With salaries cut, jobs lost and uncertainty still over the ‘new normal’, consumer spending has definitely gone for a toss. Every consumer is looking at saving money. A recent report released by ThredUp distinctly highlighted that 79 per cent of shoppers intend to cut their apparel spending in the next 1 year. However, what has strikingly come out of the report is that 4 out of every 5 shoppers said they were keen to go for shopping secondhand apparels only to save money. Yes, the consumers are changing, and with them, the whole scenario too seems to be changing – and changing very fast.
We all know what secondhand clothing is. Don’t we? These are clothes that are not new or in other words clothes that have been worn before, and so it is interesting to know that it is the fastest growing category in apparel retail industry today. It is imperative to understand here that resale, which is a high-end subset of the secondhand market, too has been surging at a fast pace.
Gen Z and millennials are the defining consumers
2019 saw nearly 40 per cent of Gen Z saying that they purchased used clothing, footwear and accessories, which was an impressive 26 per cent jump from what it was in 2016. It’s just not the taste, but perceptions are changing.
And it wasn’t just with Gen Z!
30 per cent of millennials too conformed to what Gen Z shared – at a notable increase of 21 per cent of what it was in 2016. The report even brought out that around 90 per cent of Gen Z shoppers prefer buying apparels especially when they run short of money, while 80 per cent said they didn’t find anything wrong in doing so.
There’s also an increasing comfort level with buying secondhand goods. In 2016, 45 per cent women said they were comfortable buying secondhand goods including apparels – which could also be due to the low-cost factor. The figures have shot up to 64 per cent today. And it’s happening more with millennials and Gen Z who, as discussed earlier, love to go for used goods – 2.5 times more than people from other generations.
There is a distinct liking for worn apparels now and figures are saying that, and it is just going to grow in the coming years.
In the coming 5 years, 52 per cent of shoppers hope that they will be spending more on secondhand clothes. Reportedly, by 2029, the secondhand market is expected to rise by 17 per cent of the entire share of apparel market. Interestingly, many industry experts have been debating for quite some time that the growth in buying used apparels would gradually lead to slump in fast fashion market. While the fast fashion market will clock US $ 43 billion by 2029, the numbers could be US $ 44 billion for the resale market. Meanwhile, there is a prediction that secondhand market will record US $ 64 billion in 2024.
ThredUp, which had conducted this survey, too saw a growth of 20 per cent in the sale of used clothes during the mid-March to May period when the world was battling the deadly pandemic and the subsequent lockdown period.
Retail partnerships too are growing
Lately, a lot of retailers have shown interest in entering into fruitful partnership with online platform and why not! 82 per cent of retail executives opined that they love resale mainly because of higher footfall, while 58 per cent said there’s no better way to lure youngsters. 66 per cent also find the whole concept ‘eco-friendly’.
Here it is pertinent to mention that owing to this growing awareness for environment, a shift toward minimalism sparked by organiser Marie Kondo, and a preference for fewer higher quality pieces of clothing, consumer wardrobes are fast getting filled with secondhand or resale apparels.
ThredUp has been collaborating successfully with retailers to make the secondhand apparel business flourish. American retail giant Gap had joined hands with ThredUp earlier this year to boost sales. But each retailer has their own strategies…
Macy’s has already set up space for ThredUp in 40 of its stores with the intent of getting several new arrivals every month. JCPenney has 30 such locations, while J. Crew’s Madewell brand has six of ThredUp’s pop-ups. So the retailers are also adopting different ways to boost sales.
Take Nordstrom, for instance! With a different approach, the company in January 2020 unveiled its own resale shop, namely ‘See You Tomorrow.’ This allows shoppers to browse used clothes online and at Nordstrom’s flagship store in New York. The company said it is filling See You Tomorrow with items that are returned, and then cleaned and refurbished, if damaged.
While Gap was giving shoppers gift cards, Nordstrom too has been offering the same if the shoppers donate their used apparels at its New York locations. There have also been reports that Nordstrom was planning to introduce its own intake programme for secondhand items online, but with the pandemic widespread and extended lockdowns, one is not sure if it did materialise.
It’s not just big stalwarts forging into partnerships, even small business owners are fast adding secondhand apparels to their lineup.
Indigo Tones adds secondhand goods
Late last year, Indigo Tones’ website saw a rush of used apparel sales after its owner Kerry Jones started her new site that featured especially collected secondhand items for her customers. What’s noteworthy is that the revenue has gone up by two times in just 5 months!
Being a colour consultant, Kerry has sometimes found it difficult to get particular colours in clothing cuts which match a customer’s preferred style, and this forced her to begin sourcing options for customers herself. Notably, she had run a high-end apparel exchange long back, as a result of which she had well-heeled customers who like to keep their wardrobes fresh – all this made her foray into secondhand business easy, consequently bringing impressive numbers too.
Today 80 per cent of her inventory is used apparels, whereas a mere 20 per cent is new clothes. Here it is important to note that sales of secondhand clothing accounted for 0 per cent of her business in 2015, which surged to 10 per cent in 2019 and is expected to shoot up further.
Lately, there’s been the trend of bringing in used apparels along with new clothes too picking up. The secondhand market, or for that matter, even resale market is picking up, and therefore, this idea of bringing old and new clothes could be a good business strategy.
In these tough times, for a while, consumers may not focus much on apparels, but once the situation improves outside, one will surely witness upward trend in apparels and that would include secondhand clothes too. In a recently released report conducted by GlobalData, the clothing resale market has grown 21 times faster than the market for new clothes. That’s some growth! And as mentioned earlier, with secondhand market also expected to clock US $ 64 billion in 4 years, this decade definitely belongs to this category of apparels.
It will be, however, interesting to see how quickly the world adjusts to the new normal, as that would decide where the apparel industry is heading to – in particular the secondhand market.