We’ve seen a recent rush of major fashion brands to join the resale market – it’s about time! For many years QSA Partners has supported resale as a first step circular business model and it’s fantastic to see it growing in scale. I do have a few questions about where the market is going, though, and whether brands are really getting maximum value from their new resale propositions.

Are you already missing out on the resale market?

There are many examples of thriving resale models and platforms but the last month or so has seen a raft of new brands joining in. This is important, because these brands now clearly recognise it’s essential to have a resale offer, and a recent article in Glamour highlights that many companies realise it’s a savvy move in a market where younger buyers are hunting out high-quality used garments.

Hugo Boss and Joules are now offering resale services, and we’ve also seen Finisterre and Sweaty Betty launch in partnership with a new resale platform called Reskinned.

If your brand doesn’t have, or isn’t currently setting up, a resale business model (or an even more circular one) then you’re already way behind the curve and you need to get moving now.

Takeback vs buy-back?

Some resale models are simply taking back items and selling them on – rather than buying the garments from the customer.  This misses out on understanding the true value of the items and fails to fully reward the customer for taking part: take-back models are relying on the customer’s goodwill…and how is the brand going to ensure that in future?

A truly circular business model functions on the true value of the item and, done properly, shares that value between all the participants. A clear buy-back value increases loyalty in two ways: it ensures you get the garment back and reinforces the customer’s perception that your poducts retain a high value for a long time (and differentiates you from other brands who don’t offer that value.)

Is it really circular?

Buy-back and resale is the first step on the circular journey. The theory is that someone buying a used item will no longer need to buy a new one. We know, from our own previous research, that only some resold items prevent the buyer from purchasing a new item. As many as 1 in 3 resold items are merely additional purchases on top of the new items that customers are buying.

The other side of resale is what the “source” customers do with the money given to them for their traded-in garments. Will they simply spend it on more clothing? Or a flight to the Med? Or something more essential?

Of course, buy-back and resale is an excellent first step for both customers and companies moving towards the circular economy – and for this reason I welcome the lift-off in fashion resale…provided it’s not the only change we see.

What is your brand doing?

Maybe you’re thinking of exploring resale business models, or even something more circular. The truth is, you can’t afford to put this idea on the back burner any longer. 

We’ve helped brands of all shapes & sizes (and sectors) create, launch and scale circular business models, from resale to rental to fully circular.

Get in touch with use at hello@qsapartners.co.uk to see how we can help.

Jennifer Decker/

I enable businesses to reduce their business and product impacts from setting out a sustainability strategy to supporting the delivery of circular business models. Businesses I have supported include High Speed 1 Ltd, Cotton Incorporated, Argent, Heathrow Expansion, Northern Trust Bank, EDF New Nuclear Build, EY, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Defence.

I specialise on working within an organisation which has included my tenure as sustainability specialist at EDF New Nuclear Build and at WRAP developing their Textiles 2030 agreement and produced their 2030 circular textiles pathway working with the major retailers, reuse & recycling businesses and charities.

Prior to QSA, I was an associate director at Mace Group where I enabled built environment clients to deliver their carbon reduction programmes and sustainable construction strategies by setting measurable KPIs and targets; creating tools to monitor; embed performance standards in procurement and communication.

Previously, I led the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan at WRAP setting the 2020 targets, strategy and implementation for the UK clothing industry.

Kristina Bull /

I led our project with Laudes Foundation and ReLondon on the Circular Fashion Fast Forward project that saw us develop circular models with adidas; FW and Farfetch as well as lay the foundations for Ted Baker’s work in this area.

I am leading the development of a fibre specific recycling programme within Europe which will be launched in early 2022.

I am an apparel durability expert with track record of change implementation at Whistles, ASOS, COS and worked with WRAP and John Lewis to produce a durability and quality guide for brands.

I have advised low carbon, resource efficiency and sustainability strategy development at Heathrow and High Speed 1 Ltd, and continue to lead the support work for HS1 through to their participation at COP26 in November 2021.

Before QSA at WRAP I delivered the market engagement and recruitment drive for the WRAP Halving Waste to Landfill agreement in the built environment sector.

Gerrard Fisher /

I have a strong track record in sustainability with a wide range of clients. My original background is in process and chemical engineering so I’ve been in to process and resource efficiency since graduating a long time ago!

I’ve supported circular business model transformation in companies such as adidas, Argos, ASOS, B&Q (Kingfisher), FARFETCH, FW, Samsung, MuJo Fitness and more: I led a team that created WRAP’s original circular business model project called REBus.

I have extensive experience working with electrical and electronic products, and I worked with many major global brands on improving design for durabiltiy and repairabilitly. Examples of projects I led include:

  • Groundbreaking research into the nature of mercury hazards in flat-panel TVs (leading to industry voluntary labelling)
  • Creation of design guides for retail buyers so they could improve the durability (and reduce warranty costs) of their own-brand products.
  • Delivery of communication campaigns that increased e-waste recycling collections by over 40% in target areas.

Through my past work at WRAP and beyond, I’ve also advised a range of governmental and NGO organisations on resource efficiency, ecodesign and circular economy including Defra, BEIS, Zero Waste Scotland, ReLondon and Oxfordshire County Council. I provide technical advisory and independent expert advice to UKRI, the European Commission, the US Government’s Department of Energy.

I get a kick out of helping businesses understand and meet their customers’ needs better - whether that’s through better business models, better product design or better communication and transparency.

This has also led me to take an interest in privacy and data management - which can be a big barrier to people reusing and recycling some of their old electrical stuff. As a result, I set up a business called Astrid to provide cost-effective privacy advice to small businesses so they can better protect their customer information.

Mark Hodgson /

I specialise in the innovation and proposition development of new customer orientated, commercially driven circular and sharing business models to market. I have a particular experience of working on circular models with sectors that are impacted by the change in lifestyles, consumption, digital mobility, electric infrastructure and NetZero, have on place. Examples range from retail; IKEA, adidas, B&Q, ASOS, FarFetch, developers and OEM’s; Landsec & Samsung, mobility; Riversimple, HS1 & Co Cars and authorities; Oxford County Council and Exeter Velocities/Exeter City Council. Across all of these, I have helped deliver the propositions, services, operations and infrastructure to enable deployment.

As a founder and ex-director of a multi-modal shared e-mobility provider of EV cars, e-bikes and e-cargo bikes, I have first-hand experience of the impact and change these business models can have on people and place, through working with clients, local authorities and housing developers.

I understand what processes and techniques to apply, how to encourage growth and change mindsets, and how to build a customer-focused, commercially viable business model that delivers circular and environmental benefits. My background is business development, technology and markets having worked for international companies to local SMEs. I've worked in a wide range of projects from global business propositions, sales as a service, sharing and circular business models, ‘low carbon’ LEP economic strategies, climate change adaptation, renewable energy, clean tech sector development and public sector partnerships to technical research, international development and project delivery management.

Being a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and geographer at heart I've worked on sustainable development projects and film productions in locations in Africa, Asia and Europe.