While fashion constantly renews itself, it continues to feed on the past with an influence from the vintage trend. We see that the fashion industry has entered a much more sustainable path after the pandemic. There is no doubt that the second-hand market in the fashion industry is growing very quickly, thanks to online sales and digital initiatives.
The second-hand fashion trend is not only a change in the product purchasing process, but also a phenomenon that allows one to remember how valuable the norms that stand against the rapid aging of fashion are. Resale, vintage and second-hand trends are not really new concepts. However, online platforms that offer a hybrid approach with rapidly developing technology in the last decade have created a large customer base in the second-hand fashion market.
The second-hand clothing trend has taken a solid place in the market as an affordable and sustainable alternative, especially after Covid-19. US-based second-hand online store thredUP has published the 2021 Resale Report, which it carries out in partnership with GlobalData. According to the report, the second-hand fashion market, which is expected to be twice the size of fast fashion by 2030, will grow much faster than traditional retail in the next 10 years. Karen Clark, thredUP’s vice president of communications, told WWD that the second-hand clothing trend has the ability to change fashion.
What awaits second-hand fashion in the future, following the successive innovations and developments in the fashion industry? Is it a temporary trend or a turning point that will shape fashion? Let’s deep dive into the second-hand, resale and vintage trends in the apparel market.
Resale is the fresh path
Did you know that one out of every two people throws their clothes straight in the trash? The number of consumers using second-hand fashion products increased by 64 percent compared to 2016 and this rate continues to increase day by day. The pandemic has changed our perceptions of consumption and shopping in various ways. Fast fashion is expected to continue to grow by 20 percent over the next 10 years, while second-hand fashion is expected to grow by 185 percent.
A research conducted by thredUP on consumers reveals that one-third of consumers care more about wearing sustainable clothing than before the pandemic. The Fashion of Resale report estimates that the global second-hand fashion market is currently worth $130 billion. The report also revealed that only 5 percent to 7 percent of secondhand fashion is currently on sale, with an estimated $2.1 trillion of fashion items not being used in closets.
Maximilian Bittner, CEO of Vestiaire Collective, a Paris-based second-hand sales platform with more than 10 million users worldwide, shared his thoughts on the future of second-hand fashion with McKinsey’s Miriam Lobis and Monica Toriello. “It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world adopts the habit of buying and selling used clothing that many young consumers already have. By extending the life cycle of the products you wear by nine months, you can contribute to reducing carbon emissions by 30 percent in the fashion industry, and up to 90 percent by purchasing second-hand bags,” Bittner says, emphasizing that the consumption style in the second-hand fashion trend focuses on sustainability and that the negative effects of fashion can be reduced.
Vintage: Always new
Our fascination with the past is nothing new. While vintage products that reflect the spirit of the past have been targeting a certain consumer group for many years, today we are faced with a more conscious consumer towards vintage products. Selfridges, the British store chain serving the luxury segment, entered a new chapter in its history with the Project Earth project. Centering on sustainability and developing in parallel with changing consumption habits, the project is the beginning of a new journey for Selfridges.
“Now we must redouble our efforts to reinvent retail with a regenerative way of working that is at the center of sustainability, people and nature. Achieving our goals will not be easy, but we are ready to work with our team members, partners and customers to create change together and explore the possibilities for a sustainable future”, says Alannah Weston, CEO of Selfridges, emphasizing the necessity of recycling and sustainability in the luxury segment.
Within the scope of the project, the store RESELLFRIDGES, which supports the second-hand fashion market, gives place to the sale of vintage second-hand products with its resell project. Another part of the same project scope, Resellfridges: The Wedding presents a selection of vintage wedding dresses that are almost impossible to find by Marie Blanchet, the founder of Mon Vintage brand.
The luxury giant Kering Group, which includes brands such as Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga, has acquired a five percent stake in French high-end vintage sales platform Vestiaire Collective. While the fashion industry is expected to take the biggest financial hit in decades during the pandemic, the resale industry is booming.
With the limited resources of the industry and the negative consequences of rapid consumption, the transition to sustainable models in fashion has become an important need. Sustainable activities such as increasing recycling activities and choosing ecological raw materials started to increase day by day. Including reusable resources in the recycling chain after separation is among the measures that reduce environmental pollution and carbon emissions.
According to the report The Second Hand Effect, if everyone bought a second-hand garment in 2020 instead of a new one, we would have saved 5.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions. This is the same result we would get if we took half a million cars off the roads a year. “The circular economy approach in the fashion industry aims to expand the use of products and develop a more sustainable and circular system. Circularity includes concepts such as sharing, renting, repairing, renovating and recycling existing products for as long as possible. With this approach, the life cycle of products is extended; so we encourage minimizing waste.” says Kirsi Niinimäki, leader of the fashion and textile research group at Finland’s Aalto University.
Today, second-hand fashion has become a benchmark that creates value over products that will be used in another time and cycle, through exchange or reuse. Fashion circularity will be successful in the future to the extent that the “produce, consume, destroy” model changes. thredUP collaborated with New York designer Christian Siriano to design a sustainable “badge of honor” that highlights circularity and tells the world you’re wearing second-hand. “We have created a logo that symbolizes the power of frugality, paying homage to the apparel and recycling iconography. Design is an endless loop that represents circular fashion and a future where clothes are used over and over again.”
Siriano underlined that thanks to the honor badge added to the products, they can encourage more users to spend less and save more. Siriano also presented second-hand pieces from thredUP as part of the NYFW 2021 Fall/Winter fashion show. Bringing a new perspective to the high fashion scene, the work is an example of the value placed on second-hand fashion.