22 years old Pranali Borwankar started her thrift clothing venture in May 2020 during the pandemic after she saw that her wardrobe was overflowing with clothes that she no longer used. “It was a rough start initially. Many thrift stores have suppliers and connections with wholesalers that I don’t currently have, so getting things for my page was difficult. In order to diversify, I have recently started helping people clear out their closet by posting their things on my page for a small commission. People have started accepting thrifting more and more, and I hope it continues to grow this way,” Pranali mentions.
She entered the market with Thrift Mumbai only recently, but her outlook has always been in favour of thrifting and she personally has been wearing family hand-me-downs for years now! “Wastage is a huge problem. Why to throw away items that are in top condition when they can be loved again? Thrifting in India is gaining acceptance, as many influencers are promoting this movement too. Many items are vintage and have a history behind them, and I think it’s a wonderful thing to take them home,” she adds.
Second-hand clothing is a fair choice today given the diminishing pocket size of most consumers, as they can buy clothing at a 50 per cent or lower price tag compared to the original price. According to the recent Resale Report by thredUP, the ‘largest online consignment and thrift store’ in the world, the second-hand market is set to hit $64Billion in the next 5 years, globally.
Growing by leaps and bounds
“I see a major shift in perspective when it comes to second-hand clothing and making sustainable choices. People are having second thoughts when it comes to shopping from a fast fashion brand that is constantly under scrutiny for its unethical practices and are looking for brands and thrift stores that offer a more circular fashion approach. I’ve already noticed bigger brands as well taking interest in the thrift aspect and that’s a sign there is a market for this category to grow 10 folds and beyond in the near future into a more organised sector like we see in countries like USA which offer options like Goodwill stores and platforms like Depop and Poshmark,” Sanjana, Founder, The Sustainable Curator, highlights while talking about how the country is looking at thrift.
The Sustainable Curator has been curating a unique collection of vintage and good quality thrifted articles that can be used in multiple ways and are still relevant today, while providing guilt-free packaging that is reusable and plastic-free to encourage people to make more conscious and sustainable choices.
Equating the challenges
“Today, there is increasing support for home-grown businesses, a search for low-cost resource-saving alternatives and the need for a simpler and healthier lifestyle. ReThought aims to support and give a voice to the roar of fantastic ideas and concepts that can help make a better, happier and safer world tomorrow. Outside India, there is no stigma attached to the concept of second-hand clothing; however, India still has a long way to go in terms of picking on the trend,” Adrija Halder, Founder of ReThought, underlined when asked about the consumer response and market trends.
ReThought offers a platform to thrift brands and is one of the first in India to bring together a long list of thrift clothing brands under one roof. The brand focuses on thrift in two segments, one is the high street, easy on the pocket clothing, and the other is the designer and high-end vintage clothing. “We take a very small commission from the brands, and in turn, offer them a virtual shop front. On the other hand, the price tag on which we sell is highly affordable and that kind of makes it a win-win for both the seller and the buyer. We actually have a complete handbook and insist our sellers to abide by that when getting inducted with us,” Rohan Tuteja, Co-founder, ReThought, adds.
ReThought is a unique platform and it brings together the thrifting culture closer to the consumer in just a click. Both the founders are keen on spreading the awareness of thrifting in India and want to make this a culture, a practice, and a conscious choice for the Indian audience.
Spotting the trend
“Pre-loved clothes come with their own wear and tear, which is why a basic QC, to start with, is a must. We do send all the clothes to the laundry or get some repairs done if necessary, before even putting out the clothes for selling. Sanitisation has always played a big role for second-hand clothing, and now owing to the pandemic, we have become more stringent. After everything, comes the pricing. We mainly decide the same keeping in mind the brand and the usage of the product,” Namrata Iyer, Founder, The Local Thrift, shares while talking about the essentials a brand has to follow when selling second-hand or vintage clothing.
Sanjana adds here, “Pricing involves a lot of factors like the initial investment, plus the time and effort to sanitise, shoot and finally package and ship out an item. Another important aspect is the condition of the garment. If it has been refurbished in any way, then that becomes an additional cost and has to be factored into the price. A lot of people are new to the concept and are not aware of the amount of the care gone into preserving a vintage item in good condition and do question prices at times, but I am happy that more and more people are recognising and are appreciative of the quality of the clothes I sell.”
When talking about reception, Namrata says that it is majorly the youth, teens, and the baby boomers who buy the most. Adrija also agrees, hinting that the acceptance towards thrifted clothing is more amongst the young audience and this gives them a chance to increase their wardrobe strength without having to spend a lot. The affordability factor for second-hand clothing, which allows one to buy brands on an economic tag, definitely adds up to the acceptance of this change.
Apart from sanitisation, in terms of a major challenge, all of them mentioned that like every other business that depends on logistics, dispatching parcels was challenging during the lockdown. However, the progress that the new and the old brands alike has seen in terms of sales numbers within the shirt time that they have been in business definitely speaks volumes about this segment’s growth.
“I started off with just garage sales that involved clothes I procured from my own wardrobe and contributions from my friends and family. However, the response I got was beyond expectations and then people started reaching out to me to support the thrift movement. I can see a very big shift in buying mentalities, and as per reports, this segment will achieve a voluminous growth by 2025. In India, the trend is spreading and it is upon us to take it forward with honesty,” Namrata thus analyses the ongoing market trends for thrift clothing.