Saving The Environment One Dress At A Time: How ReLove Makes Sustainability Easy
Long before conversations around climate threat and sustainability became mainstream, the Indian habit of recycling has been a critical part of our daily lives. We’ve long made the most of what we have: Old saris are refashioned into cosy quilts or vibrant curtains, worn-out clothes find a fresh lease on life as dusters, and plastic milk packets from yesterday are today’s roti wrappers. This is not an external intervention that requires an awakening of our collective consciousness – this is just the Indian ethos.?
As the world wrestles with multiple environmental challenges, the need to lead a more sustainable life is more pressing than ever. Well, at least, for some of us.
One way to incorporate sustainability in daily life is to eschew fast fashion. For those who want to go beyond, there is now a slew of environment-conscious fashion brands and initiatives. ReLove is one such. Founded by Kirti Poonia and Prateek Gupte, ReLove has adopted the spirit of circular fashion and revolves around extending the life cycle of garments, thereby reducing waste and minimising the environmental impact of clothing consumption.?
ReLove works with several equally conscious and Insta-savvy fashion outlets like NoNasties, The Summer House, and Jodi to resell garments or products that have already been sold. The customers of these brands, instead of junking a garment that they no longer wish to wear, can simply send it back to them. The brand in turn lists the “pre-loved” garment on its website at a marked-down price. This leaves the brand with inventory, the new customer with a pretty discount, and the original customer with a clean conscience.?
It’s a modern tech solution for a global offline problem. While “Relove” is a peer-to-peer resale programme for branded resale, “Rescue” allows brands to resell their damaged or deadstock inventory.??
For Poonia, who is also the ex-CEO of the very popular Okhai, social consciousness is at the heart of everything she does. Okhai’s handcrafted apparel and lifestyle products are designed by India’s rural artisans and are a beautiful blend of traditional skills and contemporary designs. But it was driven by a mission to empower less privileged women by nurturing their skills, self-confidence, and self-esteem, combined with financial freedom. Similarly, ReLove was born out of her concern for the strain fashion puts on Earth’s resources and the glut of unused clothing among her customers.
Collaboration For The Greater Good
“I discussed this underutilisation with Prateek (her business partner), and he suggested that we build technology to normalise garment reuse,” Poonia told me. “So we built the tech to put a resell button in a customer’s order history. In just one and a half years, 60 fashion brands have gone circular, gaining customer loyalty through our tech.”??
ReLove relentlessly backs an eco-conscious approach to fashion, further enhanced through partnerships with like-minded brands. “We majorly look at two criteria while incorporating brands to ReLove: If they have the right intent and what is their main reason for the association. We also scan their branding and intention to be sustainable,” said Poonia.
One such ReLove partner is Apurva Kothari, the co-founder of NoNasties, a brand that champions organic cotton and fair trade principles. For Kothari, the initiative centred around achieving utmost sustainability and recognising the importance of shifting to a circular economy in combating climate change. “It amplifies the dialogue and collectively creates a comprehensive eco-system with each brand approaching sustainability with its own USPs,” said Kothari.?
After ReLove identifies a partner brand – based on customer requests or direct outreach – and an initial screening, their operations team onboard the brand within 30 minutes. The marketing team designs a launch plan. If brands also choose the Rescue model, a digital factory outlet, they get extra revenue from damaged stock and returns. Post-launch, customers can swiftly list their garments, which takes about a minute. ReLove handles all brand operations, including customer care, logistics, fraud management, quality, payments, and eco-friendly packaging upon sale.
NoNasties has gone a step further and introduced the Circular Closet programme, where almost new items are resold via ReLove, wearable used clothes are repaired or donated, and end-of-life garments are recycled into new clothes through innovative weaves. In the circular model, everyone gains: Sellers earn from unused items, brands from existing production, and the planet from lower carbon emissions.?
For partner brands, there is also a significant uptick in sales and brand value. The Summer House, one of ReLove’s first collaborators, saw a phenomenal 22x return on ad spend (ROAS) by using ReLove store credit and significantly exalting its brand worth. Meanwhile, Suta encountered a surge in sales, with more than 75% of customers initially purchasing preloved items on the platform and returning for new products. Summer Somewhere successfully attracted new customers, with 77% of those gained through ReLove.
Protecting The Environment In Style
In some ways, the ReLove model is thrift shopping dressed in sustainable clothes. For younger people, websites like The Vintage Laundry and Snazzy Thrift have eased access to designer or expensive clothing. Even celebrities like Deepika Padukone and Kim Kardashian have endorsed the practice of thrifting.?
According to threadUP’s 2022 resale report, the secondhand market in the U.S. pulled in a solid $35 billion in revenue last year and is projected to balloon to a massive $82 billion by 2026. Producing new clothes also consumes resources and energy while causing greenhouse gas emissions. Thrifting reduces the demand for new clothing, lowering the overall carbon footprint of the fashion industry. A study in Canada found that buying a used pair of jeans instead of new ones saved approximately 7,500 litres of water, a quantity that an average person consumes in 7 years.?
But the idea of thrifting is always wrought with concerns about quality. That’s where ReLove steps in to ensure consumers are not let down.?
During listing, sellers are guided to wash and iron garments and provide details about the item’s age, wear frequency, defects, and relevant images. A packaging video is shared upon sale for authentication, and payment is released only after the buyer confirms the stated condition. As for fair pricing, Relove has its own algorithm that determines the sale based on all the above factors.?
Can mindful labels, then, genuinely improve our environment? There are no easy answers. But there are some encouraging ones. According to Poonia, Okhai managed to save approximately 3.3 million litres of water, eliminate 6,000 kgs of CO2 from the atmosphere, and extend the life cycle of over 1,000 garments.?
So whether you are thinking of protecting the environment or upping your fashion game, you can now put those credit cards to work. This time, without any guilt.