The upcoming and trendy way of selling and buying second-hand items are through e-commerce sites. There are many rising companies around the world that are operating in this industry, positioning themselves either on the luxury or mass market segments.
An interesting example is Thredup.com, which is an online second-hand shopping site operating in the USA, with many well-known brands sold for up to 90% discounted rates. Authenticity and the shape of the product are checked and audited by the company, and special designers and stylists are curating the collections for the consumers to enjoy shopping fashionable items for great prices.
According to the Thredup 2021 Resale Report, conducted by GlobalData, the total second-hand apparel market is expected to double within the next 5 years, reaching 77 billion USD. This major growth is expected to be driven by resales as it is becoming easier for the consumers to sell their second-hand items online.
From 2017 to 2019, the resale market has grown 21 times faster than retail apparel market. Although there has been a stagnation period in 2020, the figures of 2021 clearly show the sharp increase in the resale of second-hand items. This trend is expected to follow in the upcoming years to record a growth 11 times faster than retail clothing sector by 2025.
On the consumer side, the company is predicting that the sales of second-hand clothes will increase, as the “Instagram generation” is looking for both new looks and more sustainable products. There are also other factors such as affordability and being able to choose from a variety of products and to be able to re-sell and re-buy without creating huge masses of garbage.
Especially the millennials and Gen-Z are expected to be the leading customers of re-sold items of apparel, footwear and accessories as they assess their purchases with a different mindset. It is estimated that Gen Z is 165% more likely than Boomers to consider the value of resale value of clothing before buying it.
The post-pandemic consumer is also adopting a similar mindset: to save money on new purchases, to choose more sustainable products and to reduce the waste. Sustainability has become more of a priority and an increasing number of consumers are more conscious about the waste generated as a result of consumer habits.
According to an article published in Forbes magazine in 2019, the major 5 resale platforms in Europe are Depop from (UK), Edit Secondhand (UK), Rebelle (Germany), Verstiaire Collective (France), and Vinted (Lithuania). The online resale platforms have started operating in early 2000s and the number of platforms and the number of visitors is booming in the past decade.
Sweden based Sellpy is an online platform selling second-hand clothing, promoting the idea of living circular, and reducing the impact of our shopping behaviors by making second-hand clothing shopping easier and more accessible. The Fitzroy from Canada is another rental service mainly for wedding and party dresses. Gwynnie Bee Inc. is offering rental services for a wider selection of products for every-day use.
Rent the Runway, from the USA, is a similar platform for renting medium to high-end clothing, established in 2009 and is considered one of the pioneers in this industry. The company is focusing on the impact of consumer purchases that is reflected on the environment and aiming to disrupt the industry by renting second-hand clothes.
USA based The Real Real is a resale company focused on the circulation of luxury items, they carry high-end apparel and jewelry brands such as Gucci, Chanel, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Tiffany and Co., etc. According to their calculations, since the founding of the company through September 2021, consignment through The RealReal has kept 21+ million luxury items in circulation, while saving 1.07 billion liters of water and 21,801 metric tons of carbon. The company has generated a total revenue of approximately 300 million USD in 2020, with over 3,000 employees in 2021.
In addition to the online platforms and retail stores that are specifically focusing on the resale of second-hand clothing, more and more brands such as Banana Republic, Urban Outfitters, Levi’s, Ann Taylor, Reebok, Bloomingdale’s have also launched their rental programs, whether it is directly operated by their own company or outsourced to third parties to handle the dry-cleaning, logistics, packaging, etc.
It is estimated that the business of rental services of clothing and accessories are valued at 1 billion USD, and it is expected to reach 2.5 billion USD by 2023, according to GlobalData. When combined with resale, it will account for 13% of the total 360 billion USD clothing market in the USA within the decade, up from 7.3% today.
Adidas has introduced the Take Back programs in its various stores worldwide (first one in Brazil in 2012) where customers can bring their Adidas footwear or sportswear to the store, and these goods will then be sent to I:CO for sorting, with the aim of re-sale or recycle. In 2000, Adidas was listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices, and since 2001 the company has been preparing an annual sustainability report. In 2015, Adidas showcased an innovative footwear concept, where the footwear was produced from ocean plastic, by 2018 Adidas has produced 5 million pairs, and by 2019 the company has produced 11 million pairs of shoes with recycled ocean plastic.