A large pressure is reshaping the style trade: secondhand clothes. Based on a brand new report, the U.S. secondhand clothes market is projected to greater than triple in worth within the subsequent 10 years — from $28 billion in 2019 to $80 billion in 2029 — in a U.S. market presently value $379 billion. In 2019, secondhand clothes expanded 21 occasions sooner than typical attire retail did.
Much more transformative is secondhand clothes’s potential to dramatically alter the prominence of quick style — a enterprise mannequin characterised by low cost and disposable clothes that emerged within the early 2000s, epitomized by manufacturers reminiscent of H&M and Zara. Quick style grew exponentially over the subsequent 20 years, considerably altering the style panorama by producing extra clothes, distributing it sooner and inspiring customers to purchase in extra with low costs.
Whereas quick style is anticipated to proceed to develop 20 % within the subsequent 10 years, secondhand style is poised to develop 185 %.
As researchers who research clothes consumption and sustainability, we predict the secondhand clothes pattern has the potential to reshape the style trade and mitigate the trade’s detrimental environmental impression on the planet.
The subsequent huge factor
The secondhand clothes market consists of two main classes, thrift shops and resale platforms. However the latter largely has fueled the current growth. Secondhand clothes has lengthy been perceived as worn out and tainted, primarily sought by cut price or treasure hunters. Nonetheless, this notion has modified, and now many customers contemplate secondhand clothes to be of an identical and even superior high quality to unworn clothes. A pattern of “style flipping” — or shopping for secondhand garments and reselling them — additionally has emerged, notably amongst younger customers.
Whereas quick style is anticipated to proceed to develop 20% within the subsequent 10 years, secondhand style is poised to develop 185%.
Because of rising shopper demand and new digital platforms reminiscent of Tradesy and Poshmark that facilitate peer-to-peer alternate of on a regular basis clothes, the digital resale market is rapidly changing into the subsequent huge factor within the style trade.
The marketplace for secondhand luxurious items can also be substantial. Retailers reminiscent of The RealReal or the Vestiaire Collective present a digital market for authenticated luxurious consignment, the place individuals purchase and promote designer labels reminiscent of Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermès. The market worth of this sector reached $2 billion in 2019.
The secondhand clothes pattern additionally seems to be pushed by affordability, particularly now, through the COVID-19 financial disaster. Customers not solely have decreased their consumption of nonessential gadgets reminiscent of clothes, but in addition are shopping for extra high quality clothes over low cost, disposable apparel.
For clothes resellers, the continuing financial contraction mixed with the elevated curiosity in sustainability has confirmed to be a successful mixture.
Extra aware customers?
The style trade has lengthy been related to social and environmental issues, starting from poor remedy of garment employees to air pollution and waste generated by clothes manufacturing.
Lower than 1 % of supplies used to make clothes are recycled to make new clothes, a $500 billion annual loss for the style trade. The textile trade produces extra carbon emissions than the airline and maritime industries mixed. And about 20 % of water air pollution throughout the globe is the results of wastewater from the manufacturing and ending of textiles.
Customers have turn into extra conscious of the ecological impression of attire manufacturing and are extra regularly demanding attire companies increase their dedication to sustainability. Shopping for secondhand clothes may present customers a option to push again in opposition to the fast-fashion system.
Worldwide, up to now 15 years, the common variety of occasions a garment is worn earlier than it’s trashed has decreased by 36%.
Shopping for secondhand clothes will increase the variety of house owners an merchandise may have, extending its life — one thing dramatically shortened within the age of quick style. (Worldwide, up to now 15 years, the common variety of occasions a garment is worn earlier than it’s trashed has decreased by 36 %.)
Excessive-quality clothes traded within the secondhand market additionally retains its worth over time, in contrast to cheaper fast-fashion merchandise. Thus, shopping for a high-quality secondhand garment as an alternative of a brand new one is theoretically an environmental win. However some critics argue the secondhand market truly encourages extra consumption by increasing entry to low cost clothes.
Our newest analysis helps this chance. We interviewed younger American ladies who often use digital platforms reminiscent of Poshmark. They noticed secondhand clothes as a option to entry each low cost items and ones they ordinarily couldn’t afford. They didn’t see it instead mannequin of consumption or a option to lower dependence on new clothes manufacturing.
Regardless of the shopper motive, growing the reuse of clothes is a giant step towards a brand new regular within the style trade, though its potential to deal with sustainability woes stays to be seen.
This text is republished from The Dialog underneath a Inventive Commons license.