Think Second-Hand First- The Fashion Re-sale Market

The re-sale fashion market will eclipse fast fashion in a decade. While fast fashion is expected to continue to grow 20% in the next 10 years, second-hand fashion is poised to grow by 185%. The growth of the online re-sale clothing market was evident long before Covid-19, fuelled by younger consumers turning their back on fast fashion for a more sustainable, affordable and creative way to shop for clothing.

Fashion re-sale also known as recommence sites is a large consumer market with lower prices allowing for a more diversely budgeted audience. The increase in purchases of second-hand clothing is due to a wide range of factors, one of which is the tighter budgets of many consumers throughout lockdown, with shoppers having little to no disposable income. Store shutdowns, temporarily and permanently, have played a part in the surge in second-hand shopping, to, with people unable shop from high street and charity shops stores now looking for an online alternative. Saving money isn’t the only motivation, with wider concerns about the environment and mass-consumerism urging people to buy and sell pre-owned goods.

“The production of clothing is incredibly resource intensive, re-wearing a garment and extending its lifespan by a mere nine months can help to reduce its environmental impact by up to 30%, so buying second-hand is an incredibly easy way to do this.”  sustainable fashion blogger, Charlotte

Fashion resale apps, stores and websites have seen an unprecedented growth throughout 2020. Lockdown gave consumers time to research into the effects of fast fashion and the need for keeping our garments in a cycle, rather than sending them to landfill. With lockdown giving an unlimited amount of time to deep-clean wardrobes, and the realisation of just how much is bought and not worn. As consumers embrace more affordable clothing instead of buying brand new. As well as reducing spending, online resale apps enable users to make money or earn an additional income. Whether consumer behaviour will change after the pandemic eases and this will only be temporary, we will have to wait and see. (Now people no longer have to stay home, sorting through old clothes may have less appeal) When money gets tight discounted clothing allows fashion to be a more accessible market to all. Many industry experts think this is a permanent move.

 A report published by ThredUp has shown that by 2029 the second-hand fashion market will have grown a worth of over 80 billion dollars. (Almost twice the size of the fast fashion market) The report also found that a record 33 million people bought second-hand clothing for the first time in 2020. Of these first-time buyers, 76% plan on increasing their share of resale purchases in the next five years.

On eBay, sales of pre-loved fashion have shot up in the UK over the past year, with the company selling more than 60 million used items. Murray Lambell, the general manager of eBay’s UK business, said: “There is definitely a change in mindset, driven by younger consumers up to the age of 30.” Trends in fashion come back around year after year, so recycling and archiving them for the next generation coupled with an appreciation of vintage design and a desire to create a more individual look beyond mass-produced fast fashion by Generation Z makes this a successful move.

But even though Generation Z is driving the second-hand revival( no pun intended), they’re not the only ones getting swept up in the trend. Emily Farra reported in Vogue in 2020 that in Lyst’s annual Year Fashion report, it revealed an 35,000 increase in searches for vintage fashion and a 104% increase in entries for second-hand-related keywords.

“It gives an item a second life, which is absolutely fantastic, not to mention how sustainable buying second hand is.” Cieran Harris, Company Director of Timeless Vintage Co

A decade ago, consumer attitudes toward pre-owned clothing was decidedly negative. This year has brought a shift in perspective with shoppers now being more open to purchasing from re-sellers than ever before. Any stigma around second-hand fashion being uncool or unhygienic has dissolved with customers now proud of their thrifted finds. The re-commerce market now has an aura of environmental and social responsibility. More brands are open to the idea that second-hand fashion is the way to revolutionise their sales and reach more consumers. (I will discuss this further in another blog post)

This means the new online marketplaces must work hard to stand out, spending more on marketing and advertising. Vinted (an app that lets users buy and sell pre-owned clothes) now advertise on national TV and was recently valued at 3.5 billion euros. I have successfully bought and sold on vinted for about 8 years. But be warned it can be addictive.

Resale will be an assumed part of the luxury buying experience,” Allison Sommer at Real Real

Although there’s still plenty of luck with buying second-hand, the Internet has become home to many, easily searchable re-sale sites. The second-hand clothing market is composed of two major categories, charity stops and re-sale platforms. But it’s the latter that has largely fuelled the recent boom. A trend of “fashion flipping” which is buying second-hand clothes and reselling them particularly popular among young consumers.

Researchers who study clothing consumption and sustainability, think the second-hand clothing trend has the potential to reshape the fashion industry mitigating the industry’s detrimental environmental impact on the planet. Even more transformative is second-hand clothing’s potential to dramatically alter the prominence of fast fashion (disposable) in the early 2000’s. More clothes were produced and distributed at lower costs, encouraging shoppers to buy more and often wear only once.

It could be that the trend for buying and selling used clothes ends up being a passing trend, once things go back to normal and we return to the high street. Or perhaps it is the way forward for buying fashion clothing?

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