Second Hand Clothing Market is set to Surpass Fast Fashion Market

Israt Jahan Eusha,

Research Assistant, Textile Focus

An Overview of Second Hand Clothing Market

We’re in the middle of fashion waste crossroad where second-hand clothing can really come to the aid of Mother Nature. It is high time we start thinking globally while acting locally. The skills of making, repairing and patching can contribute in the atonement of the repercussions created by a hyper-consumerist world. Fast fashion is like fast food which just leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Therefore second-hand clothing can lend a hand to rescue the consumers from letting the earth perish in the trap of fast fashion. A saying goes that waste isn’t waste until we waste them. So, second hand clothing should not be considered as waste but it can be used as a getaway car from wastage.


Second-Hand Clothing are here to stay

The current growth rate for adopting used goods is 37% for the year 2017 and 46% for the year 2018. There are multiple attributes behind the lastingness of Second Hand Clothing.

Get goods while paying good

Research from ThredUP’s has found that shoppers from all price level are buying secondhand clothes. 26% of shoppers buy used goods at the luxury retail end. The buying tendency stands at 22-25% depending on discounts in the mid-market.

Fashion without costing the Earthimage006

5Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Reinvent and Repair should be considered to attain sustainability. Fashion is the 2nd largest polluting industry in the world. Fabrics aren’t biodegradable, and industry’s raw materials consume a vast amount of resources and leave behind huge levels of pollution and emissions. According to The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, around 20% of the world’s wastewater and 10% of carbon emission comes from the fashion industry. Also, 64% of what we buy ends up in landfills. Buying used goods instead of new extend the cloth’s life and reduce the garment’s carbon footprint by 82%.

Re-use, Re-wear, Re-love

By doubling the ‘useful life of clothing’ from one year to two years, 24% of emission can be reduced over the year. [

By extending the life of clothing by 9 months, around 20-30% carbon, waste and water footprints can be reduced. [

In such circumstances, millennials are embracing the trend with 33% of shoppers buying used clothes. Gen X is a long way behind at 20% while Gen Z, the new kids on the block, at 16%. Whereas, 31% of Boomers are in the race of consuming used clothes.


Second Hand Clothing around the World

The second hand clothes sector now is a big employer in East Africa, both directly and indirectly, largely in sales and distribution. Second hand clothing and accessory stores in Asian countries like Japan, Thailand and China are looking to expand into other neighbors where demand for used goods is rising.

The earlier concept of charity is getting replaced by business owners and private operators who get exports from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands. The market is booming in Eastern European countries where the mushrooming of second hand stores in Poland, Bulgaria, Croatia and Hungary is a good indicator in the last eight years. More and more consumers are now driving an explosive growth in the fashion industry in Latin American countries like Brazil and Argentina.

The main countries where used clothes are welcome are Panama, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua where thousands of people’s biggest attraction is the second hand section where donated clothes from United States.

Precursor behind Second Hand Clothing’s Popularity

Local businesses are getting expansion through social media and online advertising. Smartphones have enabled consumers to photograph, pack and send their unwanted clothes and to monitor their clothes’ journey through the process. That has transformed the catchment area of a secondhand store from its immediate catchment area to anywhere.

This could be partially due to the popularity of organization guru Marie Kondo. ThredUp says it saw an 80% spike in ‘Clean out Kits’ which means the bags of clothing people send in for resale when Kondo’s show ‘Tidying Up with Marie Condo’ aired on Netflix.

It used to have a stigma of being only for poor people. With the word “old” now being replaced by “vintage” and accompanied by the trendy value of “authentic,” second hand’s star is now rising and the stigma is gone for a lot of people.

Pioneers of Second Hand Clothing

‘StitchFix’, ‘ThredUp’, ‘Rent-the-Runway’, ‘The RealReal’, ‘Poshmark’ and ‘Vestiaire Collective’ are just some of the pioneers defining the new frontier of shopping for clothes, from fashion subscription services to the re-sale revolution, to peer-to-peer marketplaces that is changing how we consume fashion. Online businesses like these and many others are attracting consumers from many other channels.

Haute Couture and Second Hand Clothing                                                             

image011Founder and CEO of ‘The RealReal’ Julie Wainwright said she wanted to change the perception of consignment businesses and her company now also has two stores and nine drop-off points in the U.S.

Items from luxury labels Burberry, Alexander McQueen and Versace are likely to attract the top resale prices in the upscale market.

Market Growth of Second Hand Clothing over Fast Fashion

A cloth has an average lifetime of 3 years and almost 100% of textiles and clothing are recyclable. Therefore, 70% of people of the world uses second hand clothing. Based on ThredUp’s 2018 Resale Report, the second-hand apparel retail is a $20-billion industry globally and its significant growth will outpace traditional retail. The projected growth rate of used clothes is 15% annually over the next three years according to the growing trend within the apparel industry. On the other hand, traditional retail has only 2% projected annual growth.


Secondhand Will Be Larger Than Fast Fashion within 10 Years

At present apparel segment is expected to grow 24 times faster than fresh retail sale because it shares the pie part of whopping 41 per cent from the resale segment. Thus, resale is capturing market share and the global resale market for apparel will reach $51 billion by 2029, according to ThreadUp’s resale report 2019.   image015

The global resale market for apparel will reach $51 billion by 2029

Within next 5 Years, 51% of consumers plan to spend more on Second Hand clothing where merely 1% plans to spend less. On the contrary, 12% of consumers plan to spend more on Fast Fashion in the next 5 years where 20% of them are planning to spend less for such clothing.

A Forebode to the Local Textile Industries?

Many trade gurus are assuming that second-hand clothing has a negative outcome on local textile and apparel business. Consumers will start ignoring local apparel brands with the inundation of reasonably priced second hand clothing.

Even the export of second-hand clothing from North America and Europe to emerging economies have already attracted controversies. In Europe, the crisis for second-hand clothing industry stems from the fact that some of the rich nations of Europe are going through an economic crunch. There are also some companies based in Canada and the United States that are illegally dumping used clothing in India. Used clothing sector has increased the burden on an already fragile domestic industry in Africa.

Skeptics fear about lagging growth of domestic textile and apparel industry because of the convenience of cheap Second Hand clothing.

As sustainable fashion becomes a necessity as well as a trend, shoppers are looking to fill their closets in different ways. Due to the high amount of clothing that ends up in landfills, choosing to donate and shop for clothing at thrift stores of vintages stores can be a more healthy option for our environment.