The resale space is evolving, and growing, at a rapid pace. Consumers are attempting to make more intentional and sustainable buying decisions and, in turn, brands and retailers are considering how they can adapt to align with these new behaviors. One company that is helping retail organizations make the leap is thredUP.
While thredUP offers its own ecommerce shopping experience, it also is the technology that powers the resale platforms for some of the world’s top brands, including J. Crew, Kate Spade and many more. As a result, the company has a unique finger on the pulse of the resale market and the consumer audience driving this particular sector’s growth: Gen Z.
That is why for our panel on Gen Z and Gen Alpha, we wanted to bring in an expert who could provide commentary on how these emerging consumers are shaping the future of the industry…and we’re thrilled that Tanya Brinich, Senior Director of Resale-as-a-Service (RaaS) Client Success at thredUP, is joining us!
Tanya is responsible for building and growing scalable resale experiences for thredUP’s RaaS brand partners – from Clean Out loyalty programs to white-label resale shops. She is a seasoned ecommerce strategy and client success leader focused on sustainability and new business models that bring value to both consumers and brands. Prior to joining thredUP, Tanya held positions at Gap Inc., Ingenuity Foods & Kearney. Below, she shares more insights into her line of work and takeaways from some of thredUP’s latest work, including the Recommerce 100.
Retail Innovation Conference & Expo (RICE): How do you explain your job / line of work to others who are not in the retail industry?
Tanya Brinich: thredUP’s Resale-as-a-Service® (RaaS®) business powers resale programs for over 40 brands and retailers such as J.Crew, Kate Spade, American Eagle, Tommy Hilfiger, and more. RaaS helps brands meet consumer demand while also creating an opportunity to attract new customers, drive revenue and meet sustainability goals. I lead our client success team so I work as a thought partner to sustainability, marketing & digital teams at brands to grow their programs and meet their circularity goals.
RICE: What is the most rewarding and exciting part of your work?
Brinich: I love working with clients and their customers to solve problems. A big part of my job is collecting client and customer feedback and using it to influence our product roadmap. I love being able to share new features with our RaaS clients, especially when it’s been designed based on their direct input. It’s also really exciting to see a brand meet their goals with their resale program. For example, we’ve heard from several clients that launching a Clean Out program has helped them engage existing customers and reach new audiences. I love hearing about those specific wins!
RICE: How is thredUP supporting consumers and retailers who want to implement more sustainable and ethical practices?
Brinich: thredUP’s mission is rooted in circularity. We’ve set out to inspire a new generation of consumers to think secondhand first and extend the life of clothing so they end up in closets and not landfills. We ultimately believe that resale has the potential to cut new clothing production and reduce carbon emissions.
For consumers, we make it as easy as possible to buy and sell pre-loved clothing. Our Clean Out service is the most convenient and simple way to clean out your closet and do good for the planet. Consumers can also shop value, premium and luxury brands all in one place, at up to 90% off estimated retail price. We conducted our second Life Cycle Assessment last year which found that buying and wearing secondhand clothing instead of new reduces carbon emissions by an average of 25%.
One of the top reasons retail executives tell us they want to get into resale is to be more sustainable. We are proud to work with dozens of brands who view their resale program with thredUP as a key component of their overall sustainability and ESG strategy, including J. Crew, Madewell, Tommy Hilfiger and Reformation. We are also hyper-focused on tracking the impact of branded resale programs and bringing accountability to the industry in an era of greenwashing. Our Recommerce 100 index is a comprehensive review of brands and retailers with dedicated resale programs (including brands that don’t work with thredUP). The Index is meant to shine a light on these programs’ potential impact on the planet in an effort to keep the industry accountable.
RICE: How are new consumers, especially Gen Zers, driving future innovation and change in retail and in your sector specifically? What key behaviors should retailers know?
Brinich: Younger generations, especially Gen Z, are driving the growth of secondhand. Eighty-three percent of Gen Z have shopped or are open to shopping secondhand apparel. They are resale natives. Secondhand is considered mainstream, and they even view it as a default shopping experience that’s both common and familiar. Our 2023 Resale Report found that nearly two-thirds of Gen Z says they look for an item secondhand before buying it new.
Gen Z is also one of the most environmentally conscious and digitally savvy generations. They are actively looking for ways to lessen their impact on the environment, and more than half are more likely to shop with a brand that offers secondhand alongside new. However, what I find interesting is that there can sometimes be a disconnect between their sustainable values and their consumption habits (they shop a lot of fast fashion!). At thredUP, we want to help consumers make shopping choices that are in line with their sustainable values. We stay committed to educating consumers on fast fashion’s impact and offering consumers the great deals, variety, and fun that make fast fashion so attractive.
RICE: How is thredUP partnering with clients to ensure resale experiences are designed for Gen Z and their unique preferences?
Brinich: Every brand is different. For that reason, we work with and encourage brands to weave resale into their native shopping experience so that it feels authentic to them. There are many ways for brands to stay authentic to their own narrative and voice while pushing the boundaries on innovative resale strategies. American Eagle is a great example of this.
American Eagle has been a closet staple among teens for decades, and the brand has a true understanding of its customer – how they shop and what they value. To coincide with the launch of its online resale shop, RE/AE, American Eagle released a Snapchat feature allowing users to view the secondhand collection through an augmented reality shopping Lens. A mix of secondhand and vintage pieces were displayed throughout the virtual space for users to explore. Each product linked customers directly to ae.thredup.com for a seamless check out experience.
More broadly, we are always talking to brands about their social strategies and how to communicate their resale programs as part of their overall sustainability vision to customers.
Influencer campaigns on TikTok and Instagram are popular ways to communicate the “how it works” of resale programs.
RICE: What are you most excited about for the Retail Innovation Conference & Expo? What speakers are you excited to see and what are you excited to learn more about?
There are a couple of sessions on the future of marketplaces that I’m excited to attend. There is a lot of innovation happening in that space both in resale and beyond. I’m also interested in the session on Coach’s digital & physical engagement strategy – that’s top of mind for many of our clients.
Want to get more perspectives on Gen Z from Tanya Brinich and other experts across the retail realm? There’s still time to get your All-Access Pass to the Retail Innovation Conference & Expo! Register now and join nearly 4,000 of your executive peers to dig into the topics and technologies shaping the future of connected commerce!