Updated: Oct 17
What Consumers Are Doing?
When it comes to consumers, shopping resale has almost become second nature, especially among millennials and Generation Z. In recent years, consumers have become increasingly aware of the many benefits of buying their clothing pre-loved. Long gone are the stigmas around thrifted clothing as more people make the decision to shop for second-hand attire. As more consumers become aware of the environmental benefits of purchasing resale rather than wholesale, pre-loved has become the easy first choice rather than a last resort. Speaking to this mentality change among consumers, Sarah Davis (founder of Fashionphile) has said that nowadays, buying resale has become a ‘bragging right’. People want to be known for their sustainable efforts and their ‘unique’ clothing finds thus, raising a new generation of shoppers that view secondhand clothing as a gold mine rather than a waste bin.
Aside from doing our part for the climate crisis, secondhand fashion has also proven to be the more financially-friendly option for most people. An entire wardrobe refresh can now be achieved without adding to the many kilos of retail waste that is already sitting in a landfill. Consumers can also gain a second income now by simply using what they can find in their wardrobes. With the cost of living crisis, a lot of consumers have had to rethink their shopping decisions and habits. As the majority of sustainably sourced fashion has proven to be more affordable, most consumers are now considering buying secondhand instead of new - a mentality that is adopted by 61% of Gen Z. With resale goods being more accessible through peer-to-peer platforms such as DePop and Continue, thrifting will continue to rise in popularity, especially among younger consumers.
Some demographics are also reporting that it’s simply more enjoyable to shop secondhand. From visiting warehouse sales, vintage markets, sample sales and so much more, shopping resale has turned into an ethically-fulfilling social activity. Like raiding your sister’s closet for an outfit to borrow, the ‘trading’ nature of the resale market has become incredibly attractive to consumers as more people move away from trendy, mass-produced items to make up their personal style. Finding unique, vintage items has never been more desirable among consumers and the one place that guarantees a serotonin-filled purchase every time is the resale market. Therefore, by adopting more conscious shopping practices, consumers have become overall, happier with their purchases and their wardrobes. People are ‘investing’ in more high-quality wardrobe staples and curating a closet that caters more to their personal styles which has started to reduce this desire to buy into micro-trends among consumers.
Aside from this individuality mindset, we can also thank the circularity of fashion trends for the resale market’s increasing popularity. Since the 2010s, we’ve seen a massive comeback of decade-specific styles among consumers. From the high-waisted 80s-esque mom jeans to the dreaded resurgence of Y2K peplum tops, it’s clear that our pasts are catching up to us. Thankfully, with the resale market, we can be as era-appropriate as we want. With more consumers digging through their personal archives to wear and sell older trends, most people have, again, turned to the resale market to enhance their wardrobes.
What Brands Are Doing?
Having looked at how consumers have changed the way they’ve interacted with fashion resale recently, we should also look at how this behaviour has influenced what bigger companies have been doing to cater to this desire for secondhand. The general consensus we can take from looking at large players in fashion is that resale has become more integrated with wholesale. With increasing pressure from consumers to become more transparent and take responsibility for their contributions to the climate crisis, brands have become more active in their pursuit of sustainability. Whether it exists in the form of a 10-year plan or a partnership with resale marketplaces, it’s clear that brands are becoming more serious about contributing to circular fashion.
Here’s what a few brands have done so far:
Known for its leather goods since 1941, Coach has made some significant steps to contribute to the longevity of their products. Being one of the first luxury brands in the world to do so, Coach has been actively promoting and encouraging the upcycling of their old products in hopes of reducing their production waste. Evidence of this initiative is their sub-brand Coachtopia. Launched earlier this year, Coachtopia intended to create a collection of bags and accessories that were made of old fabric scraps. An upcycled product from Coachtopia is usually made of 50% recycled leather scraps, 100% recycled polyester for thread and 70% recycled resin for plastic hardware and accessories. Although products made from Coach’s recycled materials are limited to the designs on Coachtopia’s site, this could still be acknowledged as a considerable effort on Coach’s behalf to reduce their impact on environmental waste. Perhaps we will see a brand-wide implementation of Coachtopia’s designs in the near future.
Preceding the success of Coachtopia, Coach’s commitment to refurbishing and upcycling their pre-loved products was teased by its pop-up concept store in Spitalfields market in the autumn of 2022. Titled Coach (Re) Loved, the pop-up ran for three months and encouraged customers to bring in their old Coach bags to be restored or redesigned for a fresh new look. The store also sold a limited stock of old Coach bags and accessories to be purchased and refreshed as well for customers who want to be pre-loved. This was a commendable decision as it not only boasted the longevity of investing in Coach’s products but also, created a sense of loyalty for customers. This is an incredibly important factor for Gen Z when shopping as customers in this age group are more likely to shop with a brand that offers second-hand apparel alongside new.
For this quintessentially British luxury brand, Burberry has embraced circular fashion by collaborating with several rental and resale platforms such as My Wardrobe HQ and TheRealReal.
For those of us who are unfamiliar with them, My Wardrobe HQ is a luxury rental and resale platform. They mainly focus on loaning clothes to customers for a set period of time, however, products can still be purchased through the website should you fall in love with an item. Collaborating with My Wardrobe HQ, Burberry has contributed the bulk of its inventory to be loaned to customers. Authenticated donations from their VIP clients and users of My Wardrobe HQ are also added to Burberry’s section on the resale platform. Lastly, 40% of sales go to SmartWorks - a charity organisation that provides high-quality job interview clothes and coaching to unemployed women in need.
Another collaboration that Burberry has sought out with TheRealReal - another luxury resale platform. Unlike My Wardrobe HQ, TheRealReal is entirely dedicated to authenticating and reselling high-end designer products. An incentive is also provided to customers who resell their Burberry products on TheRealReal where sellers are given a $100 voucher to use on all wholesale Burberry products in stores. This can be viewed as an attempt to bridge the gap between resale and wholesale within luxury fashion.
eBay X Love Island
If we want to look at how the mentality around resale and pre-loved fashion has changed in the UK in the past decade, Love Island’s collaboration with the world’s biggest online secondhand marketplace, eBay, is the perfect example of this. To anyone who lives or even steps foot in the UK, it’s evident that Love Island is one of the country’s biggest nationally televised events every year. Known as the show that breeds the most famous Instagram influencers, it’s a no-brainer that everything these islanders do is influential to the public; including what they wear. In the past, Love Island was sponsored by several fast-fashion brands like PrettyLittleThing or Boohoo to dress their contestants. However, as the public and the industry move towards fashion circularity, Love Island has decided to collaborate with eBay instead to spread the word about resale and pre-loved fashion.
Now an official sponsor of the reality show, eBay provides all the outfits seen on the show thus, increasing awareness and sales around pre-owned clothing. This has promoted not only a sustainable option for shopping but also, a sustainable mindset. According to ThredUp’s 2022 resale report, they’ve noted that the most wasteful fashion moments in a year are festival seasons, weddings, back-to-school and holidays. By using only pre-loved items in a glamorous show like Love Island, it shows viewers that preloved occasion wear can be just as ‘trendy’ as those found in fast-fashion retailers.
Mohr, I., Fuxman, L. and Mahmoud, A. (2022). Fashion Resale Behaviours and Technology Disruption: An In-depth Review. 10.4018/978-1-6684-4168-8.ch015.