The Shift to Thrift: COVID-19 Fuels an Already Thriving Second Hand Clothing Market
The pandemic has opened doors for people to make sustainable fashion choices. The thrift clothing stores have more activity now than they had earlier.
Covid-19 has aided in creating consumer awareness for eco-friendly clothing options. As per a report by Future Market Insights, the market valuation of the secondhand apparel market is expected to register a year-on-year growth of 4.8%. It will surpass a market valuation of US$ 32Bn by the end of 2021. Wholesale thrift clothing markets have come up in many cities around the world after the pandemic. In some of these markets, these clothes are even sold by weight instead of a fixed price.
Change in consumer attitude:
The environmental impact of the fashion industry has always been discussed, and the pandemic has made people take positive actions for the same. The consumer liking is shifting towards thrift clothing, or the "pre-loved" clothing, as now it is called. The coining of a positive term clearly shows the positive attitude of the customers. It reflects in numbers too. As per the report mentioned earlier, the CAGR for the secondhand apparel market for the next decade is expected to be 11.2%. Shopping for secondhand clothing is a great way to support wastage reduction of used clothes. According to Forbes, 37% of Generation- Z consumers move towards secondhand clothing for a greener shopping experience. Moreover, the upcycled clothing gives a new style to the existing clothes, giving the buyer something new to wear.
The use of thrift clothing has been a win-win situation for both the seller and the buyer. The seller can get some extra money by selling their old clothes while the buyer receives those clothes at a comparatively lesser price, proving to be an economical choice. Some people who want to contribute to society donate their clothes instead of selling them for monetary gain. The thrift clothing is in good condition, so it has value for the new owner as well. The supply of secondhand clothing also increased because even the high-wage-earners were selling their prized apparel on resale websites for a sense of financial security during the uncertain pandemic times.
New business opportunities:
Major apparel brands have noticed the change in consumer behavior. Garage sales existed before 2020 too, but the pandemic has skyrocketed the demand for secondhand clothing. People had less disposable income, and many clothing retail chains had shuttered their operations due to financial distress. Big brands have recognized the new opportunities and are entering into global partnerships. For example, an Italian luxury fashion brand has announced a tie-up with an American re-commerce chain. Similarly, famous for its denim, an American clothing company has announced a denim buyback program to promote sustainable fashion. It has also launched a re-commerce website of its own.
Role of social media promoting secondhand clothing:
Social media acts as a catalyst in promoting any new trend online. It became true with the trend to promote secondhand clothing during the pandemic too. As some major clothing retail chains closed down, consumers had to look for "pre-loved" clothing if they wanted to make an addition to their wardrobe. Most People were restricted to their homes to comply with the Covid-19 regulations. In such times, social media was the only way to connect with the outside world.
Promoting content on social media has very low entry barriers. It gave rise to many homegrown clothing labels dealing with secondhand clothing to promote circular fashion and donation of used clothes on their Instagram pages. It led to the rise of an Instagram market for thrift clothing. The promotion of this trend by social media influencers further boosted the wide acceptance of secondhand fashion. Even charitable organizations played their part in promoting secondhand clothing. For example, Oxfam ran a campaign #SecondhandSeptember to promote the resale trend.
Effect on the textile recycling industry:
With the change in consumer attitude about secondhand clothing, there is a positive effect on the environment. Consumers are also getting the apparel at a lower price. But with the rise in this trend, the recycling industry is under pressure. There is a surge in supply of thrift clothing from donation and resale, and the clothes are piling up at recycling centers awaiting sorting out.
LA Vintage is a Los Angles-based wholesale supplier of vintage clothing, shoes, and accessories. It is a family-owned business that started in 2006. It has a 42000 sq ft. warehouse which has a vast collection of vintage styles.
LA Vintage believes in sustainability and follows the '3 -R' approach of Reduce Reuse and Recycle. It helps in reducing the organization's carbon footprint. Through the exports, the business also helps in providing livelihood to micro-entrepreneurs in certain economically backward countries, and these entrepreneurs sell the products in local markets.