Skip to main content Skip to footer

Listen to the episode

Wilson Griffin

Wilson has built his career in sustainability spanning the NGO sector, corporate sustainability, and tech entrepreneurship. He is the co-founder and CEO of Recurate, an ecommerce integration that powers branded resale channels that boost traffic, sales, and customer engagement for partner clients.

Jessica Potter

Jessica - a visionary, a sustainability enthusiast, and a co-founder of Used and Loved. Rooted firmly in the concept of a circular economy, Used and Loved is a pioneering search engine offering access to the UK's second-hand marketplaces in just one place. Through her venture, Jessica strives to make second-hand shopping more accessible and convenient.

Joe Metcalfe

Joe is the founder of Thrift+, a pioneering venture addressing the issue of overproduction and under-utilization in the fashion industry. An alumnus of the University of Cambridge and Cambridge Judge Business School, Joe has a rich background in strategy consulting and a passion to revolutionize the way we perceive second-hand clothing.

Image of Kristina Bull

Kristina Bull

Kristina of QSA Partners is focused on working with companies to identify and implement circular business models - working from idea creation, identifying the right model for a company at the right time; developing the customer offer and experience through to identifying project partners to help deliver a circular model.

J.R. Siegel

J.R. Siegel is a sustainability strategist, writer, and business leader. He graduated from Yale University and The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

He is the Senior Director of Product Innovation at Worldly and the author of a sustainability newsletter called Bright Spots. He lives in Seattle with his wife, three small children, and a very silly dog. 

Andy Ruben

Andy Ruben is a Board Advisor, Strategist and the Founder & Board Chair of Trove. He founded Trove in 2012, pioneering the first brand resale program that has since grown into an industry with 150+ global brands operating dedicated programs. Trove powers brands such as Patagonia, lululemon, Levi’s, Gucci and REI with its suite of resale and reverse logistics technology.

Gerrard Fisher

Gerrard of QSA Partners has been working on circular business models for a long time - driving a huge EU-funded project called REBus (over 10 years ago now!) and working with brands and businesses on circular change ever since.

He loves the "lightbulb moment" when clients realise how much better circular business models can be for their companies.

Cynthia Power

Cynthia is a circular-programs expert with 17 years of experience and the owner of Molte Volte. She previously managed EILEEN FISHER Renew for many years before working at tech-resale startup Recurate. She now works independently, helping brands and circular service providers to understand and navigate the fashion circular landscape, including building and scaling resale and reuse programs.

Tune in to find out:


  • How varying marketplace models play out in the re-commerce arena.
  • The incredible potential of technology in revolutionising the second-hand market.
  • The complexities, opportunities, and hurdles that define the re-commerce landscape.
  • The fascinating future of AI, image recognition, and predictive intelligence in re-commerce.
  • The vital role of collective efforts in driving sustainability and circularity within the fashion industry .
  • And much more! 


Episode 3

[00:00:00] Barry O'Kane: Welcome back to Happy Porch Radio, the Circular Economy Technology Podcast. I'm Barry.

[00:00:10] Emily Swaddle: And I'm Emily. Welcome back, listeners.

[00:00:13] Barry O'Kane: This is the third and final episode in our exploring circular tech focused on re-commerce in fashion.

[00:00:23] Barry O'Kane: What are we going to talk about, Emily?

[00:00:24] Emily Swaddle: Big question, Barry. To start off, if you haven't listened to the first two episodes of this mini exploration, go back and listen from the beginning. We dived into a lot of questions, a lot of concerns, had some fantastic guests about re-commerce, so if you're just tuning in now, go back and listen to those two episodes.

[00:00:45] Emily Swaddle: In this episode, we're going to be touching on some of the things that we kind of missed out, some of the things we still have questions about, and some of the things that we've been asked about since the first two episodes were released.

[00:00:56] Barry O'Kane: In episode one, we talked about some assumptions or starting point for the conversation.

[00:01:00] Barry O'Kane: We asked, does re-commerce actually have a positive impact on the fashion industry? And will it help us rethink all of fashion? Is re-commerce economically viable and practical? And crucially, from our point of view, what role does technology play in all of this? So, what did we find? Well, one important theme from the first two episodes is how nuanced and complicated the conversation is and that re-commerce is just one part of this whole circular ecosystem.

[00:01:29] Emily Swaddle: We also talked about how re-commerce isn't just one thing. There are lots of different models. There are lots of different approaches to re-commerce. re-commerce can look like peer to peer resale. We also have managed platforms. And we also talked about brand owned re-commerce.

[00:01:49] Barry O'Kane: And we talked a lot about the technology that enables each of those approaches and how we can really use technology optimising to scale re-commerce.

[00:01:59] Barry O'Kane: And we asked questions about the negative or unattended consequences, both of resale and of technology in that resale. So there's a lot of topics that we've explored. And in many ways, Emily, I think we've found more questions as we go. And so let's explore some of that more now.

[00:02:19] Emily Swaddle: One thing that's become really apparent as we spoke to so many experts in this industry over the past couple of episodes is How much, we're actually in kind of a very particular moment in the history of re-commerce.

[00:02:32] Emily Swaddle: We're kind of in this period of immense change and growth. A few years ago we saw new platforms emerging, new names coming into the industry. Things were sort of starting up. Now it feels like things are maturing. We're in a scaling up phase. We're really gaining momentum and it's a really exciting time to be talking about this.

[00:02:54] Barry O'Kane: At the same time, any period of transition involves a huge change. We talked to, for example, Joe in earlier episodes about how ThriftPlus are having to invent the process or explore a process which doesn't necessarily exist, about how to process secondhand items and optimize them for sale. We talked about some of the technology that Andy and Wilson are building to further optimize that.

[00:03:19] Barry O'Kane: But that period, any period of transition involves a lot of changes. Here's Gerrard and Kristina talking about one of those changes.

[00:03:26] Gerrard Fisher: You've got this real issue at the moment. You know, charity shops, one point of view is that they're, they're depressing market values because they tend to put things on market very cheap, great for a bargain, but there's people going into charity shops, buying up stock and then selling it on platforms for three times the price, it's good business, you know?

[00:03:43] Gerrard Fisher: And, and that's, it's just the emerging marketplace that we're seeing, you know, once that becomes. You know, easier for the charity shops to list things at an appropriate price, for example, and maximise the value they're getting for those donations. It would be a different place.

[00:03:56] Kristina Bull: As long, and as well as those donations being products that are quality that can hold a value, you know, that's another point for charities that they are, because we are having all of these marketplaces, they are taking away the market share of that better quality product.

[00:04:13] Kristina Bull: But I think it is. It's a period of transition. All of these kind of things are going to fall out, but I do think over the next couple of years it will settle down and like Gerrard says, we've been making clothes for centuries, so therefore we've got to unpick all of that. We're wanting to have a re-commerce industry that is perfect today.

[00:04:30] Kristina Bull: Well, that's not going to happen. We need to, there's an element of patience, which in today's life, I appreciate we can't quite cope with.

[00:04:38] Emily Swaddle: I think this example is really handy to consider how much disruption we're talking about when we're talking about this change. And it makes me ask, you know, what does this look like for people who work in this industry?

[00:04:52] Emily Swaddle: What does it look like for people who rely on cheaper clothing from the likes of charity shops? How will the changes, sort of, support the humans behind the industry?

[00:05:03] Barry O'Kane: Something we didn't touch on in previous episodes, but is an interesting observation that people have made is how resale is kind of opening new opportunities and jobs for individuals, for the charity shops as they move to the digitising and obviously for the newer platforms.

[00:05:21] Barry O'Kane: So, for example, one of our guests, Cynthia, recently shared a story of a family business that's built around selling on eBay and they've replaced their corporate jobs with that. So, the opportunities within this transition are many and varied. And there's a kind of potentially exciting ecosystem building around that.

[00:05:42] Barry O'Kane: We can replace some of these linear processes and linear roles and jobs and businesses with more circular-focused ones.

[00:05:51] Emily Swaddle: Yeah, that's a really important side of the growth and the scaling up that we were talking about, that more people are going to be involved in this sector, in this movement, whether that's, you know, through being a user or an entrepreneur, but also being a facilitator in the way that you're saying, Barry, of people that are just involved through their work.

[00:06:11] Barry O'Kane: Something else that's really clear from the conversations we've had is the challenge of innovation and opportunities, I guess, the challenge and opportunities in innovation. So we mentioned Joe's story of building Thrift+ and how he was optimising the process for processing and photography and listing pricing and all the complexity around that and how he was optimising that and then adding technology on top of that. An interesting analogy is to look at renewable energy, where we have the technologies and the beginnings of technologies to produce fossil free energy, and we're beginning to reach the point where that is massively scaling. And we have existing legacy infrastructure, which isn't fit for purpose yet at scale.

[00:06:57] Barry O'Kane: And we've got some technical problems around storage of energy that need solved. I see a similar sort of pattern in circularity and fashion, where we know what the potential solutions are, we have some evidence and some companies who are making this genuine change. And yet we have this system process and culture change which needs to happen to enable all of that to actually have the impact and reach the future that we want to reach.

[00:07:24] Emily Swaddle: Yeah, there's a lot of experimentation going on right now and also that needs to keep happening in order to, I guess, figure out the best route. And to your earlier point, Barry, like, that's what we need more people for. We need people who are, kind of, really focused on those particular individual issues.

[00:07:44] Emily Swaddle: But we also need people who are zoomed out and can see the bigger picture of not just what re-commerce looks like or what the fashion industry looks like, but what the circular ecosystem looks like as a whole. There feels like there's sort of room for everyone, whether you're like specialist or generalist or however you see the problem, there can be space for creativity and experimentation.

[00:08:06] Barry O'Kane: Yes. And we, as we're discussing here, and as we talked about in the previous episodes, there's a lot of complexity, there's a lot of nuance, there's pros and cons, and it feels like a difficult, complex area. But at the same time, this shouldn't deter us from actually doing the work.

[00:08:21] Emily Swaddle: Yeah, like a lot of things when it comes to circular solutions and systems changes, the fact that there's not certainty doesn't mean that we don't do it anyway.

[00:08:33] Emily Swaddle: You know, like an example, might be domestic recycling. I don't know the ins and outs of that. And I'm not even convinced that it's necessarily the best that it can ever be. But I still do it because taking part in that system hopefully leads to the system improving.

[00:08:50] Barry O'Kane: Joe Metcalfe makes an important point.

[00:08:53] Joe Metcalfe: I wouldn't necessarily focus on the difference in impact between a Vinted and a Thrift Plus Managed Marketplace because they're serving different customers and our customers aren't selling their stuff on Vinted. So, I think the important comparison is the likes of Vinted or Thrift Plus versus shopping new.

[00:09:11] Joe Metcalfe: And because of the enormous amount of resources that go into creating new product, and then the enormous amount of transport required to ship new products to the UK and then still the, the transport of that item from the centralised ASOS warehouse to the customer and the X percent returns that happened back and forth.

[00:09:30] Joe Metcalfe: It is overwhelmingly more positive to shop second hand on a platform like Vinted, despite the fact that we still need to ship products to and from people.

[00:09:39] Emily Swaddle: It feels really important to just remind ourselves and our listeners of the immense scale of the destruction caused by the linear fashion industry, particularly fast fashion.

[00:09:53] Emily Swaddle: It's like, impossible, almost, for us to get our heads around the scale of that destruction. And I think that if we could hold that in mind somehow, it brings with it the sense of urgency for this change that we're talking about. And the sense of comparison, I suppose, between the different options on the table.

[00:10:14] Barry O'Kane: Yeah, as humans it is difficult to understand scale, we find big numbers difficult. A billion is just a word. In episode one we'd mentioned that there's around a hundred billion, with a B, new items produced every year, but just to try and make that a little bit more real, if you count out one item per second, non stop, without a break, a million, one million, would take about eleven and a half days, and one billion would take thirty two years.

[00:10:46] Barry O'Kane: So a hundred billion, you know, it's just crazy.

[00:10:50] Emily Swaddle: That's like my whole life. I've just been counting items for most of my life.

[00:10:54] Barry O'Kane: So scale is huge. And then in episode one, we deliberately said we weren't going to talk about the details of that because we could spend the whole series just exploring some of the problems.

[00:11:05] Barry O'Kane: At the same time, if it was just problems, we could say there was problems need fixed and that's it. But it is complex. There are businesses that rely on this. There is a huge ecosystem of people and companies that are optimised to work in this environment, and magically changing overnight isn't possible.

[00:11:23] Barry O'Kane: We can't hide from the problems and the massive downsides to linear fast fashion, and we can't hide from the complexities of the change that needs to happen. But we do have tools and people working on solutions, and so there's where we should be putting our energy, I think. Both as individuals, as citizens, and as businesses.

[00:11:44] Barry O'Kane: Whether we're creating the tools to enable that change, like there's many of the guests we've spoken to, or the brands for whom the linear problems are a threat and circularity offers opportunities. So looking at re-commerce as part of that journey and the technology that's enabling that as part of that change is a pretty powerful place to start.

[00:12:04] Emily Swaddle: And I think that's the important framing for what we're talking about, you know, we, it may sound like over the past couple episodes we've been really picky about re-commerce and other circular solutions that we're sort of critiquing and things, but this reminder of the scale of the problem is kind of here to note that we're not picky because we're not convinced that we need to do this.

[00:12:27] Emily Swaddle: We are convinced, I'm convinced, that we need to make this change, right? But we also want to observe how we can do that with intention and, like, avoid unforeseen circumstances and do it well. And we can't forget that when it comes to some of the problems that might come about through the resale models, or even, you know, other circular models in the fashion industry, like renting or repair or things like that, the issues that arise from that, you know, emissions that come from logistics or, like, operations and things.

[00:13:02] Emily Swaddle: We kind of also have other solutions in place that would help with that, you know, like it's not like those things aren't also being looked at to find solutions for those things. There are people who are working on those, reducing emissions there as well and improving those operations. This isn't happening in isolation, as you say.

[00:13:24] Barry O'Kane: So, whose fault is it? One question we were asked is where responsibility lies. As an individual, it can feel very disempowering to be doing small changes. As a sustainability focused brand, fashion brand, it can feel challenging to be changing the industry.

[00:13:41] Emily Swaddle: Particularly when we talk about this huge scale that we're dealing with.

[00:13:45] Emily Swaddle: To revisit the recycling analogy, in the UK, where I live, it feels like there's a bit of responsibility on me, in the household, to make sure I put the right things in the right boxes. And if I don't do that, then the things won't get recycled and that faults on me. In some parts of the Netherlands, recently in some parts of the Netherlands, that has really shifted and actually now they don't have domestic recycling for plastic.

[00:14:10] Emily Swaddle: You just put it all in the same sort of landfill bag because their research has shown that it's actually more efficient to sort that at a later stage once it's been collected from households. So then the responsibility is completely out of the hands of individuals and into the hands of technology being used by the waste sorting facilities.

[00:14:33] Barry O'Kane: Emily, the interesting thing you talked about there is responsibility. So you feel like if you don't put it in the right recycling bin, it's your fault that it's not getting recycled.

[00:14:43] Emily Swaddle: I personally really struggle on this because I kind of believe both things, right? I believe, you know, we all share this planet and we all have to take some level of accountability and some level of responsibility for how our resources are being used and where our waste goes. I really believe that, like, collectively we all need to be tuned into that.

[00:15:06] Emily Swaddle: And I also believe that there's no doubting that these huge multinational brands, they're responsible for so much production and so much waste and have to know where their product is going and the full life cycle of everything that they're producing. And I sort of struggle because I believe both things.

[00:15:25] Wilson Griffin: At the end of the day, the entities that decide what to produce, where to produce it, in what quantities are the brands. Those are the people that are deciding. If the only way, the only method that a brand has to make money, grow revenue, is to sell new products, they are simply going to make as much or more every year so that they can continue to maintain or better grow their business.

[00:15:57] Wilson Griffin: That is what they will do, regardless of what customers do in their part. That is what brands will choose to do. So for me, the key to this entire system is giving brands a way where they can grow revenue without simply making more profit. That's what it all comes down to. If every customer was reselling their item on a secondhand marketplace, but the brands could still only monetise that first sale, it's not going to change a brand's behaviour.

[00:16:29] Wilson Griffin: They're still going to continue to make more every year. Because they're not benefiting. So we have to create a system where brands are benefiting from the second hand sales of their items.

[00:16:41] Barry O'Kane: The point that Wilson finishes on there, that we need to create a system where brands are benefiting is a really key circularity concept.

[00:16:48] Barry O'Kane: We talked in previous episodes of the podcast about aligning incentives. So as you described, Emily, brands have a huge responsibility for the impact they're having from the production of their fashion, and they are building businesses and gaining success from that. So it's completely fair to talk about responsibility, and that is evidenced by legislative moves around APR, for example, or campaigns around waste.

[00:17:15] Barry O'Kane: In order to really incentivise that change, though, this is maybe where things like re-commerce models, can have a major impact as a brand that becomes an opportunity, a business opportunity, as well as an opportunity to tackle some of these problems and beyond just the direct income opportunity from resale.

[00:17:35] Barry O'Kane: We talked in previous episodes about brands building a deeper, different kind of relationship with the users of their clothing, because maybe there's an opportunity to have this two way commerce, transactional relationship and resale, or to open other doors around learning how the product is actually used, physically getting returns back and that feeding into design and opening the door for other models around maybe rental or anything else.

[00:18:02] Barry O'Kane: That to me was what we mean when we say aligning those business incentives.

[00:18:06] Emily Swaddle: Yeah, I have wondered if the re-commerce models that we've explored will be enough of an incentive to brands to do this at the scale that we need. And also, you know, will this re-commerce movement encourage brands away from fast fashion and towards higher quality items that can be sold and resold and still hold their value?

[00:18:30] Emily Swaddle: That was a question that we sort of brought up briefly in one of our previous episodes. and is something that's been brought up in conversations since it's been released? I think it's a really interesting question. Cynthia spoke to the role of buyer demand when it comes to overconsumption.

[00:18:47] Cynthia Powel: A very powerful kind of societal norm that's being created that is all about, you know, having so many things, not wearing things more than once.

[00:18:59] Cynthia Powel: I mean, it's not part of this like social set that I'm in, but I think that there has been a norm created mostly by fast fashion that is all about just like having new things all the time. And so I think that that is the problem. I think overconsumption to me is a problem and then overproduction is a whole other conversation.

[00:19:21] Cynthia Powel: So yeah, I would probably lay overconsumption on, most of it, on fast fashion shoulders. But if that is a behaviour that people are practicing, then I would still say that every time you buy something used, it's better than buying something new. I heard something, I think it was about the UK yesterday on a call, that like the average person in the UK buys like 41 pieces of clothing a year, which I don't know how crazy that is.

[00:19:47] Cynthia Powel: It sounded like a lot, but like that's almost four pieces a month. I don't know, that kind of feels like a lot. So you know, that in itself is an issue, but if they're going to buy half of that used and half of that new, I think that's a lot better than buying all of those new. .

[00:20:00] Barry O'Kane: To your earlier points around responsibility, this is where the individual responsibility can lie or the power of the individual can be to make decisions about what we own and what we buy and how we view what we wear and the stories we tell about that.

[00:20:19] Barry O'Kane: And thinking again about the role of technology in this and our exploration of aligning incentives, in previous episodes, we talked about ease of use and making second hand or re-commerce both fun and easy. And another point we touched on briefly is thinking about our wardrobes as a whole, and there's some technology looking at that.

[00:20:39] Barry O'Kane: So apps that can help manage your wardrobe and potentially in the future, then think about that , as an asset, as a value, maybe you're reselling some of it. All of these things are ways that we can try and explore. Changing the mindset of us as citizens and players in the fashion industry, whether our incentive is purely to push back against all those negative impacts, environmental, social impacts, or whether incentive is as much on price and cost, or whether it's simply about, let's make this easy and cool and fun.

[00:21:13] Barry O'Kane: If we can explore all of that as tools to change, then there is a clear role for re-commerce.

[00:21:21] Emily Swaddle: With all this experimentation, and the complexities, and the responsibility being thrown around. It can often feel like quite overwhelming, all this change, and the mountain that we have to climb in terms of that scale can feel like a lot.

[00:21:36] Emily Swaddle: And that's something that's been reflected back to us as well from previous episodes, is this kind of, oh gosh, this is a lot. Are we ever going to get there? Is it even possible? Andy Rubin gave us an example that might bring some hope.

[00:21:49] Andy Ruben: Much like ride sharing in parts of the world as an analogue when people had access to Uber and Lyft and different ride sharing they tended to own fewer cars and again, I think the parallel is there where cars are expensive. Now, they're worth it when you need transportation but when you live in a city and parking and insurance and everything's really expensive if you've got other means to do it, don't do both. Now, does that hold in all cases? No. And with all consumers? No. But a city like San Francisco reached peak car years ago. And I think that is part of newer models that allowed people to have a better quality of life and more things to wear with smaller closets. And that's what, not just anecdotally, but that data would point out as well.

[00:22:37] Emily Swaddle: It is very reassuring and encouraging, you know, to like keep in mind some examples of ways in which systems that may have seemed completely unshiftable, completely solid, they've changed in recent years, you know, there has been a lot of shifts and holding on to that, I think is a really important part of making sure that we keep the momentum going in these other important shifts.

[00:23:01] Barry O'Kane: I agree. And we also need to be looking at these changes with open eyes. So caveats with the example that Andy gave us are some of the unintended consequences, there's challenges with the gig economy, and you do hear stories of traffic actually increasing in certain areas as all the Uber drivers are driving around looking for lifts.

[00:23:21] Barry O'Kane: We want to make sure that we're looking at positive change and the potential for the direction we want to go in with clear eyes and being able to see and start that journey and then find ways to constantly improve it and to tackle and avoid unintended consequences.

[00:23:42] Emily Swaddle: This Uber example really highlights the tensions of, like, working within a capitalist system to try and make incremental changes to transition. And that's sort of like juggling that we're always talking about of like, okay, do we work with the system as much as we can and just try and make it better in the ways we need it to?

[00:24:04] Emily Swaddle: Or do we just say, there's a whole new system that we need and sort of like, you know, raise it to the ground. Today, I feel like I'm on the side of raise it to the ground. Let's start a revolution. But ask me again tomorrow, who knows where I'll be.

[00:24:18] Barry O'Kane: We had an interesting conversation with Andy and JR about this.

[00:24:21] Emily Swaddle: To put it bluntly, like, working with brands that have got us in this mess in the first place, obviously there's a certain amount of, like, working within the system to improve the system. And what's the benefit of that versus, like, starting a whole new system, I suppose?

[00:24:37] Andy Ruben: Time and scale, and the importance of moving forward faster.

[00:24:42] Andy Ruben: I don't know if, I think that anyone who has built, even a single brand realises what a substantial role brands play in our lives and retailers and commerce. And I think if the reason me personally, the reason I've personally decided this is where I want to put my time is because I've seen customers shift to this relationship with stuff, especially younger customers, where the idea of where people want to go shopping is not the mall, it's thrifting, where it's not just something, you know, used, used to be something you did because you couldn't afford new.

[00:25:20] Andy Ruben: The shift has been so large that these are items that have fun and finding them a story, a lower footprint you feel better about. You can get an aspirational brand for more value. The consumer push behind this way of shopping is something that if we can do that and harness that and use it in the right places where brands can make money, I believe we will get to a better future far, far faster than anything else I'm aware of.

[00:25:48] J.R. Siegel: That was very well said, Andy. The thing I would add is that most of these brands want to grow and they have financial incentives and stakeholders and boards that are pushing them to grow and to the extent that we can substitute revenue from new production, which has a much larger footprint than used product sales, we should do that.

[00:26:08] J.R. Siegel: So I also think it's a yes and where we want to ship them to getting more of their revenue from used products while, Emily to your point, if there are other opportunities, other models, more innovative companies that come up and supersede them, great, but in the near term, let's try to shift how they conduct their business.

[00:26:25] Emily Swaddle: Yeah, I worry that if these brands still hold on to their, like, financial bottom line so steadfastly, which in my mind is kind of what big brands do, no amount of working within the system is going to be enough to get the scale of change that we need. That's my worry and that actually we need a complete shift of priorities, which luckily some entrepreneurs are modelling.

[00:26:53] Barry O'Kane: Things like B Corp and the Better Business Act campaign here in the UK are examples of ways to build business that also tackle the questions you're raising there, Emily. It's also an important point, even from a technologist point of view. We very much look at technology not as an end in itself. But as the vehicle that should help us reach the goals and the impact that we want to.

[00:27:16] Barry O'Kane: What we're really talking about here is how we do business. And I think the same thing holds true for technology. Digital technology is a powerful tool. We've seen the impact on re-commerce and we've seen the challenges and the ways that maybe it can accelerate the unintended consequences. So how we build the technology and the mindset of the people behind that technology is really important.

[00:27:38] Barry O'Kane: Jessica talks about the challenge for her.

[00:27:41] Jessica Potter: It's actually quite a big conflict for us because we are really anti-consumerism, anti-consumption, basically. Like, we don't want people to overconsume and we don't want people to be buying stuff that they didn't otherwise need or weren't already looking for.

[00:27:57] Jessica Potter: So it's something that me and Davey have struggled with, because I understand it that we need to do all of the sales and marketing and stuff like that. The retailers will send out, however, many emails a day to their email list. There's so much vying for people's attention that if we don't keep reminding people that we are there and that this is an option and this, this is really fun, remember , then you know, we can just really easily get forgotten.

[00:28:24] Jessica Potter: But it's just really a struggle because it is against what we believe, but then we want to make the difference. So it's a challenge, definitely.

[00:28:34] Emily Swaddle: I think we spoke about in the very beginning of this exploration, how we know that circular change has to happen. It's about optimising it. And we spoke to a lot of our guests about optimising processes.

[00:28:46] Emily Swaddle: And then like, I start to worry because The linear fashion industry, the linear processes, have been optimised almost to a fault. They've been optimised so much that it's actually got us to the point of overproduction, overconsumption. So I don't want us to fall into that hole again, but just making it a bit more circular.

[00:29:08] Emily Swaddle: I think one of the things that helps us avoid that is remembering that reuse isn't the only part of a circular economy. You know, we all know about the Rs, the reduce, the reuse, the refuse, the recycle, there's a lot of them. And I think it's important to remember that reduce always comes, that's like the first one we talk about.

[00:29:31] Emily Swaddle: And we, in this particular mini series exploration, have been talking about reuse, not because it's more important than reduce, but just because that's where we focused. Then the question is, is that ultimately completely opposed to the aims of brands who are producing the items that we're buying? But I acknowledge that there is a certain amount of necessity of working within the system, even as we're trying to change it.

[00:29:59] Emily Swaddle: You know, I'm willing to be that realistic about this.

[00:30:03] Barry O'Kane: The positive thing is all of our guests on this season are people making that change or working on that change. And it's exciting to see them and a growing movement in the fashion industry, driving that change.

[00:30:15] Emily Swaddle: Yeah. And I think that the growing movement, the involvement of more people is kind of a really key part of that.

[00:30:21] Emily Swaddle: Now, listening to Jessica, we understand it takes so much stamina and perseverance to be innovative and creative in this space. And really the best thing to support that is a sense of community, is a sense of you're not doing this on your own, you're part of a bigger picture. And so that comes down to making sure as many people as possible are involved in the circular economy.

[00:30:43] Barry O'Kane: As we discussed in earlier episodes, if we focus purely on the environmental messaging, we're preaching to the converted. Talking about price widens the conversation further, but that's already happening. And further change can come from things like changing the stories of the clothes that we're wearing, making the experience simpler, easier, and more fun.

[00:31:05] Emily Swaddle: Making it as accessible as possible to everybody.

[00:31:08] Barry O'Kane: And in all of that, technology has the role to play.

[00:31:12] Jessica Potter: When we were just a second hand search engine, that was definitely for the converted and for people that were probably already going to buy whatever it was second hand anyway, but there are people that really need educating and really need helping, like need some guides of like, this is how you do it to help those people feel less overwhelmed about starting it.

[00:31:34] Jessica Potter: I've actually just started doing second hand selling parties. So I'm going, like doing workshops with people. They can come along and bring a bag of stuff. And then I teach them like how to actually list stuff and take the best pictures, best titles and descriptions and things like that, because I think everything is obviously a big circle and there's a positive feedback loop.

[00:31:52] Jessica Potter: So the more people selling stuff, the more people will have choice of buying stuff. And then the more people buying stuff means the more people that sell stuff will list. Blessings.

[00:32:02] Emily Swaddle: I think ultimately everyone that we've spoken to over the past two episodes has been trying to do this, has been trying to broaden participation in the circular economy and trying to expand the audience, the user base, whatever.

[00:32:16] Emily Swaddle: Also everyone we've spoken to has been doing that in a slightly different way and that means that they're sort of opening up to a slightly different audience and that to me is just reflective of like, their personal experience within their work and within their interactions with the fashion industry and re-commerce.

[00:32:35] Emily Swaddle: And it's kind of beautiful, right? That like, everybody can get involved, do their part of, sort of, reaching more people. And that's gonna be what expands us because everyone's coming from their own perspective. And then it's like, what is this community created, patchwork landscape gonna look like once we get everyone's patches sewn in?

[00:33:01] Emily Swaddle: You know, once we get everyone's contributions.

[00:33:05] Barry O'Kane: And that leads to one of the most common things we've been asked, and that's what might the future landscape look like?

[00:33:11] Joe Metcalfe: It has, through the years, become an extremely noisy and crowded space. It actually feels like we've passed the peak, especially as kind of funding for new businesses has kind of dried up a little bit.

[00:33:23] Joe Metcalfe: The number of new startups coming to the fore is smaller. I do think that a lot of the people who exist now will be contributing to the solution and we need to focus on those that now do have expertise, that do have a decent scale, and we need to help fund those to have real impact because, let's remember the new fast fashion brands are selling billions of pounds worth of new clothing, so, to have real, real impact, we need to be thinking at massive scale.

[00:33:48] Joe Metcalfe: For the massive scale that we need in order to have an impact on the circularity of the fashion industry, we're gonna need bigger solutions than that. We're gonna need another three Vinted’s, and we're gonna need Vinted to be 10, 100 times the size of it is now.

[00:34:04] Emily Swaddle: I know, Barry, you felt conflicted about this.

[00:34:07] Barry O'Kane: Yes, I can understand and appreciate Joe's point. Part of the conflict comes from very large organisations. And how it's really difficult to align those incentives that we talked about within really large organisations away from profit maximisation at all cost. And a potential alternative or maybe complementary vision is the idea of networks of smaller organisation and smaller groups.

[00:34:32] Barry O'Kane: And perhaps that being a more circular way to look at it. People like Walter Strauchel, one of the grandfathers of circularity and industrial ecology, talks about that. And how local circular economies in the plural sense is a way to completely rethink the system. Having said that, I completely understand Joe's point. And perhaps that is a crucial way to make change, at scale, and fast enough.

[00:34:57] Emily Swaddle: Yeah, and when we're talking about this, this network of networks, this ecosystem, it's important to remember that not every actor in the ecosystem has the same role. That's something that Joe reflected on when it comes to brands.

[00:35:11] Joe Metcalfe: So there's lots that they can do to facilitate and play their part, but that doesn't necessarily mean they should be running circular business models. It doesn't necessarily mean they should be collecting up all of the clothing that they've sold to their customers to bring them back to a warehouse to try and launch a resale site, actually.

[00:35:28] Joe Metcalfe: Some people will, but if you think about Duracell who produce batteries, they're not experts in recycling batteries. But all the retailers that sell a certain volume of batteries have to have a battery recycling point, which then gets collected by battery recyclers. So, you know, I think we can recognise that parts of the circle are quite linear.

[00:35:49] Barry O'Kane: I really like Joe's point here. It's impossible for one organisation to be entirely circular, we need the system to be circular, or the systems plural to be circular, so we shouldn't expect perfection, and as you were talking about earlier, Emily, the idea that everybody and every organisation can contribute and can be a successful part of this systemic change.

[00:36:11] Emily Swaddle: Yeah, and I feel like that would probably distribute responsibility more evenly and then also maybe it would be less likely that we could fall into that trap of, sort of, accidentally promoting overconsumption again. There's a really nice sort of quote that people say about zero waste, about, you know, we don't need a hundred people doing zero waste perfectly, we need a million people doing it imperfectly.

[00:36:34] Emily Swaddle: And I think that, kind of, plays here as well.

[00:36:38] Barry O'Kane: Yes. And the wonderful thing about all the conversations we've had in this exploration is how we've seen different ways that everybody can contribute. Jessica's story is inspiring about changing and growing the size of the resale audience. Joe working on the mechanics and actually turning the operations of resale into a success in a very specific way.

[00:37:02] Barry O'Kane: And then Andy and Wilson with Trove and Recurate enabling brands to do re-commerce effectively.

[00:37:13] Barry O'Kane: I think there's three things we can take away from this exploration. First, that it's not whether we should be doing resale or re-commerce, but rather let's do it and work out how we should do it. And we've explored a lot of the how in this with our guests. So it feels like supporting and being part of that is the obvious takeaway and doing that with open eyes.

[00:37:36] Barry O'Kane: And I think the second thing is for me is the importance of viewing resale as part of a broader circular system and how for many brands, it can be that gateway to exploring new opportunities and working out the incentives to align business and the other benefits we've discussed. And then, obviously, I'm going to finish on the thoughts around the technology.

[00:38:00] Barry O'Kane: We have spoken to some amazing people building amazing technology that is focused on actual change and really enabling resale and circularity. And that's really exciting. And I think there are many more out there that we didn't have a chance to speak to, but it's just really exciting and positive that, that it's happening.

[00:38:20] Barry O'Kane: Those that regularly listened to the podcast, will have heard me say before, software engineering is one of the most important and powerful and highly rewarded careers in modern society. And with that, I believe, comes a responsibility to work out how to use our skills and build the technology that is having positive impact.

[00:38:41] Barry O'Kane: And doing more than just focusing on profit at all costs. What are your thoughts, Emily?

[00:38:46] Emily Swaddle: I think that those are really important things to take away. And I would add to that for anyone who's listening, who maybe isn't in the industry yet, or isn't a technologist necessarily, I think there are important takeaways for all of us.

[00:39:01] Emily Swaddle: You know, we all own clothes, we all own things, and ultimately, the conclusion I've come to after this deep dive is that resale is important, and that we should be doing it, we should be supporting this movement, but also, and I think probably more important than that, is that this overarching respect and value that we place on the things that we buy, the things that we produce, the things that we use, the things that we own.

[00:39:33] Emily Swaddle: That to me feels like so essential to this whole change, and it's something that I'll definitely be taking away from this. These are just our conclusions, and we'd love to hear what you've got out of this mini series deep dive. Get in touch. You can find us on LinkedIn, you can send us an email, [email protected]. We'd love to hear what you thought.

[00:39:53] Barry O'Kane: And thank you so much again to all our guests for giving up their time and their expertise and sharing their stories. Thanks for listening. Looking forward to the next exploration when we'll be looking at a whole different topic.

[00:40:07] Emily Swaddle: Thank you for listening to this episode of Happy Porch Radio.

[00:40:09] Emily Swaddle: You'll find our show notes in the description at, which include links, resources, and much more.

[00:40:16] Barry O'Kane: If you're interested in exploring these topics further with us, come and join our live webinar in the next few weeks. Visit and sign up to our newsletter for more details.

[00:40:26] Emily Swaddle: We wanna say a big thank you to all of our guests that joined us for this episode. Their details and contacts are also in the show notes.

[00:40:34] Barry O'Kane: I've been Barry.

[00:40:35] Emily Swaddle: I've been Emily, and thanks to Ben helping us behind the scenes. Thanks for listening. Until next time.