Selfridges unveils circular economy offerings for weddings as SEEN launches beauty packaging recycling

Retail giant Selfridges has launched a new service enabling wedding parties to rent outfits and accessories or to buy second-hand, in the same week that beauty agency SEEN Group is debuting a new recycling scheme for beauty product packaging.

Pictured: A member of the RETURE team working on a repair at the Oxford Street store. Image: Selfridges 

Pictured: A member of the RETURE team working on a repair at the Oxford Street store. Image: Selfridges 

The offering from Selfridges is called RESELLFRIDGES: The Wedding and will initially be available on a pilot basis at the retailer’s Oxford Street store in London for five weeks, until 5 September.

At the store, wedding parties will be able to browse a curated edit of pre-owned items including designer dresses, suits and vintage accessories. There will be the option to buy or rent these items. Additionally available for rent will be a selection of contemporary pieces designed using upcycled materials.

Shoppers will also be able to bring in their wedding shoes and accessories for repair services, carried out through a partnership with The Restory. Clothing repair services and garment upcycling, reconstructing, alteration and refashioning will be provided in-store through a partnership with RETURE. 

Selfridges first announced plans to make resale, repair and rental a larger and more permanent portion of its business model last summer, following partnerships with businesses including second-hand online fashion marketplace Depop and rental firm HURR Collective.   

Last August marked the launch of a new sustainability plan called ‘Project Earth’ at Selfridges, whereby new business models and changing consumer mindsets were flagged as key focus areas. Also detailed were plans to evolve visual communications and add more in-depth environmental and social information to product labels and webpages, in an evolution of the long-standing ‘Buying Better’ labelling scheme.

Selfridges’ executive buying and merchandising director Sebastian Manes said more and more couples are considering the environmental impact of their weddings, with some striving to deliver a positive impact.

“As we continue exploring circular models through Project Earth, we're excited to bring a unique experience to Selfridges for brides, grooms and guests looking to celebrate weddings in a more earth-conscious way,” Manes said.

The news comes following widespread coverage of a report by the Finnish scientific journal Environmental Research Letters, which argued that some clothing rental services are higher in impact than many believe. While the model does keep materials in use, the report argued, many rental firms are buying large amounts of stock to rent and are using high-carbon transportation and cleaning solutions. Rental businesses in the UK have argued that the report did not paint a true picture of the domestic industry’s environmental footprint.

A second life for beauty packaging

In related news, beauty agency SEEN has launched a new recycling scheme for media professionals and beauty influencers, enabling them to recycle packaging from products such as cosmetics, fragrances and skincare.

Called ‘SEEN Again’, the scheme will see all professionals and influencers receiving samples or gifted products through SEEN also receiving a recycling bag. The bag will be collected by ReBOUND, which offers returns management solutions, and sent for processing by recycling company HANDLE.

HANDLE already has partnerships with salon and barber chains, online retailers and beauty brands themselves, but this is its first partnership with an agency. The firm’s website states that collected packaging is sorted into streams for recycling or, where this is not possible, for incineration to generate energy-from-waste. Recycled content is typically used to make new packaging or other items for the beauty industry, such as mirrors, combs and hairbrushes.

Brands that use SEEN for their media and influencer sampling and gifting include Fenty Beauty, Tatcha, Charlotte Tilbury and Shiseido. HANDLE has stated that it will, however, collect and process packaging from any brand.

SEEN Group said in a statement that the launch of the scheme comes as it is plotting a plan to become a business with a net-positive environmental impact. The firm’s chief executive Jane Walsh said: “Over-consumption is a global challenge. Until our business is fully circular, and all our brands are responsible from cradle-to-cradle, we believe we have a responsibility to offset the consumption trigger.

“SEEN Again is our way of serving our media collaborators with the opportunity to effortlessly do good and return their waste easily and responsibly.”

Think tanks have estimated that the global cosmetics and toiletries sector is producing 120 billion units of packaging a year - and that’s not to mention products such as plastic-stemmed cotton buds, wet wipes and individual dental floss sticks .

Sarah George



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