Cutting down on fast fashion

Loopers, a new online second-hand clothing site, hopes to change consumer behaviour and promote sustainability

More people have become aware of the negative impact of fast fashion on the environment, such as polluted water, use of water and energy, greenhouse gas emissions, textile waste in landfills and microfibre debris in oceans. To save the environment, some people decide to buy fewer clothes.

Two celebrities -- Kanatip "Kru Loukgolf" Soonthornrak and Maria Poonlertlarp -- vowed that one of their New Year's resolutions is to stop shopping for new clothes. Their determination also affected Phichamas Chaingam, a fashion enthusiast, who used to purchase a lot of clothes.

"I love clothes and fashion. My excuse for purchasing many clothes used to be that I have many friends who own online boutiques and I have to meet people to build business connections. I was stunned when I heard these two celebrities said they would stop shopping for new clothes. I thought it was impossible, but they showed me how to do it by wearing old clothes and purchasing second-hand clothes," said Phichamas.

Sarun Siriphatprawat, left, and Phichamas Chaingam, founders of Loopers. (Photos: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Phichamas felt inspired because she has worked for her parent's business in the garment industry for over a decade. Although the business meets international standards in terms of environment and labour since they work for global brands, she has been aware of the negative impacts of the textile and garment industries on the environment.

However, Phichamas wanted to do more for the environment. When she needed to purchase a new outfit for an occasion, she searched for second-hand clothes through online platforms but was not satisfied with their services, so she decided to establish an online second-hand service called Loopers with her co-founder Sarun Siriphatprawat.

"I found many pain points. There was no listed price, details of size in length and width, and no prompt response. I discovered the second-hand clothing websites I liked were international websites. In Thailand, second-hand clothing shops are mostly on social media. So we decided to launch Loopers," said Phichamas.

Loopers.shop provides details of clothing size, condition, price and photos from several angles. People can shop for clothes via the website or sell their own clothes by registering via Line @Loopers. One thing which makes Loopers different from other second-hand stores is that its content on facebook.com/loopers.shop focuses on the environment and textiles.

"We want to provide information about sustainability. Our followers do not have to be sellers or customers, but they must realise how fast fashion affects the environment. Our posts also inform followers how to care for and make their clothes last longer. On Labour Day, we tackle unfair workplace practices and other issues. On Pride Day, we speak about equality and genderless clothing. We create content to keep up with current situations and followers interact with our content since our target group is Gen Z, who ask many questions about how we help society and our sustainability plans," said Phichamas.

In addition to photos of clothes on the Loopers website, there is information about the sustainability impact of producing an outfit. For example, the production of an outfit requires many litres of water, kilogrammes of carbon dioxide emission and energy. Sarun explained that these details are estimates of how much clothing production harms the environment. For example, 850 baht jeans are produced using 4,050 litres of water which is equivalent to 16,200 bottles. If people reuse their clothes or at least purchase second-hand clothes, it will reduce the use of natural resources, energy and carbon emission.

Although second-hand clothes have a positive impact on the environment, they have a negative image which concerns many people.

"People believe that second-hand clothes are smelly, but we select clean clothes. Before launching Loopers, we conducted research and 80% of respondents said they wanted to know who the owners of the clothes were. They worried that we might be selling clothes from the deceased. Some platforms allow sellers to post their own clothes and some sell counterfeit goods. At Loopers, we sell only brand-name clothes and post the name of the owner after their consent. Information about the owners leads to interaction between buyers and sellers and builds community. One buyer told us to ask a seller what kind of liquid fabric softener the seller used because the buyer liked the smell," said Phichamas.

At Loopers, Phichamas and Sarun said they accept clothes in good condition.

The loopers. shop website.

"Clothes must be clean and be in at least 70% good condition. There are no yellow stains, no fungus and no unfunctional zippers and buttons. We accept an outfit with a stain if it appears in an inconspicuous spot. We accept only brand-name clothes but are not limited to only luxurious brands. There are many local brands at Loopers. We require brand-name clothes because we want to protect copyright brands. If we find any counterfeit goods, we return them all," said Phichamas.

Loopers takes 35% of items priced at 500 to 1,500 baht. If items cost more than 1,500 baht, Loopers takes 25%. Although the minimum price allowed by Loopers is 300 baht, the site still takes a commission of 175 baht. Phichamas and Sarun said they are happy that their sales have increased by over 20% each month. They noticed that initially customers did not make many purchases, but after they received the products and were satisfied, they returned to purchase more.

After the launch of Loopers, there has been a lot of feedback from both sellers and customers which has helped them to develop their product.

"At the beginning, we did not have a maternity category. A seller told us that she wanted to sell her maternity clothes because she did not plan to have any more children. We realise that clothes are produced to be worn for 40 to 50 years, but women wear maternity clothes for nine months or breastfeeding clothes for one year. We are happy to forward these clothes to other customers. We took time to research maternity clothes and now they are available on Loopers," said Phichamas.

Creating images of secondhand clothes.

When browsing Loopers, there are clothes produced by some fast fashion brands. Does selling products like these mean Loopers supports the fast fashion industry too?

"No. The products were produced and purchased. If we do not resell them, there will be more textile waste in the environment. When someone purchases fast fashion products, they should reuse them as many times as possible. Whenever they do not want those clothes, they can send them to us," she said.

"Apart from fast fashion brands, I notice there are new brands which focus on niche markets such as plus size clothes and jeans for short women. These brands produce high-quality clothes in small quantities. They listen to their customers carefully. They should be supported," Phichamas added.

In the future, Loopers plans to sell more reused items.

"There are other items that can be reused such as bags, shoes and other accessories, but we started with clothes because we have expertise in that area. We also plan to ship products to other countries in Southeast Asia, especially Laos and Vietnam because they like our local brands. There will be an international shipping service soon," said Phichamas.


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