“Preloved” Apparel is Now an Upscale Fashion Choice!

More than ever, the clothing industry is embracing secondhand clothing in response to the consumer love for things sustainable.

Feb 13, 2020

In a bold and encouraging move aimed at fulfilling the customer desire to become part of a new era in the fashion industry, Nordstrom has become the latest retailer to offer second-hand garments in its stores. But the brand is not the only one to have joined this trend: giants such as Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Madewell, among others, have already embraced a business model that reflects a whole new perspective directly bonded to sustainable values.

The rebranding of the thrift universe
Thrift shops have been with us for decades, usually reserved for a particular consumer niche. But those days of isolation are over, because the massification (the strategy seeing luxury brands reach out to a broader consumer market) of second-hand items, comes with something new. The novelty is the creative collaboration between traditional retailers and pre-loved clothing providers, which is transforming the way secondhand garments are sold and perceived.

 
 
 
 
 
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Used denim cut-offs are just better than new ones. ????‍♀️????#iswhatitis #thatsafact #fashionfacts #chooseused (Thrifty cuteness via @corporateglitter. ✨)

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What was always known as “secondhand” or “used” is being relaunched as “preloved”, in a successful attempt to rebrand the concept in a more positive light. It includes those garments that can be found in the closets of our beloved older relatives, but also those treasures waiting to be discovered in thrift shops, swap parties, on online resale sites and more recently, in the settings of traditional retailers, right next to their newest collections.

In 2020, expanding the universe of “preloved” things for sale touches everything from high street  brick-and-mortar stores to online sales, from thrift shops to conventional retailers. And it offers the possibility of both selling and buying, which means customers have an alternative to throwing away their old clothes. So even the most “skeptical” shoppers are open to the idea of reselling and exploring used good quality garments that still have a long life ahead of them.

The preloved market may be stepping into fast fashion’s shoes
Here’s an optimistic fact: According to the thredUP Resale Report 2019, in conjunction with  GlobalData, the industry capitalizing on secondhand goods is a  $24 billion market. This is projected to double to $51 billion by 2024. And even more surprisingly, not only has the resale market grown 21 times faster than clothing retail over the last three years, but it is forecast to be one and half times the size of “fast fashion” within 10 years. This shows how mainstream buying preloved goods is becoming.

The report also found that today’s youngest consumers, Gen Z and Millennials, are adopting secondhand goods two and a half times faster than the average consumer. It is not hard to conclude then, that this segment hungers for diverse wardrobes but without the “eco-guilt”. As a result, they choose to buy from sustainably-conscious and affordable sellers.

A consumer shift is therefore the engine that fuels the new sustainability clothing paradigm. According to findings from the Porter Novelli/Cone Purpose Premium Index, customers prioritize companies that lead in ethical and green values including advocate for issues (81 percent), protect the environment (79 percent) and that give back to important causes (73 percent). Younger consumers especially associate “purpose-driven companies” with ones that “help to positively impact society and the world”

Younger shoppers are becoming more interested in access rather than ownership, and they crave newness while embracing sustainable values. For these “woke consumers”, discovering that they can eat their cake and have it, consuming novel things without having to compromise on their values, is a win-win situation! Business models that embrace reused garments make it possible for the fashion industry to meet its consumer demands on the one hand and to grow as a profitable business on the other.

As demand for clothing continues to grow, old and new solutions are needed to address the environmental issues that come with such growth.  That “preloved” clothing is catching up with fast fashion is one of the keys to a greener, more sustainable future of fashion.

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DAIANA BROJT, CONTRIBUTOR
With a love for fashion, technology, self-development, nature and communication, Daiana is a freelance writer. She is the creator of an online community platform dedicated to providing inspiration and information on trends, developments and positive impact initiatives in the world of Sustainable Fashion.