From Rags to Riches: The Evolution of Fashion Resale

Ecommerce | 16/05/2022 | Written by Georgia Robin

What is fashion resale?

Through the likes of sites such as Etsy and eBay we have become familiar with the peer-to-peer process and the growing popularity of consumer to consumer selling. Yet in recent years we have shifted away from the norm and instead, the evolution of resale marketplaces has rapidly entered the mainstream.

Resale is now a major conversation taking the fashion world by storm, existing to enable users to buy and sell pre-loved items. Not only this, but resale marketplaces also introduce a new social element, as engagement is encouraged from buyer to seller through direct messages, ratings and reviews.

 

Reasons for the re-sale rise

The influence of the pandemic on conscious consumerism

In recent years a rise in consumer consciousness towards a more sustainable future has caused a cultural shift in the way peer-to-peer selling works. Since the first report of COVID back in 2019, the world has taken a more conscious approach towards being sustainable, including through their shopping habits. A survey conducted by McKinsey & Company suggests that the pandemic aided the shift to a sustainable lifestyle, with 60% of respondents going out of their way to shop second-hand.

There has also been conversation around thrifting as a pandemic habit, with 33 million consumers buying secondhand apparel at the start of the pandemic in 2020. Of these, 76% planned to increase their spending on secondhand clothing in the next 5 years, suggesting it’s a habit that is set to stick.

During the isolation period, 40% of people had a ‘COVID clearout’ donating hundreds of items to local charity shops across the UK. This became a huge problem for charity shops as the vast quantities of items were overwhelming and hard to handle. The silver lining of this charity shop crisis was an increase in second-hand shopping and the demand for resale platforms. From April 1st 2020, eBay experienced a huge boom in reselling goods with 68% of new C2C sellers starting to sell pre-owned goods.

 

Environmental impact of fast fashion

Fast fashion’s detrimental effect on the environment is becoming an unavoidable discussion, as new lines of clothing are released every day to try to meet the insatiable consumer demand for the latest trends. This has driven the growing demand for sustainable second-hand retail. Concerns surrounding the environmental impact of the fast fashion industry have led to the resale market growing at a rate 11 times faster than that of fast fashion. The second-hand market will be worth around $84 billion by 2030, versus fast fashion standing at just $40 billion.

Fashion activist moments

The past decade has seen a rise in fashion activism through global movements which aim to drive cultural, industry and policy change. For instance, Fashion Revolution is a global movement of people who fight to conserve and restore the environment by ending exploitation and valuing people over profit. We have just seen Fashion Revolution week pass, with the 2022 campaign focusing on exploitation and inequality issues in the fashion supply chain. The awareness raised by campaign groups like Fashion Revolution helps to shift consumer mindsets to support systematic and structural change, and of course to shop sustainably.

 

Challenges of fashion resale

As with any eCommerce alternative, resale has its challenges. Despite a shift in mindset for a number of buyers and sellers towards wanting to buy sustainably, only 15% of adults believe it is their individual responsibility to shop sustainably. A heavy portion of the population relies on brands and retailers to take action and believe they are accountable to drive the change needed.

Many big-name brands are responding to the pressure and introducing their own resale platforms, including Patagonia and Eileen Fisher. Ganni has become the latest high-end brand to join the party, launching its own resale platform in April 2022. The brand has gone even further by partnering with Hurr to enter the rental market for all UK sales made.  

There is also a growing concern regarding the intention of resale, as some brands are utilising the concept immorally. With loose intentions on circular production and instead, putting increased profits at the forefront of their focus, some retailers aren’t slowing down the rate of new production conjointly with resale initiatives. Rather, they are introducing second-hand marketplaces to garner good press whilst they continue to engage in unethical procedures and exploitation. 

What does the future hold for fashion resale?

ThredUP have predicted that by 2030, resale platforms will hold 18% of the market share, up from 9% in 2020. Resale, rental and subscription services will continue to hold the largest market share and be amongst the fastest growing sectors in the next 10 years.


Various factors including the pandemic and increased awareness surrounding sustainability have made us more ethical as consumers. As this awareness continues to rise, there is a positive shift towards a more sustainable retail environment for the future. 

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At Curated, we’re always exploring the latest trends. You can learn more about sustainable fashion trends, or browse our most recent whitepaper for an insight into consumer attitudes towards sustainable periodcare

If you’re interested in learning more, get in touch with our team today – we’d love to hear from you.

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