Madewell and ThredUp Advance Their Partnership

Madewell is deepening its tie-up with ThredUp to capitalize on the increasingly popular resale market.

In 2019, Madewell formed a pilot program with ThredUp, called Madewell Archive. Essentially, this involved the Madewell team shopping ThredUp for a relatively small amount of pre-owned Madewell jeans and reselling them for $50 per pair, at just a handful of Madewell stores.

The new resale program, called Madewell Forever, launches today and is far more ambitious, and less expensive for consumers.

Here is how it works:

• Customers bring their denim to Madewell stores. The Madewell Forever program accepts Madewell and any brand or style of pre-worn jeans in Madewell stores and distributes a $20 credit towards a full-priced pair of Madewell jeans.

• Collected items are sent to ThredUp, which sorts the inventory to determine what can be re-sold.

• Women’s Madewell denim that meets the pre-set standards will be resold on the Madewell Forever micro-site within, and in select Madewell stores. The secondhand jeans are priced from $35 to $50. A tab on takes you to the Madewell Forever pages.

• Non-Madewell denim that meets ThredUp’s standards will be resold on ThredUp’s site.

• Any denim deemed unsellable gets recycled through approved programs like Cotton’s Blue Jeans Go Green, to be recycled and used for housing insulation.

• For now, Madewell Forever involves just women’s denim, though there are plans to extend to all denim in the future.

An image from the Madewell Forever campaign. 

Madewell Forever is powered by ThredUp’s Resale-as-a-Service technology and logistics platform, enabling circular fashion experiences for brands and retailers. Madewell is the first brand to utilize the service.

“At Madewell, we believe that it is our responsibility to create quality products that are built to last, develop solutions to reduce apparel waste, and keep clothing in circulation for as long as possible,” said Libby Wadle, the chief executive officer of the J.Crew Group, which operates the Madewell brand.

Initially, Madewell Forever is offering over 3,000 pre-owned women’s jeans, and new styles are added hourly as available, according to the company.

Denim represents “the core” of the Madewell brand, which also sells sportswear, T-shirts, outerwear, footwear and accessories.

Madewell Forever, according to officials from the brand, establishes “a new way to pass on jeans that are ready for a second life, thereby potentially doubling the time each piece is in circulation and reducing its environmental footprint by 82 percent.”

“Together, we are not only helping Madewell take steps towards their sustainability goals, but also furthering ThredUp’s mission to inspire a new generation of consumers to think secondhand first,” James Reinhart, ThredUp cofounder and CEO, said in a statement. He said ThredUp’s operating platform will “enable and scale a meaningful resale channel for Madewell through Madewell Forever.”

Madewell and ThredUp aim to collect one million pairs of denim by 2023, about double the amount Madewell has collected for the resale market in the last six years. So far, Madewell has diverted over 500 tons of denim waste from landfills through its existing trade-in program.

Madewell Forever is unlike most other resale programs considering most other brands accept only their own merchandise, not merchandise from other brands.

According to ThredUp’s 2021 Resale Report, secondhand sales are projected to double to $77 billion in the next five years, with $47 billion of that sold through the resale market and $30 billion through thrift shops and donations.

The report also shows over 40 percent of Millennials and Gen Z shoppers have shopped secondhand fashion over the past 12 months. ThredUp research indicates that currently 34 billion items of clothing are still thrown away in the U.S. annually — 95 percent of which could be recycled or reused.

Madewell said in its statement that Madewell Forever was launched based on the success of its Madewell Archive program.

ThredUp has become one of the world’s largest resale platforms for women’s and kids’ apparel, shoes and accessories. The company says it has processed over 100 million unique secondhand items from 35,000 brands across 100 categories. The San Francisco-based company went public last March and at the time had a $1.3 billion valuation.

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