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Brands To Watch

September 2, 2020

min read

How thredUP created conscious consumers one t-shirt at a time

Let’s be honest, there’s nothing sexy about the word “secondhand.” Both secondhand and thrift shops conjure images of old shops, crammed with clothes and other miscellaneous items. That’s often why people prefer “mainstream” shopping - it’s much sexier to walk around a mall and pick up that Zara dress everyone on TikTok is wearing. While the convenience is great, the impact on the environment is astonishing. Each year, 32 billion garments are produced for the US market alone, and of that 62% ends up in a landfill. It’s also estimated that 26 billion pounds of clothing end up in landfills each year. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the fashion industry is the second-highest user of worldwide water and is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions (sorry-not-sorry for ruining your shopping experience forever). 


In 2009, James Reinhart saw an opportunity to reduce the impact the fashion industry has on the environment and launched thredUp, an online consignment and thrift store. ThredUP started off by connecting sellers and buyers, but they quickly realized that in order to properly attract people to their site, they needed to be the ones doing the work. Now, thredUP handles all of the warehousing, inspection, photography, description, sales transaction, shipping, and pricing, meaning all the “seller” has to do is send them their clothes. The company then redistributes the items and gives the sellers a portion of the consignment sale price. thredUP removes any of the inconveniences of secondhand shopping - no need to scour through mounds of used items. From the comfort of your couch, you can filter by product type, size, color, and even designer. ThredUP’s “Choose Used” slogan has clearly made an impact as they have now redistributed over 65 million items of clothing and accessories. 

But their Gen-Z way of thinking doesn’t stop there. In order to promote secondhand shopping via thredUP, the brand has utilized influencer marketing. In 2022 alone, thredUP has sponsored over 160 YouTubers, receiving over 25M views (that’s a lot of exposure!). Their most successful partnership was with Emma Chamberlain, specifically, her video Grocery Shopping Cures Boredom which received over 7M views.  

Sponsorship History 

ThredUP stepped into the sponsorship realm around 2015, partnering with a wide range of female creators - lifestyle, mom-focused, environmental advocates, and of course, fashion-focused. Each creator shared the pieces they purchased second-hand on the site and emphasized why thredUP is the ideal online shop -such as it being budget-friendly, environmentally friendly, and convenient. 

For example, in 2015, Life Coach Shawn shared how thredUP helped her revamp her children’s back-to-school wardrobe while sticking to her budget. She also highlighted in the video’s caption - “If you enjoy the savings and experiencing of thrift shopping you will LOVE this site. Amazing prices for the new or nearly new items for your back to schooler. You'll find Gap, Gap Kids, Old Navy, Gymboree and more!”

By 2017, thredUP was sponsoring over 69 creators on YouTube! Due to the continuously growing brand awareness and success, thredUP stepped up its game and since 2019, they have sponsored over 500 thought leaders - getting mentioned over 3,200 times. 

thredUP sponsorship history 2011-2022

As can clearly be seen in the graph, thredUP is continuously sponsoring more and more creators - dipping their toes in different niches and collaborating with more male creators.  

thredUP has also upped their podcast sponsorship strategy. Since 2019, the brand has partnered with over 35 podcasters, including big names like: Anna Faris is Unqualified, Chatty Broads with Bekah and Jess, and Morbid: A True Crime Podcast. It’s interesting to see that just like with their YouTube partnerships, thredUP has a history of keeping up long-term partnerships with podcasters. You know what they say - if it’s not broken, sell it second-hand. 

Here’s an example of a great podcast sponsorship with Chatty Broads with Bekah and Jess:

Resale Saving the Day 

As the global pandemic rocked the economy, sending thousands into unemployment, the retail market took a massive hit. Unlike many of their more “mainstream” competitors, though, thredUp received many first time customers during this time. Consumers who were looking to be more money-conscious turned to thredUp in order to find the brands they love without hurting their wallets. While there was already a surge in demand in the resale market before COVID-19, the pandemic highlighted the importance of this sector.  In 2020, the online secondhand market grew by an estimated 27%, unlike the broader retail sector which decreased by 27%. ThredUP’s modern approach to both thrifting and marketing has proven to be a big win for the company, the consumer, and, most importantly, the environment. The company clearly has an upward trajectory, and we expect to continue seeing sponsorships at the forefront of its growth strategy.  

If you are a brand looking to dip your toes into influencer marketing on YouTube and don't know where to start, check out our guide to YouTube sponsorship and don't hesitate to reach out

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