According to a new report, the US secondhand clothing market is projected to more than triple in value to $80 billion in 2029.
Even more transformative is secondhand clothing’s potential to dramatically alter the prominence of fast fashion—a business model characterized by cheap and disposable clothing that emerged in the early 2000s, epitomized by brands like H&M and Zara. Fast fashion grew exponentially over the next two decades, significantly altering the fashion landscape by producing more clothing, distributing it faster and encouraging consumers to buy in excess with low prices.
While fast fashion is expected to continue to grow 20 per cent in the next 10 years, secondhand fashion is poised to grow 185 per cent.
The secondhand clothing market is composed of two major categories, thrift stores and resale platforms. But it’s the latter that has largely fueled the recent boom. Secondhand clothing has long been perceived as worn out and tainted, mainly sought by bargain or treasure hunters. However, this perception has changed, and now many consumers consider secondhand clothing to be of identical or even superior quality to unworn clothing. A trend of “fashion flipping”—or buying secondhand clothes and reselling them—has also emerged, particularly among young consumers.