Thredup, one of the USA’s largest online retailers of second-hand clothing, has recently published its annual report on the state of the second-hand clothing market in that country. They report that there has been phenomenal growth in the resale clothing sector, from $3 billion of sales in 2017, to $5 billion worth in 2018 to an estimated $7 billion worth in 2019. Thredup predict the market will be worth $23 billion by 2023.
This rise has been driven chiefly by consumers’ desire to make more ethical choices when buying clothes, and to change their styles on a regular basis. Of course, this latter impulse has also been behind the rise of ‘fast fashion’ in recent years, but increasingly consumers are worried about the impact this is having on the environment.
Here at Loopster we’re thrilled to see the rise in second-hand resale clothes in the USA, and wonder if the United Kingdom will follow a similar path. A key difference between the UK and US is the prevalence of charity shops selling clothes here in the UK, which are not such a feature of the US retail scene. We Brits are avid givers to charity, whether we turn up at the shop with a bag of unwanted clothes or fill and leave a bag to be collected from the front door. £930 million was spent in UK charity and second-hand shops in 2018, and many high streets have seen a rise in the number of these shops in the past ‘austerity’ decade.
So, will online second hand clothes retailers thrive in the UK like Thredup and others have in the US?
It seems likely that people will continue to donate to charity, and for good reason. (Although scandals like those suffered by Oxfam and Save the Children in recent years appears to have caused fewer Britons to donate, as the Guardian recently reported)
Despite this, the market in online resale clothes is likely to grow in the UK, as the same forces propelling the market in the US operate here in the UK too. Consumers increasingly want to buy ethically and also want to refresh their wardrobe on a regular basis. Online clothes resale sites meet these twin demands perfectly: they offer high quality, branded, pre-owned clothing in good condition at an affordable price, and they come with an assurance to the customer that they are avoiding contributing to a growing waste mountain and the production of carbon emissions which come with the production of new clothes.
We all know it makes sense, and we’ve all heard the terrifying statistics before, like the textile industry being predicted to account for 25% of the global carbon budget by 2050. So, the time has come to stop worrying and wringing our hands, and to join the resale clothes revolution. This weekend, don’t hit the high street and the fast fashion chains. Go online, find a seller of quality pre-owned clothes, and refresh your wardrobe the ethical and easy way!