Marie Kondo inspired us to throw away all our non-joyous items, sparking what’s now a booming resale apparel market. So just how big is the industry capitalizing on secondhand goods? Fashion resale destination site thredUp reveals it’s a $24 billion market, projected to double to $51 billion by 2024.
The 2019 thredUp Resale Report, in conjunction with GlobalData, analyzed the trends and drivers pushing this revitalized sector. Researchers found that 56 million women bought secondhand products in 2018, an increase of 12 million new secondhand shoppers from the year prior. And they’re not done yet: 51% of resale shoppers plan to spend even more on thrift in the next five years.
“The last few years of growth in resale have been driven by early adopters, but now skeptics are coming around in droves,” James Reinhart, founder and CEO of thredUP, said in a press statement. “The ‘resale customer’ is no longer a niche group–it’s everyone.”
ThredUp reports that increased growth can be credited to millennials and gen-Z, who adopt secondhand items 2.5 times faster than the average consumer. This is partially because they prefer to wear the latest styles, meaning last season’s fads get quickly deposited through the thrift cycle. According to the report, it’s why secondhand, rental, and subscription are the top three fastest-growing retail categories.
As Fast Company reported, millennials depend on secondhand sites such as ThredUp or The RealReal to upkeep their wardrobes. They start as first-time buyers, enjoying a discounted designer item until they eventually tire of it and resell it. They then take the money earned to the primary market–to, say, Neiman Marcus, where they buy a new high-end item. Once it’s been seen enough times by their social group, they sell it in the consignment space.
Then the process repeats itself. (In a way, they’re learning about investment, depreciation, and retaining value, but in the context of designer fashion.) Many are said to be influenced by Instagram, where they feel they can only show off a style or statement piece once or twice before it need be “retired.”
Thredup report’s also found that:
- As consumers partake in the resale market, they now own 28 fewer items, on average, than two years ago.
- The resale market grew 21 times faster than apparel retail over the past three years.
- 72% of secondhand shoppers shifted spend away from traditional retailers to buy more used items.
- The secondhand clothing industry is expected to grow 1.5 times the size of fast fashion within 10 years.
- One-third of consumers polled by ThredUp said they would spend more with their favorite retailers if those retailers also sold secondhand apparel.
The findings confirm what several industry analysts predicted would happen in tandem with the “Kondo Effect”—that fast fashion would increasingly lose its luster. Millennials, keen on socially conscious brands and environmentally friendly practices, seem to favor recycled items over justifying the need for new ones. Cheap, disposable clothing, it could be said, is going out of fashion.
Read the full report here.