In order to always be able to offer the most exclusive stock in our online shop, we are looking for new and better sources for our vintage clothing every day. We get our clothes almost exclusively from wholesalers, which are spread all over Europe.
But where do their clothes come from? And what does all this have to do with the donation container from the neighborhood?
In order to understand how the wholesalers and ultimately how we get our clothes, it makes sense to look at the entire life cycle of second-hand clothes.
Old clothing that is no longer needed is either thrown away, sold or donated by the former wearer. While flea markets or platforms like Vinted are often used for the sale, you can also donate the clothes to clothing containers or to social department stores. This is usually the easiest way to get rid of your clothes quickly and with a clear conscience. In Germany, about 1 million tons of clothes are donated every year.
However, donating clothes is not the same as donating clothes: what happens to the clothes after the donation can be very different.
Social department stores use the clothes donated to them to offer them in their stores at a low price. However, since more clothes are usually donated than they can use, unopened garment bags are often resold to sorting warehouses.
If you want to know exactly what happens to the donated clothes to a specific social department store, it's best to ask there directly.
If you donate clothes via a donation container, it is not entirely clear where the clothes end up. There are organizations like the German Red Cross or Caritas, which use containers to collect items of clothing in order to distribute them from there to their own social department stores. However, there are also organizations that only set up the donation containers with profit intentions and without the social motive. This is not wrong in itself, it just has to be clearly communicated and should not be seen as a social donation.
In order to find out what kind of organization is behind the individual donation containers and what then happens to the clothes in individual cases, research often has to be carried out (internet or via a telephone number).
Whether via a social department store or via the donation containers: a large part of the clothing ends up in large sorting warehouses. They buy up large quantities of old clothes in order to sell them for more money after sorting them.
About 90% of all clothing is recycled: Clothes that are no longer wearable are processed into rags or painter's fleece, for example.
Clothes that can still be worn are sorted according to condition, type of clothing or style. The items of clothing that have now been categorized can be sold more expensively because customers know more precisely what to expect from the clothes they have bought.
The largest group of customers here are wholesalers who either process the pieces further or sell them directly to small companies.
Wholesalers in the second-hand industry usually have different sorting warehouses from which they obtain the goods. In some cases, large quantities of clothing are also imported from other continents because they can be sold more expensively here.
The items of clothing that a wholesaler offers are often very diverse and come from different parts of the world.
And we are at the end of the chain: Through close contact with the wholesalers and the personal selection of each individual item, the clothes reach us and then go to the online shop, whether online or offline, through second-hand shops the clothes are put back in the closets.
And if they are no longer needed there, the game starts over.
The cycle of second-hand fashion is thus closed.
Unfortunately, the cycle lacks transparency in many places. Sometimes it is not exactly comprehensible from which sources individual clothes come. Due to the many individual stations that are passed through in the process, it is often difficult for us to identify the exact origin.
By working with our wholesalers, we want to ensure more transparency in our process chain.
Since we want to revolutionize the fashion industry with Heartlight, it is important to know the origin and the individual stations of our goods and to know that things are going right there.