It sounds crazy, but the company Re-Shirt is the first one with this striking new merchandise concept. And if you look at the facts, the idea is not as strange as it sounds.
Re-Shirt is an Austrian-based company that resells second-hand t-shirts. The idea sounds simple, but what sets them apart from other online shops is that every shirt comes with a personal story: Re-Shirts are used t-shirts with a history. The label on the shirts says: ‘each Re-Shirt tells a story about its owner’. Based on this idea, an entirely new type of merchandise trade was created that preserves resources in a particularly entertaining way. The three core values of the company are namely: re-search, re-use and re-think.
Re-search and Re-use
Re-Shirts represent a unique worldwide economic experiment. The question that plays central is: do products last longer if you know their history? The idea seems promising. Like a table made with reclaimed wood from some distant castle, a story can equate to desirability.
The idea behind Re-Shirts is that keeping existing resources in circulation is always more efficient than creating something new. It boosts the human mind to think of a way to share the cotton story and bring existing t-shirts to the marketplace in an inspiring way. That is when Re-Shirt—the idea of a t-shirt with a history—was sparked in the minds of Zacsek and Kodym, the owners of the company.
Although people respected the idea of keeping cotton resources in circulation, they needed to know the company is trustworthy. People feel attached to their stories and want to make sure Re-Shirt company respects the personal history embodied in their t-shirts.
These shirts are collected, quality inspected, washed and put on display at http://www.re-shirt.net. When one of these shirts is purchased, it is given its very own orange Re-Shirt Label, a code is printed on it and it begins a new registered life. Every future owner can now document the experiences they have with their Re-Shirt online and continue the story of this piece of clothing. Stories can be added on to the shirt’s history, perhaps increasing its value. Stories range from ‘It was too big for me,’ to more endearing tales like ‘Anne, who hand-washed her shirt for three days while vacationing in Brazil.’ Or a memorable event while wearing it: an important career step, a journey, an unforgettable concert. The original owner is able to follow their t-shirt online. Is it still ‘alive’? Which kinds of people did it get in-touch with? What things and happenings has it undergone?
If you go to the Re-Shirt homepage and type in the code, you will see the following story contributed by my Re-Shirt’s former owner.
If you become a Re-Shirt user, type in your shirt code and keep on writing the story. The longer a shirt is in use the more it helps to keep existing cotton resources in circulation.
Each year more than 20 million tons of cotton are produced. On average, 20,000 liters of water is needed to produce 1 kilogram of raw cotton. The extreme amounts of water needed for growing cotton have resulted among other things in the drying up of the Aral Sea-one of the biggest environmental catastrophes of our time. Approximately 10% of the pesticides produced worldwide are used in cotton growing. About 30 megajoules is needed to produce 1 kilogram of raw cotton fibres
Re-Shirts saves resources in a completely new way. Every Re-Shirt story makes a difference, if we have to believe the company that is. While an admirable effort to help the environment is noble, this is also a great example of how one’s sentimental value can become actual currency.