Dr Martens to get foot in the door of resale market with help from Depop | Dr.Martens

Dr Martens is looking to stomp into the repair and resale market on the back of a new collaboration with the online secondhand clothing marketplace Depopas demand surges for refurbished fashion.

Kenny Wilson, the British footwear brand’s chief executive, said it was possible that refurbished or secondhand boots could account for up to 15% of sales in 10 years’ time and it was important to work out how to play a part in that market.

“We think this is going to be a big part of how consumers shop in the future,” he said, adding that there were already other businesses trading in secondhand DMs. “This is part of something really important for the business longer term. Our incredible strength is the durability of the product. I can own a pair for seven or eight years and they are still perfectly good for someone else who wants to buy them. ”

Depop’s customer base skews young, but Wilson said the interest in sustainability had broad appeal. “There are people of all ages saying they would rather buy something that is reconditioned rather than new. There are still lots of other people who do want new. It is about choice,” Wilson said.

Dr Martens is joining a rush into refurbishment and resale at all levels of the fashion market – from Mulberry and Harvey Nichols to Marks & Spencer and H&M – as demand from shoppers increases.

Dr Martens CEO, Kenny Wilson, at the HQ factory near Wellingborough. Photograph: Fabio De Paola / The Guardian

Even the reality show Love Island has recognized the trend in a new partnership with eBay under which participants wear “preloved” items, replacing previous sponsor partners that have included the fast fashion brands Missguided and I Saw it First.

The international resale market is expected to grow from $27bn (£21bn) today to $57bn by 2025, according to a Business of Fashion report, and the secondhand marketplace ThredUp estimates that resale will grow 11 times faster than the overall clothing retail sector over the next five years.

Lorna Hall, the director of fashion at the trends forecasting firm WGSN, said consumers now saw “clothes as currency”, with the sale of worn items funding new outfits, and those brands which did not participate would be cutting themselves out of a fast growing market.

“There are three big drivers,” she said. “It has become part of the retail experience for the shopper with spare time, which is often someone young who likes to hunt out items and create individual looks and own something you can’t buy now at mass [on the mass market].

“Then there’s an audience who thinks it’s a more sustainable way to shop, and there’s the cost of a living crisis, which will drive even more shoppers to seek out better value from resale.”

Entering the market had become easier for brands thanks to the rise of companies which handle the return and resale process, such as ThredUp and the resale technology company Reflaunt, she said.

Under Dr Martens’ ReSouled scheme with Depop, aging DMs can be repolished, given new laces, soles, heel loops and insoles before being put back on the market. The footwear is priced at about 80% that of a new pair. The lower price is likely to have wider appeal after Dr Martens raises the price of its classic 1460 eight-hole boots in the UK by £10 a pair to £159 in July.

Prices are going up in Europe, including the UK, and the US because the costs of leather, metal eyelets, soles and shipping costs are soaring as a result of demand for commodities and wage inflation.

Several thousand pairs of DMs sourced from returns to wholesale customers have already been given a new life either through a partnership with the specialist refurbisher The Boot Repair Company or at Dr Martens’ UK factory.

Wilson said the company, which publishes its annual results on Wednesday, was considering how to design a much larger scheme, but the venture with Depop would probably be tested out for about six months before any decisions were taken on next steps.

A key part of developing any full-scale refurbishment plan would work out how to refurbish boots locally close to where they were being sold, he said. That might include more work in the UK at the factory in Wollaston, near Wellingborough in Northamptonshire, where the company was founded, which currently accounts for just 2% of sales.

Workers there use a mix of new technology, such as computer-guided cutting machines as well as ancient-looking bespoke sewing machines to make its slightly pricier Made in England range.

The group has already had to diversify its manufacturing base. Four years ago 80% of its boots were made in China, but now a third are made in Vietnam and the UK factory expanded to a second site in 2019.

The company is taking careful steps after canceling an earlier stab at the services market. The For Life range, launched in 2009 offering a lifetime guarantee on boots, was canceled in 2018.

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