“Are pre-loved sites damaging for indies?” Industry insiders weigh up the pros and cons

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By Amanda Slattery, founder, Maya Maya in Kendal

“The move towards buying and renting pre-loved fashion is gaining momentum daily and that’s not a bad thing. We all have to be conscious of the negative effect of fast fashion and waste. As a boutique owner selling new clothing, I still believe there is a place in our world for both new and pre-loved fashion. At Maya Maya (mayamaya.co.uk) I offer a complete circle experience. I have created a private Facebook group called Veni Vidi Amari where people can buy and sell pre-loved goods. It’s a free service that we earn nothing from; I facilitate the buying and selling by authorising the posts.

“However, in some instances, pre-loved is moving onto another level. Some consumers will now openly visit boutiques, such as mine, and try on a number of dresses. They have no intention of buying anything. Instead, they’ll take pictures of their favourites and then post on certain Facebook groups asking members if it’s available to buy ‘pre-loved.’ Often these dresses are being pre-ordered before they’re even worn, sometimes a second or third time. One such group is less than a year old and already has 135k followers. Obviously, this will reduce the new market considerably and occasionwear retailers need to be aware and act accordingly.

“If brands want to protect the new market, they need to start controlling it. Many well-known labels such as Mint Velvet offer a pre-loved section on their websites, giving shoppers the opportunity to re-sell their goods. I’m doing my small bit by monitoring the posts that come through my pre-loved group and attempting to control what’s bought and sold. I have also contacted some brands to discuss this but there has been very little interest shown so far.

“Our plans? We are dropping mother-of-the-bride outfits for a more multi-functional approach to event dressing. My advice to other boutiques is to take the mirrors out of your fitting rooms.”  


By Abi North and Mandy Weetch, co-founders, Neon Leo

“In 2022, clothing sales doubled from 100 to 200 billion units a year while the average number of times an item was worn decreased by 36 per cent overall. When you look at the impact on the environment, fast fashion generated more CO2 emissions than aviation and shipping combined. So, it’s not really a case of ‘why should we be using rental sites?’ but, rather, ‘why aren’t we doing more of it?’

“Our rental site Neon Leo (neonleo.co.uk) was born out of the need to be more sustainable and environmentally conscious in our fashion choices. We have always felt strongly that both independent fashion retailers and rental clothing companies can exist side by side. There definitely doesn’t need to be a ‘them and us’ scenario.

“People will always want to own their own clothes. Owning possessions is a human behaviour that we can trace back to the stone age – and that’s definitely not going to change. But as fashion trends now move so quickly, we need to make sure shoppers have the option to rent and not just buy. We would always encourage our customers to buy from independent boutiques for staple wardrobe items and pieces they’ve fallen in love with. But we ask consumers to think twice before buying a dress for a single event, for example, and then never wearing it again.

“Renting an amazing outfit brings our customers joy – they can borrow items they wouldn’t usually be able to afford, while simultaneously saving the environment. Most of the clothes on our site have had previous lives from a vintage Burberry trench coat from the 1960s to a 2010 Rixo occasion dress. 

“We feel that investing in slow fashion though rental, alongside carefully thought-out boutique purchases, really is the future.”