Katarzyna Zajączkowska: I would not oppose e-commerce to circular fashion

What discourages consumers from entering the world of circular fashion? What channels should be used to promote such fashion? Does it make sense to open boutiques with clothes used in malls? We talk about all this with Katarzyna Zajączkowska, author of the book “Responsible Fashion”.

On the one hand, we constantly hear about the return of thrift store fashion, and on the other hand, the e-commerce market (which also applies to the clothing industry) is booming. What about this circular fashion today? Do consumers really want to go this route?

The perception of second-hand circulation has been changing for several years and more and more people are no longer ashamed to buy second-hand items. Indeed, awareness of the climate catastrophe is growing and consumer motivations are changing. Many people today choose second circulation not only because of savings (although inflation will play an important role here), but also because of environmental and social sensitivity and growing criticism of fast fashion. . The clothing industry carefully analyzes these changes in attitude and tries to respond to them. The pandemic has pushed us to buy online more willingly, but I wouldn’t oppose e-commerce to circular fashion. For many companies, this is not an “either-or” choice, but rather an “ii” strategy.

What discourages consumers from entering the world of circular fashion? Is it perhaps ignorance, lack of awareness of the consequences of buying new things all the time?

The gigantic financial success of the Shein platform shows that buying disposable clothes in bulk is mass entertainment for many people. Interestingly (and sadly), it is often young people who feel climate anxiety and are very worried about their future. Yet, on the one hand, she does not make the connection between fashion overconsumption and the deplorable state of the world, and on the other hand, she is under enormous pressure from social networks. Influencers and influential influencers rarely encourage the second spread, because it is not the lumpy companies that give them the best business proposals.

How to promote circular fashion? What channels should be used for this purpose?

The same in which “linear” fashion is promoted, because it is very efficient (we buy more than 80 billion pieces of clothing every year, and we produce 100 billion pieces). The fashion and beauty industry is increasingly investing in social media advertising, increasing the share of the budget allocated to campaigns and cooperation every year. In a nutshell, a poster for a vintage storefront may not be enough and a fluent Instagram account will come in handy.

What is the part, for example, of the Vined application in popularizing such a fashion? What are its advantages and disadvantages ?

The Vinted app is undoubtedly a very practical and discreet form of second-circuit shopping, also for people who don’t like traditional second-hand stores. It allows you to accurately search for items at great value prices, but generally does not provide returns. It has also become a workplace for many people. However, we will see what will change the fine imposed on the company by the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection (more than PLN 5.3 million).

In Poland, more and more shops are opening in shopping centers selling second-hand items. Can such an idea convince consumers of circular fashion?

Yes, this is a very good step, because the barrier of low availability disappears. In addition, circular shops fit perfectly into commercial spaces and allow people who do not like thrift stores for various reasons. The customer benefits from the entire user experience of the gallery, the shops expand their target group and the shopping centers collect points for the ESG. I also hope that fast fashion brands will draw conclusions from observing such a neighboring trade.

Is it worth paying attention to the specific characteristics of clothes when looking for second-hand items? Composition, origin?

Functionality, good quality and good composition are important because they guarantee a longer life for our garments. The origin is an important and separate subject, but the label “made in Poland” does not always mean the best choice. However, mindfulness and curiosity are always useful for every shopping. The same goes for recognizing what motivates us – a real need or a momentary whim. Especially if you don’t want to end up with a bunch of random things that you were “sorry I didn’t buy”. Even the second cycle has its pitfalls and dark sides. And it’s probably a good time for self-promotion, because I collected all the knowledge and experience in this field in my book “Responsible Fashion”.

Katarzyna Zajączkowska – author of the podcast and the book “Responsible Moda”, designer and economist by training, lecturer at the School of Artistic Fashion Design, with several years of experience in the largest clothing companies in Poland. She supports the fashion industry in the field of sustainable development, focusing on innovative solutions around circular fashion, organizes workshops, conferences and webinars for companies and organizations.

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