands to continue to source cheap polyester and viscose.  So the use of  resources like fossil fuels (needed for polyester) and trees (needed for viscose) would decline. If brands stopped using polyester, we might see a decline in microplastics pollution. Less synthetic fabrics creating a toxic mess when they break down in the landfill. And in general, we as wearers of clothing would be offered more breathable, comfortable fabrics with longevity.  It’s all a good thing.


But it doesn’t happen until these big brands sign on to use Circulose. The company can’t grow and open more facilities if brands aren’t writing bigger orders. And right now, they are ordering just enough to have something to brag about in marketing emails about their commitment to sustainability and new sustainable collections, right?

But funnily enough (and maybe only slightly haha funny if you love some schadenfreude),  Renewcell isn’t the only company having business problems right now. It’s a lot of the fashion industry, with big brands across the board from URBN (the parent company of Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, and Nuuly) to H+M to Revolve to Zara posting decreased sales and other metrics that concern investors and shareholders.  


Why? Well, you have to remember that all of these brands adopted the fast fashion model after 2008 to not only stay in business, but to also continue posting growth in sales and profitability year after year after year.  And it worked–well, kinda–but now it’s not working so great, thanks to the arrival of ultra fast fashion (what I call fast fashion 3.0)  in the form of Shein, Temu, Cider, AliExpress, and lots of sellers on Amazon.  The companies are able to offer clothing even cheaper, even faster, and with an almost infinite set of options.  I mean, Shein launches 5000 new styles EVERY DAY.  It is selling dresses as cheaply as $2.85, with lots and lots of options under $10.  


Any retailer with stores, warehouses, and corporate offices can’t compete with that kind of pricing.  And furthermore, they have to pay duties on the stuff they import, while Shein, etc don’t have to do that.  It’s basically impossible for brands to compete with Shein.


Right now the fast fashion brands are struggling because they are losing customers in two groups:

  • Those that opt to shop from Shein and the other fast fashion 3.0 brands because they want low prices, ease of shopping, and nearly infinite options.
  • And those that are fed up with the low quality offered by fast fashion, those that are thinking about the impact of all of these clothes…and they are shopping secondhand or from ethical brands, makers, etc. Maybe they are even making their own clothes! And yeah, this has an impact on these businesses. Think about how we have stopped shopping so much. We aren’t the only ones. It is making a difference.


So basically these brands are at a crossroads:

  • They can either try to compete with Shein (and fail). They can’t keep up with the pricing offered by Shein, no matter how they try to cut expenses by reducing staff (yeah, that’s why you see almost no one working in any store you visit right now) and cutting back other expenses.  And they can’t offer 5000 new styles every day, unless they want to get super serious about stealing designs. Shein gets away with it on a much larger scale because of its byzantine corporate structure, which makes it impossible to hold the company legally liable for anything.  US, Canadian,  and European companies could actually face some legal bills.
  • or they could go in a completely new direction by leaning into higher quality stuff, reducing the number of new styles, slowing things down so they can get the fit and details right, truly offering clothing in more sizes that actually fit, and working in a more sustainable ethical way, using recycled fabric from Renewcell, etc.


If I looked at a brand like, say Urban Outfitters or Free People, here is what I would say to them:

If we could get these brands to make higher quality, longer lasting product…This is actually a MORE sustainable approach because if people have better clothing options, they won’t have to buy as many new clothes. WHOA just one major way to mitigate the environmental impact of overconsumption! And these clothes could actually live longer by moving on to their next owner on the resale market, rather than being unwearable and worn out after a few wears.  


So how do we get brands to choose not to compete with Shein, but rather go this more sustainable route? I mean, part of that is pressure that comes from us. By telling them what we want, by not shopping from them until they get it right.  But it also can mean giving them financial incentives to make these changes. And one financial incentive is helping them see how resale could actually benefit them as a new revenue stream. Right now, a brand sells you something, and if you don’t return it, they get to pocket the profit from it.  Yes, I literally just described how retail works and I’m sorry because you already know that.

But if they make clothing that lasts a long time, and it can be resold on their platform, they get to make money TWICE off of the same garment. Maybe even three times! And this is an industry that unfortunately prioritizes profits over anything else. So maybe, just maybe, one way we get them there is by showing them resale could be lucrative for them.


See, I told you this would tie into my conversation with Yulia and Jake, so let’s jump right in!

Coming soon (technical difficulties)

Want to Support Amanda's Work on Clotheshorse?

If you want to share your opinion/additional thoughts on the subjects we cover in each episode, feel free to email, whether it’s a typed out message or an audio recording:  [email protected]

Clotheshorse is brought to you with support from the following sustainable small businesses:

Thumbprint is Detroit’s only fair trade marketplace, located in the historic Eastern Market.  Our small business specializes in products handmade by empowered women in South Africa making a living wage creating things they love like hand painted candles and ceramics! We also carry a curated assortment of  sustainable/natural locally made goods. Thumbprint is a great gift destination for both the special people in your life and for yourself! Browse our online store at thumbprintdetroit.com and find us on instagram @thumbprintdetroit.

Picnicwear:  a slow fashion brand, ethically made by hand from vintage and deadstock materials – most notably, vintage towels! Founder, Dani, has worked in the industry as a fashion designer for over 10 years, but started Picnicwear in response to her dissatisfaction with the industry’s shortcomings. Picnicwear recently moved to rural North Carolina where all their clothing and accessories are now designed and cut, but the majority of their sewing is done by skilled garment workers in NYC. Their customers take comfort in knowing that all their sewists are paid well above NYC minimum wage. Picnicwear offers minimal waste and maximum authenticity: Future Vintage over future garbage.

Shift Clothing, out of beautiful Astoria, Oregon, with a focus on natural fibers, simple hardworking designs, and putting fat people first.  Discover more at shiftwheeler.com

High Energy Vintage is a fun and funky vintage shop located in Somerville, MA, just a few minutes away from downtown Boston. They offer a highly curated selection of bright and colorful clothing and accessories from the 1940s-1990s for people of all genders. Husband-and-wife duo Wiley & Jessamy handpick each piece for quality and style, with a focus on pieces that transcend trends and will find a home in your closet for many years to come! In addition to clothing, the shop also features a large selection of vintage vinyl and old school video games. Find them on instagram @ highenergyvintage, online at highenergyvintage.com, and at markets in and around Boston.

St. Evens is an NYC-based vintage shop that is dedicated to bringing you those special pieces you’ll reach for again and again. More than just a store, St. Evens is dedicated to sharing the stories and history behind the garments. 10% of all sales are donated to a different charitable organization each month.  New vintage is released every Thursday at wearStEvens.com, with previews of new pieces and more brought to you on Instagram at @wear_st.evens.

Deco Denim is a startup based out of San Francisco, selling clothing and accessories that are sustainable, gender fluid, size inclusive and high quality–made to last for years to come. Deco Denim is trying to change the way you think about buying clothes. Founder Sarah Mattes wants to empower people to ask important questions like, “Where was this made? Was this garment made ethically? Is this fabric made of plastic? Can this garment be upcycled and if not, can it be recycled?” Signup at decodenim.com to receive $20 off your first purchase. They promise not to spam you and send out no more than 3 emails a month, with 2 of them surrounding education or a personal note from the Founder. Find them on Instagram as @deco.denim.

The Pewter Thimble Is there a little bit of Italy in your soul? Are you an enthusiast of pre-loved decor and accessories? Bring vintage Italian style — and history — into your space with The Pewter Thimble (@thepewterthimble). We source useful and beautiful things, and mend them where needed. We also find gorgeous illustrations, and make them print-worthy. Tarot cards, tea towels and handpicked treasures, available to you from the comfort of your own home. Responsibly sourced from across Rome, lovingly renewed by fairly paid artists and artisans, with something for every budget. Discover more at thepewterthimble.com

Blank Cass, or Blanket Coats by Cass, is focused on restoring, renewing, and reviving the history held within vintage and heirloom textiles. By embodying and transferring the love, craft, and energy that is original to each vintage textile into a new garment, I hope we can reteach ourselves to care for and mend what we have and make it last. Blank Cass lives on Instagram @blank_cass and a website will be launched soon at blankcass.com.

Gabriela Antonas is a visual artist, an upcycler, and a fashion designer, but Gabriela Antonas is also a feminist micro business with radical ideals. She’s the one woman band, trying to help you understand, why slow fashion is what the earth needs. If you find your self in New Orleans, LA, you may buy her ready-to-wear upcycled garments in person at the store “Slow Down” (2855 Magazine St). Slow Down Nola only sells vintage and slow fashion from local designers. Gabriela’s garments are guaranteed to be in stock in person, but they also have a website so you may support this women owned and run business from wherever you are! If you are interested in Gabriela making a one of a kind garment for you DM her on Instagram at @slowfashiongabriela to book a consultation.

Vagabond Vintage DTLV is a vintage clothing, accessories & decor reselling business based in Downtown Las Vegas. Not only do we sell in Las Vegas, but we are also located throughout resale markets in San Francisco as well as at a curated boutique called Lux and Ivy located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Jessica, the founder & owner of Vagabond Vintage DTLV, recently opened the first IRL location located in the Arts District of Downtown Las Vegas on August 5th. The shop has a strong emphasis on 60s & 70s garments, single stitch tee shirts & dreamy loungewear. Follow them on instagram, @vagabondvintage.dtlv and keep an eye out for their website coming fall of 2022.

Country Feedback is a mom & pop record shop in Tarboro, North Carolina. They specialize in used rock, country, and soul and offer affordable vintage clothing and housewares. Do you have used records you want to sell? Country Feedback wants to buy them! Find us on Instagram @countryfeedbackvintageandvinyl or head downeast and visit our brick and mortar. All are welcome at this inclusive and family-friendly record shop in the country!

Located in Whistler, Canada, Velvet Underground is a “velvet jungle” full of vintage and second-hand clothes, plants, a vegan cafe and lots of rad products from other small sustainable businesses. Our mission is to create a brand and community dedicated to promoting self-expression, as well as educating and inspiring a more sustainable and conscious lifestyle both for the people and the planet. Find us on Instagram @shop_velvetunderground or online at www.shopvelvetunderground.com

Selina Sanders, a social impact brand that specializes in up-cycled clothing, using only reclaimed, vintage or thrifted materials: from tea towels, linens, blankets and quilts.  Sustainably crafted in Los Angeles, each piece is designed to last in one’s closet for generations to come.  Maximum Style; Minimal Carbon Footprint.

Salt Hats:  purveyors of truly sustainable hats. Hand blocked, sewn and embellished in Detroit, Michigan.

Republica Unicornia Yarns: Hand-Dyed Yarn and notions for the color-obsessed. Made with love and some swearing in fabulous Atlanta, Georgia by Head Yarn Wench Kathleen. Get ready for rainbows with a side of Giving A Damn! Republica Unicornia is all about making your own magic using small-batch, responsibly sourced, hand-dyed yarns and thoughtfully made notions. Slow fashion all the way down and discover the joy of creating your very own beautiful hand knit, crocheted, or woven pieces. Find us on Instagram @republica_unicornia_yarns and at www.republicaunicornia.com.

Cute Little Ruin is an online shop dedicated to providing quality vintage and secondhand clothing, vinyl, and home items in a wide range of styles and price points.  If it’s ethical and legal, we try to find a new home for it!  Vintage style with progressive values.  Find us on Instagram at @CuteLittleRuin.