An obsession with shopping is a prerequisite for most girls in their teenage years – and it’s this obsession that inspired Karen Freidin, the founder of Reluv

When Karen’s two daughters entered their teenage years, shopping became an essential part of their lives, prompting her to question the ethics and sustainability of the fashion industry.

The seed was planted and her interest expanded to female fashion consumers as a whole. With heightened pressure to have endless on trend outfit options, many shoppers turn to fast fashion giants.

“The massive environmental issues which lie behind fast fashion, the growing trend to consume more than we ever need, and the ways that the globalisation of fashion production has resulted in significant social issues and inequities in some of the world’s poorest communities were the key factors in me wanting to work to transform the fashion industry,” Karen says.

“The plight of garment workers especially grabbed my attention. The appalling conditions they work in and the meagre wages they are paid to produce ‘disposable’ clothing for the western world stuck with me.

“In addition, I wanted to establish a truly sustainable business, which has positive environmental and social impacts at its core.”

To fulfill this mission, Karen got to work on creating Reluv, which has now become one of Australia’s largest online retailers of secondhand clothing and accessories. 

Selling pre-loved fashion for all age groups, Reluv’s intention is to keep clothes in circulation longer and out of landfill, while driving a change in consumer choices.

Why secondhand fashion? 

The transformation of the fashion industry will not be solved by one type of business or from a singular aspect. Karen believes secondhand fashion is part of the multifaceted approach needed to address the many challenges the industry faces. 

“Sustainable production, a trend towards slow fashion brands producing better quality clothing, clothing rental, resale and textile recycling will all need to be part of a new way forward for fashion,” Karen says. 

“Resale increases the utilisation rate of garments and drives down production of new items. With every secondhand garment purchased, one new garment is not produced.

“Doing business in the way we do with Reluv means that water consumption, carbon emissions, chemical use and end of life waste is saved.”

From 2000-2015, global clothing production doubled from 50 billion items to 100 billion items. During that same period, clothing utilisation decreased by 36 per cent.

“We produced twice as many items in this 15-year span but used these items significantly less,” Karen says. “The average Australian wears only 55 per cent of the items in their wardrobe.

“In 2018 approximately 150 billion items of clothing were manufactured, it is an excessive amount that just isn’t needed. The linear fashion production process also results in less than one per cent of the material used to produce these clothes being recycled into new clothing items at the end of their lives.”

“The statistics speak for themselves and are why secondhand fashion is so important in relation to sustainability in the fashion industry.”

Practice what you preach

Whether you buy from or sell through Reluv, you can trust that sustainability and social impact is baked into Reluv’s supply chain.

Their initiatives include: 

  • All items that are not accepted for sale are donated to support entrepreneurship in Indigenous communities or women reentering the workforce
  • Items that are not able to be sold or donated are recycled through textile recyclers in Australia
  • Only Clean Out shipping bags, parcel packs and shopping labels that are 100 per cent compostable are used, and parcels are shipped through carbon neutral service provider Sendle
  • One dollar from every purchase is donated to programs which support garment workers in developing countries

Shopping Reluv

Located in Melbourne, Reluv ships Australia-wide. Customers are able to buy preloved clothes in top quality condition with a 14 day return policy. 

All body shapes are sizes are catered to, and with over 100 brands to choose from, you’re sure to find something that you’ll wear time and time again. 

With a ‘CERTIFIED RELUVABLE’ guarantee, you know that every item has been rigorously inspected and selected so you’ll receive only the best secondhand clothing. 

To make the process even easier, Reluv also offers a full resale service where customers can send items they no longer wear and the entire sales process is managed for them. 

This article was created in partnership with Reluv.