Culture Sustainable Fashion How Stella McCartney Is Encouraging People Not to Buy New Clothes By Melissa Breyer Melissa Breyer Editorial Director Hunter College F.I.T., State University of New York Cornell University Melissa Breyer is Treehugger’s editorial director. She is a sustainability expert and author whose work has been published by the New York Times and National Geographic, among others. Learn about our editorial process Updated December 13, 2018 © Used with permission from The RealReal. Used with permission from The RealReal Share Twitter Pinterest Email Culture History Travel Sustainable Fashion Art & Media Holidays Community With a renewed partnership between the fashion label and resale consigner The RealReal, McCartney is coaxing consumers into a circular economy. Like most retail industries that rely on consumers to keep buying more-more-more, much of the fashion world is the same. New seasons, new trends, new “it” colors – we are presented with all the latest must-haves, while last year’s clothes linger in the closet and even worse, find their way to the enduring abyss that is the landfill. Case in point: Closets in the United Kingdom play home to an estimated $46.7 billion worth of unworn clothes. Meanwhile, the average American throws out 81 pounds of clothing every year; leading to some 26 billion pounds of textiles and clothes in landfills. Given that the clothing and textile industry is one of the largest polluters in the world, second only to oil, it’s obvious that the current model has to change. Maybe one of the most efficacious changes would be to eliminate fast fashion. But in the meantime, here’s another idea: Embrace a circular economy by buying second-hand clothes – which is where Stella McCartney and resale consigner The RealReal come into the picture. McCartney and The RealReal have had a partnership to drive consumers to participate in a circular economy through consignment – a partnership that has proven so successful that they have just announced they will be extending it through 2019. For those unfamiliar with The RealReal, it’s the beloved-by-many online consignment site (with brick and mortar stores in New York and Los Angeles) where customers can sell and buy previously owned high-end apparel. The offerings are vast, everything is authenticated, and the process of both selling and buying really could not be easier. The partnership provides incentives to help keep Stella McCartney items out of landfills by giving them a second life through resale. The partnership has yielded great results year over year, with The RealReal consignors of Stella McCartney items increasing by 65 percent and the number of Stella McCartney items consigned increasing by 74 percent. “Moving from reducing our negative environmental impact to making a positive impact requires all of us to change our mindset and leverage solutions that will make fashion circular and eliminate waste. The partnership with The RealReal created an easy and impactful solution for our customers to participate in a circular economy. We look forward to growing the partnership in 2019,” says McCartney. In promoting resale, McCartney defies the conventional corporate model of enticing buyers to buy new things – how novel is that?! But it comes as little surprise from this brand. Since starting her label 17 years ago, McCartney has been the wonder-kid of sustainable fashion innovations. She has never used leather or fur in her designs. And beyond a commitment to ethical values, the company is unusually careful with resource use and environmental impact, from design to store practices and product manufacturing. Another thing I love about this partnership, and The RealReal in general, is that they are redefining what it means to wear second-hand clothes. While thrifty, resourceful, and creative types all know the beauty of a thrift shop or flea market, now there’s a whole new generation of fashionistas shopping consignment, people who previously would have never worn something previously owned. The SoHo store is like being at very comfortable Barney’s, there’s a café and I’ve even seen women shopping with champagne in hand. I mean, thank heavens we’ll always have our good old musty thrift shops, but businesses like The RealReal open up the market to a new kind of shopper. That the prices are so much lower than retail also puts well-made and long-wearing luxury items within reach of consumers who may not be able to afford them otherwise. Through its consignment of women’s fashion alone (they also deal in men’s fashion and home goods), The RealReal has offset the energy and greenhouse gases equivalent to 65 million car miles. What’s not to love? Throw in a discounted Stella blouse otherwise destined for the landfill and it feels like this should be the future of shopping. For more, visit The RealReal and see what Stella McCartney are up for sale.