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Secondhand apparel market to overtake fast fashion in next 10 years

Published
today Mar 21, 2019
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According to secondhand fashion marketplace ThredUp’s 2019 Resale Report, the secondhand apparel market has been growing 21 times faster than retail apparel over the last three years and is on track to be larger than fast fashion by 2028.


Although millennials and boomers are currently the biggest secondhand consumers, the sector's rapid growth is being driven by Gen Z - Instagram: @thredup

 
The secondhand market, which is currently valued at $24 billion, is predicted to grow to $51 billion in 5-years time and is expected to be worth $64 billion by 2028, a figure 1.5 times larger than the fast fashion market’s predicted value of $44 billion.

These optimistic projections are bolstered by soaring consumer interest, with 64% of women included in ThredUp’s report saying that they had bought or were willing to buy secondhand products in 2018, up from 52% in 2017 and 45% in 2016.

Overall, 56 million women were found to have bought secondhand products in 2018, compared to 44 million in 2017.
 
According to the report, secondhand shoppers come from a range of different shopping backgrounds, with 26% of luxury consumers found to also make resale purchased, along with 25% of department store shoppers and 22% of value chain shoppers.
 
Overall, 51% of consumers said that they were expecting to spend more on secondhand products in the next five years. As shoppers shift their spending, the biggest losers are projected to be department stores, with 39% of survey respondents planning to spend less at these locations, while 30% thought they would be reducing their spending in value chains.

Although millennials and boomers are currently the biggest secondhand consumers, accounting for 33% and 31% of total resale shoppers, respectively, Generation Z was found to be the driving force behind the sector’s growth, with members of the demographic adopting secondhand fashion 2.5 times faster than any other age group.

ThredUp explained this rapid growth in the resale sector with the fact that it responds to the increasing demand for ecological sustainability among consumers, a trend particularly prevalent among younger shoppers. Indeed, according to the platform’s report, the percentage of consumers who prefer to buy from environmentally friendly brands rose from 57% in 2013 to 72% in 2018, while 59% of consumers now expect retailers to offer apparel which is ethical and sustainable.

Attitudes to long-term ownership are also changing, a phenomenon both reflected and popularised by hit Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Interestingly, ThredUp saw an 80% spike in requests for its Clean Out Kits following the series’ debut on the video-streaming platform.
 
With the sector looking so dynamic, it’s hardly surprising that other retailers are eager to get in on the circular fashion game. ThredUp found that 87% of senior retail executives wanted to explore resale by 2020, while 61% were keen to look into rental, and 52% are looking to test refurbishment.
 
“Even traditional retailers are starting to embrace secondhand,” said ThredUp co-founder and CEO James Reinhart. “The resale customer is no longer somebody else’s customer, they are everybody’s customer. Mass market or luxury, if people can find a high-quality product for much less, they’ll choose used. As the line between new and used apparel blurs for consumers, a powerful transformation in retail will unfold.”
 
ThredUp’s 2019 Resale Report uses data collected by GlobalData through a number of channels, including a survey of 2,000 American women over the age of 18, conducted in January 2019. As well as internal ThredUp consumer and performance data, the report also leverages figures from Green Story Research, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and a survey of senior retail executives.

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