Rise of the resale business in the retail world

The second-hand clothing business has become an integral part of the fashion world. More and more brands are getting involved in the resale segment of the industry. According to Statista, “The global market value of second-hand and resale clothing was estimated at US$96 billion in 2021.”

Recently, Amazon partnered with luxury vintage clothing company What Goes Around Comes Around to sell the high-end brand’s merchandise on its website. The interesting thing about this partnership is that many of the luxury brands that Amazon will now stock as a result of the partnership are the very brands that had rejected Amazon’s requests to sell on their site.

generation exchange

In the resale business, consumer behavior seems to change with age. The RealReal reported that more than half of its sellers in 2021 were Generation X or older, or at least 42 years old. And younger shoppers are the ones who buy these second-hand clothes the most.

In 2021, 42% of Millennials and Gen Z respondents to a global survey said they would be likely to buy second-hand items.

On average, online second-hand shoppers in the United States spent nearly $340 reselling apparel items in 2021.

Younger generations are drawn to these second-hand goods, not only because they often cost less, but also because they are more environmentally friendly. Nowadays, the ability to buy second-hand clothes through apps and websites also makes the process a lot easier instead of having to browse shelves in a physical store.

Nordstrom launched what they call their re-commerce experience, See You Tomorrow, an online marketplace and physical in-store experience at Nordstrom’s flagship store in NYC. A place where shoppers can buy used clothing and accessories and also get involved by contributing their own used items through a customer onboarding program.

earth conscious

Reselling used items isn’t the only way brands appeal to younger generations. Zara has partnered with LanzaTech, a biotech company, to focus on sustainability by making clothes from captured carbon emissions.

This partnership marks the first time clothing made from captured carbon emissions has been made available for sale.

“LanzaTech has the technology that can help fashion brands and retailers limit their carbon emissions. By working with Zara, we have found a new way to recycle carbon emissions to make fabrics,” said Jennifer Holmgren, Chief Executive at LanzaTech. The company is also partnering with Lulu Lemon to make garments from captured carbon emissions.

Many retailers have also equipped their stores with clothing donation bins and are marketing the initiatives as an eco-friendly element of fast fashion. H&M has added these bins to more than 4,200 of its stores worldwide, stating that used donated parts can be put to a new use. However, the scheme has drawn criticism considering that fast fashion accounts for the largest share of the sheer amount of textiles that end up in landfills.

Approximately 85% of unwanted textiles in North America end up in landfills – that’s more than 11 billion kilograms each year. Recycling clothes into new garments is very expensive and difficult. H&M’s 2018 Sustainability Report states that of all the materials used to make its estimated half a billion pieces of clothing each year, only 0.7% is recycled material. However, the company also stated in the report that its goal is to use 100% recycled or other sustainably sourced materials by 2030 at the latest.

Zara is another company that has provided donation bins in its stores and has now also entered the resale market with its own peer-to-peer shopping platform in the UK called Zara Pre-Owned. As well as reselling used Zara clothing, the platform will allow shoppers to request repairs for used Zara clothing items from any season and arrange for donations to be collected from their homes.

According to ThredUp’s 10th Annual Resale Report, the global second-hand apparel market will grow 127% by 2026 – three times faster than the global apparel market as a whole. And the US used goods market will more than double by 2026 to reach $82 billion.


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