• Just Style

Secondhand apparel market to double in 5 years

The US secondhand apparel market is predicted to be worth US$51bn by 2023, new research shows, with younger generations leading the charge.

The resale market has grown 21 times faster than the retail apparel market over the past three years, according to figures from online resale store ThredUp. Its annual report, which contains research and data from GlobalData, shows 56m women bought secondhand products in 2018, up from 44m in 2017. The forecast suggests that in the five years from 2018, the secondhand apparel market will double from US$24bn to US$51bn, with resale driving the growth.

"Compared to the overall apparel market, resale's growth has been phenomenal," says Neil Saunders, GlobalData managing director and lead market analyst for the report. "As the market uniquely meets consumers' preference for variety, value, and sustainability, we expect the high growth to continue."

And it is millennials and Gen Z that are driving the growth of the secondhand market. The report predicts that more than one in three will buy secondhand in 2019.

Around 74% of of 18-29 year olds prefer to buy from sustainably conscious brands. Buying one used item reduces its carbon footprint by 82%.

"By helping to increase the use of clothing, resale can play a key role in making fashion circular," adds Francois Souchet, The Ellen MacArthur Foundation's Make Fashion Circular lead. "Raising the average number of times clothing is worn is the most direct way to design out waste and pollution and capture value."

Mobile apps and personalisation have made buying used clothes as easy as buying new, while convenience and trust has attracted a new generation of secondhand shoppers, the report explains.

As such, the secondhand market is expected to more than double in the next ten years, and is on track to make up one-third of closets by 2033.

But as consumers embrace new retail models, department stores will lose over half of their 2008 market share by 2028. Further, secondhand is projected to grow to nearly 1.5 times the size of fast fashion by 2028.

ThredUp is a member of the Switching Gear Enabling Network – a group of over 30 rental and re-commerce experts and service providers helping brands to develop and pilot new circular business models such as re-commerce and rental.