Jun 18, 2020
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Farfetch launches online Sustainability Calculator, stresses eco appeal of pre-owned

Jun 18, 2020

As fashion businesses focus on what the retail world will be like post-pandemic, luxury e-tailer Farfetch is launching an online tool to help its customers track just how the fashion pieces they’re buying are impacting the environment. 


The fashion footprint tool known as the Sustainability Calculator can show shoppers the overall impact of specific materials used in the pieces they’re purchasing and will also highlight the sustainability boost that buying pre-owned fashion will offer.

Using the tool means that a customer could find out, for instance, that a kilo of linen can produce 15kgs of carbon and use more than 2,000 litres of water. And it suggests that consumers should look out for certain eco certification badges to avoid this impact.

The launch comes with a report that Farfetch has published in conjunction with the London Waste and Recycling Board that dives deep into the behaviour of consumers in the UK, the US and China. 

The report shows how secondhand pieces can reduce demand for new items by an average of almost 60% and can also reduce waste by a kilo per purchase. Each pre-owned purchase could potentially save more than 3,000 litres of water and 22 kilos of carbon dioxide.

And the pre-owned message seems to be getting through internationally. A survey for the report found 38% of consumers saying that more than half of their wardrobe is made up of pre-owned items, with the numbers saying so actually being as high as 51% in the US and 42% in the UK, although only 21% of Chinese consumers agreed. 

Those surveyed also said they bought an average of eight pre-owned items last year.

Most (60%) buy in-store, with the highest percentages being in the US and UK. But 40% buy online, and here, China is in the lead with 58% of consumers going online for their pre-owned items. 

And of the second-hand pieces consumers buy, 49% are high street brands while 35% are premium labels and only 16% are luxury names. The average spend per item is US$59 in America, $88 in China and $47 in the UK. 

The company’s research also showed that rarity is a key part of the appeal of secondhand pieces for Chinese consumers, while Britons and Americans are driven by affordable pricing. Other (but less important) reasons for buying pre-owned include their environmental impact and a good past experience.

This report and the new tool may seem like a bold move for an e-tailer that derives most of its business from selling new pieces, but it has also moved into resale in recent periods. It currently operates its SecondLife resale service and also has a donation service in a link with Thrift+ that encourages its customers to donate pieces to their favourite charities.

The launch of the new tool comes as the firm’s customers increasingly say they not only want to buy into brands making a positive impact on the planet but would also avoid buying brands seen as been out of step on sustainability issues.

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