Online secondhand clothing is the fashion industry’s hottest trend

Picture of Magdalena Zaremba
Magdalena Zaremba

Researcher and Outreach Specialist at Divante

Care to share?

Fast fashion has revolutionized our approach to shopping. Since we can get a new T-shirt for the price of a McDonald’s sandwich, we get rid of worn-out clothes and quickly replace them with new ones. However, the low price of a T-shirt has a hidden cost. Cheap clothes can destroy our planet and our health.

Every second, a truck full of clothes and apparel is sent to the landfill. This statistic can look a bit scary, but luckily, trends in the fashion industry are starting to change.

The fast fashion trend leads to changes

The report, "The State of Fashion," by McKinsey & Company shows that the economic profit of companies in the fashion industry decreased by 90% in 2020. A year earlier, it increased by 4%.

When covid forced us to stay at home and gave us an uncertain vision for the future, we began to change our approach to fashion. Resale has become one of the fastest-growing consumer behaviors. In the US alone, over 33 million consumers bought second-hand apparel for the first time in 2020. The resale market is projected to double in the next five years, reaching $77 billion. In the United States, there are over 25,000 physical resale stores and a similar number of resale stores exist online.

The most prominent players are trying to respond to this global switch. Even high-fashion brands, like Gucci, have introduced virtual concept stores. The general idea is to offer vintage Gucci pieces that worldwide collectors have. Creative director Alessandro Michele will recondition it and sometimes even customize it.

A recommerce store as a part of the strategy

Patagonia Worn Wear: The stories we wear

Source: https://wornwear.patagonia.com/

When you think about a significant event in the past, do you remember what you wore then? Especially if we buy clothes for outdoor activities, we usually have many exciting memories. The clothes we wear experience our daily routine, ups and downs, moments when we feel like kings of the world, and those when we would like to hide somewhere underground.

Worn Wear by Patagonia is more than just reselling old clothes. It’s about sharing these stories. To submit a story, all you need to do is to send the description in 500 words or less and attach a high-res digital or scanned photo of adventuring in your piece of gear. 

“Not Just a Jacket - Part of My Identity!”

Zach Snyder. Grand Rapids, MI.

 

Zalando Pre-owned

Zalando doesn’t need to be introduced. With the Zalando Pre-owned concept, you can send the items to Zalando, and in return, you’ll receive funds to spend on the website to buy something new or buy something right away from a secondhand wardrobe. 

After sending your items, you get funds to use in the store. The entire amount can be donated to charity, but you must remember that all the costs, such as checking the clothes, storing them, and shipping will be included in the price.

Nike Refurbished

Nike Refurbished extends the life of products by taking like new, gently worn, and slightly imperfect sneakers. They refurbish them by hand and offer them to customers at the Nike factory, Nike Unite, and Nike Community Stores.

Source: https://www.nike.com/sustainability/nike-refurbished 

The service is available at launch in up to 15 U.S. Nike stores. With plans to continue scaling, Nike Refurbished is another example of Nike creating solutions at scale to help reduce its waste footprint.

The most popular online thrift stores around the world

Thrift+

Joe Metcalfe, the founder of Thrifft+, left his job in 2014. His mission was to bring charity shops online. One year later, he built and launched the UK's first click and collect app for high street charity shops.

The company's platform collects and sells clothes that have been worn and donates part of the proceeds to charity. The platform also gives back some funds as credit, enabling users to improve the end-to-end process of provinding secondhand clothes.

Thrift+ is founded on the belief that charity shoppers deserve the same quality shopping experience as regular shoppers. They deserve better!

Thrift+, Our story

thredUP

thredUP is the world’s largest fashion resale platform. The idea is to inspire a new generation of customers to think secondhand first. The company has spent the past 10 years reinventing resale by building a marketplace and infrastructure. Now, it has annual revenue of $251.8 million, representing 35% growth year-over-year.

They’re sharing the idea of a more sustainable fashion future. Millions of consumers use thredUP as the easiest way to sell their clothes and to shop online for over 35,000 brands. If you want to buy products in-store, you can use the “try-before-you-buy” Goody Box service.

Grailed

Grailed is like the holy grail of eCommerce. It’s the largest online marketplace to buy and sell menswear located in New York. Unlike many other popular resale sites, Grailed is seller friendly, and the selling fees are kept as low as possible. As of 2021, Grailed lists about 3 million clothing items from around 7 million users on its platform. 

How can reselling clothes affect your brand?

Having a secondhand business gives the control back to the fashion brands. It provides new ways to create exciting experiences with consumers when they resell their clothes and when they are looking for new-to-them secondhand garments.

In the era of fast fashion and ever-changing trends, society forgets about the consequences of irresponsible consumerism. The statistics on the textile industry are frightening, and the effects of its activities affect all of us.

What will your brand gain by focusing on resale:

  • Promoting eco trends and sustainability.
  • Building an image of a socially responsible company.
  • Supporting charitable organizations.

According to Emily Gittins, the founder of full-service resale company Archive, luxury brands adopting resale will normalize buying secondhand. It’ll also expedite the growth of the secondhand industry even further.

How to approach the recommerce strategy?

The fashion industry is changing faster than ever. Some brands will think that secondhand is an interesting subject, but they will think about solutions in the future. These brands are already late. Now, sustainability and resale should be on the top of the priority list. However, figuring out the exact strategy can be challenging.

What do you need to consider to build a reselling business model that delivers a return on investment?

How to refurbish goods

Brands must decide how to refurbish goods. They also need to decide whether to handle this process themselves or set up networks of certified partners.

Pricing model

Pricing is probably one of the most important aspects of growing your reselling business. Tools on sites like eBay or Grailed help you see how much a particular item has sold for in the past. You have to decide if you’ll let your customers set the price of the products they want to sell or, after reviewing the items, you’ll suggest the price yourself.

Picking the right platform

Marketplaces are typically divided into three formats. Those are traditional secondhand stores or markets, managed marketplaces, like ThredUp, and peer-to-peer marketplaces, like Etsy or eBay.

Another way to go is to build your own marketplace. A headless marketplace solution allows you to efficiently manage multiple partners and channels connected to your online store.

Choosing recommerce and logistics partners

If your brand can’t resell your secondhand goods or develop a digital platform, establish a partnership with a resale platform that does. For example, Walmart is working with thredUp to increase consumer access to used women’s and children’s clothing. 

Brands such as Patagonia and REI have a behind-the-scenes resale platform. On the other hand, a direct-to-consumer marketplace powers Mara Hoffman. You have to choose a solution that will fit your business needs best.

Becoming a sustainability-first brand

You can’t underestimate the potential of resale. There are many ways to approach this subject, and searching for the right solution for your business can be a real game changer. Still, the most important thing is to test new ideas, research and validate sustainable business models to embrace growth, and follow the trends that are important for your customers. If you want a consultation about the best solution for your business, our eCommerce experts are happy to talk about the possibilities.

Published July 5, 2022