Cecilia is single-handedly changing the way you shop for clothes

How this US-based entrepreneur and fashion expert is going to revolutionise the humble op shop.

Donating your clothes to an op shop was once an altruistic and sustainable alternative to simply throwing them away. However, thanks to the dizzying plethora of endless micro-trends and the general decline in the quality of clothes, this is no longer the case. We’re now cycling through fashion faster than ever and, as a result of this, second hand stores around the world can’t keep up with the sheer amount of donations.

Each year in Australia, 200,000 tonnes of clothes are donated to charity shops. More concerningly, in the US, Goodwill alone receives over 2.5 million tonnes of donations. Of these tonnes of donations, only about 30 per cent are actually sold, meaning that op shops around the world are quickly drowning in unusable textile waste.

In the face of this brewing conundrum, US-based entrepreneur, fashion expert and businesswoman Cecilia Hermawan has a vision for the future of second hand clothes.

Cecilia, who is the founder of Vico Style, is currently developing technology that could revolutionise the second hand fashion market and reduce unnecessary textile waste.

Backed by artificial intelligence, Cecilia is planning to create a software that can scan, assort and digitally catalogue clothing donations en masse. This technology has the propensity to help second hand stores sift through and sell more clothes.

As well as this, by cataloguing and digitising donations, Cecilia hopes that this will encourage shoppers to buy second hand first.

“I really want to see people start consuming second hand first,” Cecilia tells The Weekly. “Manufacturers and brands work off demand, if that demand could be funnelled to opt for second hand first, then we would not have the overproducing issue that we have.”

Cecilia, who spent her teenage years growing up in Shepparton, fused her love of fashion with her entrepreneurial finesse in 2021 and launched Vico Style.

“I was a single parent who was working and studying. I had to learn to be better with my money but I still wanted to look and feel good.

“When my friend introduced me to secondhand, I fell in love and began shopping for vintage and secondhand clothes,” Cecilia recalls.

Cecilia then began curating an assortment of vintage clothes as a weekend side-hustle around raising her daughter and studying. When she realised the appetite for well-sourced, quality vintage, she opened up a storefront and began working to revolutionise the second hand clothing market.

“I wanted to leverage technology and do something different,” Cecilia says, acknowledging the heavily saturated vintage reseller market. 

Cecilia found through extensive customer research that potential shoppers were turned off second hand clothes due to hygiene concerns, confusing sizing and assortment. 

“I put a sizing translation on all the clothes I sell so people won’t have to do a guessing game,” Cecilia explains.

“Cleanliness is another barrier that I wanted to tackle, I sanitise and dry clean all the pieces that come through the store so they’re more approachable,” she adds.

However, whilst this ethos has helped Cecilia to build her business and encourage second hand shopping within the Boston area where her store resides, she now has her sights set on helping to make second hand shopping as easy as buying new clothes.

“Right now, there is no direct-to-consumer solution that’s really facilitating the ease of second hand shopping,” Cecilia says. “That’s why I’m so bullish on this technology that we’re developing, to encourage people to fill their wardrobes with second hand first, and make it easy to do that.”

Currently, the technology is in the planning stage for Cecilia’s business, Vico Style, but she hopes that in the near-future, this can be rolled out to second hand stores around the world to continue to help combat textile waste.

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