Will second-hand overtake fast fashion ?

Will second-hand overtake fast fashion ?

According to thredUP's annual report, within the next 10 years the second-hand fashion market will be larger than fast fashion's market.

Resale Market (second-hand)
2008 → $9B
2018 → $24B
2028 → $64B (projection)

Fast Fashion Market
2008 → $21B
2018 → $35B
2028 → $44B (projection)

In 2028, the second-hand market would be almost one and a half the size of fast fashion.

Is the second-hand market going to become larger than fast fashion?

It’s hard to say. On the one hand, I do believe that it can happen. On the other hand, it seems too good to be true.

Still I think it’s very good news.

Because THE most sustainable garment is the one that already exists.

We do have to keep in mind synthetic fibers and microplastics when washing but buying second-hand is a very good thing for the environment.

So why did the resale market experienced such a rapid growth?

First of all, the stigma is fading and more people are okay with buying second-hand clothes that used to belong to someone else.

Secondly, technology is disrupting the market. Websites like thredUP, poshmark, the real real allow everyone to sell their used clothes online. That wasn’t possible before. For example, thredUP can create up to 100 000 unique online items every day. That’s huge.

More people are aware of the negative environmental (and social) impact of buying new clothes.

The price is low. Sometimes lower than fast fashion.

Linen flax flower

Some iconic fast fashion retailers had trouble lately:

H&M published their historic worst figures in the first quarter of 2018.

Forever 21 has filed for bankruptcy in the US and closed 350 stores in 2019.

Maybe they didn't start selling online fast enough (faster online retailers are growing), maybe resale is taking the market or maybe everyone already has too many clothes.

We'll find that out in the next decade for sure !


Ugo DutilWritten by Ugo Dutil :
I grew up in the ecovillage Cite Ecologique. I like this way of life that values human relationships, sustainable development and personal growth. I’ve been working with Respecterre since 2013. I'm fascinated by hemp, minimalism, slow fashion, local supply chains, zero waste, viscose production and transparency.


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  • KF

    I think fast fashion is feeding the second-hand clothing growth. If it wasn’t for fast fashion, people wouldn’t be giving up their clothes (donating them for second-hand) and buying more. Part of the acceptance of second-hand is the impression that these clothes haven’t been worn for long and may only be one-year old in terms of “fashion”.

    It would be interesting to see what would happen to the second-hand clothing industry if there weren’t so many disposable clothes around in the first place because of fast fashion.

    I’d love to see more sustainable brands available as I search through second-hand shops. When those clothes are more available as “second-hand” that might signal a shift in thinking and actions in terms of the general public towards fashion. Especially if they were so durable that someone could donate them after 5 – 10 years of wearing.

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