There’s no question that there is a spotlight on pre-loved fashion right now. From pop culture, such as a thrifted suit making an appearance on the Oscars stage, to the economy and rising inflation rates causing consumers to spend more of their annual budget on secondhand items, the sustainable movement has never been more alive.
Although secondhand clothing stores have been around for a long time, the sustainable fashion movement is rapidly increasing in popularity. In fact, the global secondhand clothing market grew by 28% in 2022 alone, according to a recent ThredUp survey of over 3,000 U.S. adult consumers and 50 fashion retailers conducted by GlobalData. The report estimates the U.S. secondhand market will more than double by 2027, reaching a remarkable $70 billion, and the global market is projected to reach $350 billion.
If you’re new to buying pre-loved merchandise, check out these three reasons to choose secondhand next time you’re on the hunt for something fabulous.
Green is the new black.
When it comes to shopping for things like luxe-brand clothes, handbags, outerwear, jewelry and other merchandise, often the first thought is to buy it new. However, not only does buying new typically cost more, but the environment pays a price to produce those in-demand items.
The fashion industry is one of the biggest environmental polluters in the world. Over 100 billion pieces of clothing are manufactured worldwide yearly, and over 15 million tons of production waste are generated in the United States alone. The fashion industry is responsible for 8-10% of annual global carbon emissions and it’s expected to rise another third by the year 2030.
In the last couple of years, the fashion industry has improved efforts to reduce its impact on the planet, but it’s not just eco-friendly brands that are doing something, it’s consumers as well. For example, sixty-two percent of environmentally conscious Gen Z and millennial consumers said they look for items secondhand before buying new.
Waste not, want not.
It might come as a surprise to learn that around 85% of textiles thrown away in the U.S. are dumped into landfills or burned — including unsold clothes. Furthermore, many of the products that are returned end up in a dump before we even use them. It turns out that returns not only create a giant carbon footprint, but a real problem for retailers. That new pair of shoes you sent back in brand new condition will be handled differently than the sweater that arrived with a hole in it.
Many companies don’t have the processes in place to handle these nuances in returned goods, so they sell them to discounters via a complex system of shipping, driving and flying them around the globe — or simply trucking them to the dump. In either case, there’s a lot of produced items going to waste. When you buy secondhand like-new merchandise, you’re giving those items a second life and saving them from being thrown out.
Redeeming items for good.
As firmly established above, when we shop from resale retailers (who, by the way, most often have a lot of brand-new merchandise in-stock due to the aforementioned returns fiasco), we extend the life of the items we buy and prevent them from heading to the trash. Similarly, when we gift or donate secondhand items to someone else, we give them a second life. Things that seem like excess to us can change the life of another person. Just because something is pre-loved, doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable to the recipient.When we take a conscious approach to our shopping habits, we take steps toward normalizing secondhand shopping to benefit people and the planet. Sustainable shopping is smart, economically beneficial and one of the best ways to be good stewards of the earth.