THE STORY OF A PRE-LOVED GARMENT WITH VINTED
words by Anano Shalamberidze
The journey of a garment starts at the minute of its conception. The story of a garment begins with the owner.
Buying pre-loved clothing has always felt special to me. It not only feels like an opportunity to make a sustainable, conscious choice in my consumption cycle but also breathe a new life into a garment that had reached an expiration date in someone else’s wardrobe but will be given a new life in mine.
A lover of vintage but a hater of the time-consuming digging it takes to find a good piece in piles of stuff at thrift stores (sometimes it’s fun, but other times it’s exhausting), Vinted soon became a go-to shopping destination for yours truly. A platform where I can use exact keywords to search for a specific second-hand item I had in mind from the comfort of my own home? Sign me up!
On a mission to make second-hand a first choice for more shoppers, Vinted asked Vaayu to conduct an independent study of 350,000 of their members and assess the emissions saved during half a billion transactions. Results demonstrate clearly quantifiable benefits of circular fashion. Climate Change Impact Report states:
Numéro had a chance to chat with a Vinted representative to dive further into the company’s goals and ethos.
Let’s go back to the beginning…Founded in 2008, Vinted has recently become a go-to online space for second-hand shopping. How did the idea for starting the platform develop?
Milda Mitkute was only 21 years old when the idea of Vinted was created in her mind in 2008. She was a fashion enthusiast from Lithuania who expressed herself through style and found herself in a small student apartment with too many clothes. The clothes needed to be put to good use, instead of hiding somewhere unworn. The solution which became Vinted, started when Milda met Justas Janauskas at a house party. Milda shared her idea and Justas offered to help and built a website to give away her clothes to friends. They started testing various possibilities of a platform where they would give family and friends the possibility to sell and exchange clothes.
Back in 2008, second-hand shopping was not as mainstream as it is now. What was it like taking the company off the ground 15 years ago and how have its operations changed?
Vinted started as a project meant just for Milda and a close network of friends. Even success in their home country Lithuania was unthinkable. Vinted accelerated, but both Milda and Justas were two ordinary students with a start-up on the side. For them, Vinted was a hobby project led by passion, where they could experiment with things aside from their jobs but not earn money from it at the beginning. When interest in their platform was growing rapidly, also outside of Lithuania, Milda, and Justas realized that the second-hand market had a real future. And in the years after, it attracted investors, which led them to expand the platform to other countries.
Awareness of more circular fashion is growing intensively, which until this day, still feeds into the popularity of the app. In 2019 Vinted became the first Unicorn in Lithuania, now operating in 18 markets from its headquarters in Vilnius, and offices in Berlin, Prague, Hamburg, and Amsterdam. It counts over 1500 employees and more than 80 million registered members globally.
Vinted is known to have the most convenient shipping system for sellers. How have you achieved that?
Our mission is to make second-hand the first choice, by offering a convenient solution to trade second-hand, to make it easy and accessible. Our integrated shipping method is part of that, which include the choice of delivery provider (shipping company) and location options to the convenience of the buyer, as well as providing a shipping label in an easy and convenient way for the seller. When a buyer purchases an item using the “Buy now” button, they can choose a delivery option with one of the integrated shipping providers available on Vinted, and they’ll purchase a shipping label right away. We’ll then send a digital shipping label or a code to get the shipping label to the seller, as well as instructions on how to send the order. With this feature, we aim to make it more convenient to trade second-hand.
Of course, a lot of those who are purchasing second-hand items care about sustainability. Shipping and carbon footprint sometimes may not be the most eco-friendly option. How has Vinted ensured that the sustainability aspect is present also within the shipping component of the shopping chain?
We recently released the results of our first Climate Change Impact Report, a comprehensive and independent analysis conducted by climate tech start-up Vaayu of the climate impact of shopping second-hand on Vinted compared to buying new. Deliveries have the largest impact compared to other parts of Vinted operations, but the Report shows that this impact is partially mitigated by our PUDO-first approach, as almost three-quarters (73%) of transactions in 2021 were delivered via PUDO. This contributed to significantly lower emissions compared to Home delivery: PUDO delivery saved 62% emissions compared to home delivery.
In addition, the Report found that 62% of sellers reused packaging designed for single use, which equated to 70% lower emissions than would have been generated by using new packaging, as well as lower waste. Through the launch of our dedicated shipping business, Vinted Go, last year, we plan to continue working to popularise PUDO to help to reduce the climate impact of shipping among our membership base.
*Pick-up point delivery combines the shipping emissions of several orders into one single trip. Home delivery means longer routes and missed deliveries and therefore higher emissions.
Are you planning to launch in other countries? Outside Europe?
When you look at the second-hand compared to the first-hand market, there is still a large gap to fill and room for second-hand to grow. Vinted’s mission is to make second-hand the first choice worldwide; we are currently active in 18 markets (16 in Europe and 2 in North America). There is still lots of room for expansion in Europe. For example, in 2022 the app launched in Slovakia, Hungary & Sweden.