Update: it looks like the Remade line has disappeared from thredUP’s site without any notice.
In one of the most appalling greenwashing angles I’ve ever seen, Thredup just released their “Remade” line. Contrary to its name, Remade is not remade at all. Rather, it’s made with new fibers – some items with virgin polyester – with a premise that these items can be resold to Thredup for 40% of the original price, where they can then be resold on the site.
There are a number of troubling components to this campaign. First, its name.
“Remade” isn’t remade
Companies like Eileen Fisher actually remake some of their older garments into new designs, which is a great way to use up textiles that still have life in them, or, in the case of Hackwith Design – who prioritizes sustainable and deadstock fabrics – buy back older styles to resell as an incentive to their customers. And indie brands like Christy Dawn use deadstock fabric , which serves a similar purpose of keeping old textile inventory out of landfills.
Thredup’s “Remade” line , in contrast, makes no mention of recycling or repurposing other than in the name itself.
They also purport to be encouraging the “circular economy” by making “high quality” clothing. But that’s not what the circular economy is!
The Circular Economy
The circular economy‘s primary aim is to design out waste. This means that, for something to qualify as circular, attention must be paid to the sustainability of the design process, which includes things like pattern making, raw materials sourcing, and the environmental costs of production. The item would be expected to either biodegrade or be fully reintegrated into the business model. If a business does not consider the end stage of the garment – even if they emphasize reuse – they are not properly adhering to the ideals of the circular economy.
Thredup’s “Remade” line, with its claims of quality, may be able to be resold and reworn, but inevitably, products will eventually degrade in quality or go out of fashion and head off to the landfill.
“Remade” is Aggressive Greenwashing
It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. No ethical production. No sustainable textiles. No true circularity. No stated intention of improving the business model over time.
Meanwhile, they overtly use highly niche sustainability language to sell their products.
I’m not normally one to do “takedown” style posts, but this really upsets me!
I, too, work in the secondhand industry, but Thredup operates at a scale I can’t even fathom. They sell literally millions of secondhand garments on their website, so they know in a tangible way how big the textile waste problem is. Secondhand and textiles recycling operations are only able to repurpose about 16% of what gets tossed by American households. Contributing to that waste when you are in the business of dealing with that waste is a baffling and unnuanced move.
It is irresponsible for a company operating in this space to produce new garments without regard for true sustainability and then to market them as if they are revolutionary.
P.S. Whitney Bauck at Fashionista covered the launch of Remade a few days ago with back and forth from employees, if you’re interested in getting more behind-the-scenes detail. It should be noted, however, that the “buy back guarantee” is based on items meeting Thredup’s quality standards which, you’ll know if you’ve ever tried to sell to them, amount to highway robbery.
Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.