As someone who thrifts a considerable amount of my wardrobe to help create a circular economy, Plato’s Closet is a place I regularly turn to, to not only acquire new items but to get rid of the clothing I don’t wear anymore. Although I believe that thrifting is one of the most sustainable methods to acquire new items, the large companies like Plato's closet that provide these services are not necessarily on the same page. From the limited information on Plato’s Closet and their practices, it seems that this may be the case, as the company as a whole doesn’t appear to be aligned with the services they are providing. For Plato's to be considered a more sustainable option I think that they need to integrate sustainable practices into their business model, instead of just highlighting how their process is sustainable. Although this is the case, I wouldn't write off Plato's closet when looking for a place to thrift. At the end of the day, the service they're providing is still one of the best ways to consume clothing, in my opinion, which is an important service for shoppers within the dominance of fast fashion culture.
Plato’s Closet is a resale store focusing on trendy teen fashion. They acquire their clothing from sellers who bring in gently used clothing from their closets. They then go through the items and offer the seller an amount (about 30% - 40% of what they sell the item for) for the clothing based on condition, brand, etc. After they purchase the items, they then sell them in the store for about 70% off of their retail price starting around $3 and increasing from there. The concept of buying clothing from closets and reselling them to consumers in itself is sustainable. Because the clothes are bought and sold locally, I would consider Plato's to be more sustainable than reselling apps like Poshmark or Depop since the items are not shipped across countries from the previous consumer to the new consumer. Because it’s a local process, similar to donation sites and thrift stores, I would consider what makes up Plato’s Closet is sustainable.
Plato’s Closet consists of multiple stores scattered across the United States which are different franchises owned separately. Since the clothing sold in stores is from sellers' closets, it's not certain that this clothing is being produced sustainably. It seems to be the opposite actually, as Plato’s Closet wants clothing from trendy fast fashion brands like Forever 21 and H & M, which almost defeats the sustainable part of their company. If the clothing is cheaply made or very trendy, it might still end up in a landfill within months of being purchased from Plato’s which isn’t sustainable. Plato's also doesn't disclose what they do with clothing if it goes out of style or doesn't, which raises questions if they contribute to waste in landfills after a certain time period. When searching for information for how Plato's treats their employees, all I could find were reviews from the employees on how it was to work at each store. Since every store is owned by different people, it's hard to judge how the company treats its employees. Plato’s Closet and their parent company should present more transparency about their workplace policies to be evaluated higher in this category.
While the service that Plato’s Closet offers is one of the most sustainable ways to purchase clothing, in my opinion, the company doesn’t appear to align with these values. Plato’s Closet has limited information on their website about sustainable practices if any, basically disclosing that as a consumer you are helping the planet by donating your clothes shopping from their stores. Plato’s Closet is owned by the larger corporation Winmark, which is a corporation that owns franchises that sell quality second-hand goods alongside new goods in a retail format. Winmark doesn’t seem to be focused on sustainability, as there is no information or initiatives on the subject whatsoever on their website. This is concerning because if the company that owns Plato's has no intention of being sustainable, then how sustainable can their Plato closet franchises be. Although this is the case, one thing that I have to applaud Plato's closet on is its commitment to bringing trendy styles to teens for more affordable prices, which increases accessibility. But because the company doesn’t have a focus on sustainability overall, it seems like the information they do have about sustainability is greenwashing. To improve, I would recommend that Winmark looks into incorporating sustainable initiatives and practices into their company, and then trickling those practices down to their multiple brands. If a major corporation like Winnamrk, introduces these practices at the corporate level, they will more likely be introduced into the franchisees themselves. Only then will Plato's closet be on the right path to becoming truly sustainable.