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Gemma Owen at the PLT headquarters
via Instagram (@prettylittlething)

Pre-Loved Tat: PrettyLittleThing has solved sustainability!

A secondhand marketplace will not paper over the cracks of a corrosive business model

The letters PLT, which previously referred to the fast fashion juggernaut famed for alleged-worker exploitation and planetary destruction, will henceforth stand for Pre-Loved Tat. This morning, Molly-Mae Hague and her team announced that the company has launched a secondhand marketplace where users can hawk their old clothes for a bit of extra cash. “It will be an app where girls can resell their PLT pieces and pretty much anything pre-loved,” Hague said. “It is a massive move for us and something that we think will disrupt the fashion industry, as people aren’t going to expect this from us.”

She’s not wrong! The brand, which has enraged climate activists by promoting a culture of disposable fashion – staging 100 per cent sales and the like – has proven itself antithetical to sustainable shopping. “Our mission is focused on the 3 R’s of re-selling, re-wearing, and re-cyling,” the description of the app, which is only available in the UK, reads. “Through this, our aim is to make fashion more diverse, inclusive, and less wasteful.” That’s all well and good, but when a PLT garment can barely make it through a wash without getting trashed, what is the actual point? Unless extreme changes are made to PLT’s business model – which is built on cheap labour and a mammoth turnover of product – these behemoths will never be able to offer an ethical alternative. 

Over a two week period last May, the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce pulled various items from ASOS, Missguided, PrettyLittleThing, and Boohoo, with analysis suggesting that 49 per cent of garments had been made from virgin plastics like nylon, acrylic, and polyester – which are themselves forged from fossil fuels. Though PLT might position a marketplace as the solution to throwaway fashion, it’s worth noting that charity shops are already overloaded with its corrosive products. So even if initiatives like this might encourage young people to thrift their fashion, paying lip service to sustainability will not paper over the fissures the company has already created. The best thing PLT could do would be to shutter its business entirely – the only solution to fast fashion is the abolition of fast fashion.

We reached out to PrettyLittleThing for comment, and this is what a brand representative had to say: “Our customers told us they want simple and easy ways to give their old clothes a new lease of life and make some money for themselves in the process. PrettyLittleThing Marketplace is a community platform that will allow people to do just that. We are all about making fashion more diverse and inclusive, giving our customers the creative freedom to express themselves. With the PLT Marketplace App, it is now even easier to join our ‘PLTLoved’ movement as we all play our part in reducing waste.”