Booming secondhand clothes gross sales may assist curb the sustainability disaster in trend

A large pressure is reshaping the style business: secondhand clothes. In keeping with 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 trend — a enterprise mannequin characterised by low cost and disposable clothes that emerged within the early 2000s, epitomized by manufacturers akin to H&M and Zara. Quick trend grew exponentially over the following 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 trend is anticipated to proceed to develop 20 % within the subsequent 10 years, secondhand trend is poised to develop 185 %.

As researchers who research clothes consumption and sustainability, we expect the secondhand clothes development has the potential to reshape the style business and mitigate the business’s detrimental environmental influence on the planet.

The subsequent large factor

The secondhand clothes market consists of two main classes, thrift shops and resale platforms. However the latter largely has fueled the latest increase. 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 similar and even superior high quality to unworn clothes. A development of “trend flipping” — or shopping for secondhand garments and reselling them — additionally has emerged, significantly amongst younger customers.

Whereas quick trend is anticipated to proceed to develop 20% within the subsequent 10 years, secondhand trend is poised to develop 185%.

Because of rising shopper demand and new digital platforms akin to Tradesy and Poshmark that facilitate peer-to-peer change of on a regular basis clothes, the digital resale market is rapidly turning into the following large factor within the trend business.

The marketplace for secondhand luxurious items can also be substantial. Retailers akin to The RealReal or the Vestiaire Collective present a digital market for authenticated luxurious consignment, the place individuals purchase and promote designer labels akin to Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermès. The market worth of this sector reached $2 billion in 2019.

The secondhand clothes development additionally seems to be pushed by affordability, particularly now, in the course of the COVID-19 financial disaster. Shoppers not solely have diminished their consumption of nonessential gadgets akin to clothes, but in addition are shopping for extra high quality clothes over low cost, disposable apparel.

For clothes resellers, the continued financial contraction mixed with the elevated curiosity in sustainability has confirmed to be a profitable mixture.

Extra conscious customers?

The style business has lengthy been related to social and environmental issues, starting from poor therapy 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 business. The textile business 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.

Shoppers have grow to be extra conscious of the ecological influence of attire manufacturing and are extra regularly demanding attire companies broaden their dedication to sustainability. Shopping for secondhand clothes may present customers a solution to push again in opposition to the fast-fashion system.

Worldwide, prior 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 homeowners an merchandise can have, extending its life — one thing dramatically shortened within the age of quick trend. (Worldwide, prior 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 a substitute of a brand new one is theoretically an environmental win. However some critics argue the secondhand market really encourages extra consumption by increasing entry to low cost clothes.

Our newest analysis helps this chance. We interviewed younger American girls who usually use digital platforms akin to Poshmark. They noticed secondhand clothes as a solution to entry each low cost items and ones they ordinarily couldn’t afford. They didn’t see it instead mannequin of consumption or a solution to lower dependence on new clothes manufacturing.

Regardless of the shopper motive, rising the reuse of clothes is a giant step towards a brand new regular within the trend business, though its potential to deal with sustainability woes stays to be seen.

This text is republished from The Dialog underneath a Inventive Commons license.

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