Consumers embrace secondhand clothing and accessories

By Rieva Lesonsky

Secondhand apparel and accessories are bringing new profits to businesses everywhere, according to the  thredUP 2019 Resale Report from thredUP, the world’s largest online secondhand shopping destination. “The resale market has grown 21 times faster than the retail apparel market over the past three years, and it’s projected to grow from a $24 billion market today to $51 billion by 2023,” the report says.

More from the thredUP Resale Report:

  • 64% of women over 18 already bought or were willing to buy secondhand products last year, up from 52% in 2017 and 45% in 2016.
  • 56 million women bought secondhand goods in 2018, up from 44 million in 2017.
  • Millennials are the biggest buyers of secondhand goods (33%), though baby boomers are close behind (31%), followed by 20% of Gen X and 16% of Gen Z.
  • Consumers age 18-37 (millennials and Gen Z) are buying secondhand apparel 2.5 times faster than other age groups
  • Overall, people have less stuff in their closets—the report says this year the average consumer will have 136 items in their closet, down from 147 last year and 164 in 2017.

Part of the closet purge is driven by the Marie Kondo craze. It’s anyone’s guess how long consumers will be accessing which of their possessions “spark joy” and which they can get rid of. However, increasing concerns over sustainability are also a factor in the resale revolution, and these likely have more staying power.

ThredUP is hardly the only company profiting from the secondhand surge. Companies already in the market take different approaches ranging from consignment (The RealReal) to peer-to-peer (Poshmark) to rental services (Rent the Runway).

If you’re thinking about getting into selling secondhand merchandise, the thredUP report says you’d better move fast. A whopping 96% of senior retail execs surveyed want to enter the secondhand market by 2020 to boost revenue, embrace sustainability, gain customer loyalty, attract new customers and increase store or website traffic.

Right now, the report says, the items with the most resale value are leather backpacks, crossbody bags, winter coats and leather boots.

Photo courtesy Poshmark