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The Global Rise of Resale Clothing

Clothing resale is on the rise globally, but can the market overrun small local businesses offering upcycle design?
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I still remember when I bought my first second-hand clothes. This happened in secondary school, when I was romanticising the 1970’s. My first second hand garment was a dark blue work jacket that most likely was made during the decade I glorified so much. Later on in high school, dressing in second hand was already more of a norm. A whole set of newcomers was introduced to my wardrobe, such as a range of different coloured velvet jackets - a staple for any artsy high school student at that time. Going to thrift stores satisfied my growing interest in clothing, because it was there I could find types of clothing that weren’t sold in large chain stores. In the early 2000’s, dressing up in vintage was becaming more and more common and a part of mainstream fashion. This is in one part due to Carrie Bradshaw, the protagonist of the famed TV-series, who freely combined designer clothes with vintage items, and in this way contributed to the rise of the global mega trend of wearing second-hand.

Nowadays, the phenomenon has grown and expanded even further, and its ecological aspects are more profound. Buying used clothing saves natural resources and does not have the carbon footprint of new clothing. The US-based platform ThredUp just released a report that tells us about the huge global growth in clothing resale in this decade. The global market for used clothing in 2012 was worth $ 11 billion. In 2018, the corresponding figure was $ 24 billion. The market for used clothing is forecast to grow over $ 50 billion over the next five years.

Although the industry nowadays covers all-priced products from mass-produced items to luxury products, the second-hand clothing market can be divided into two parts worldwide. One part is made up of donated clothing sold by charities such as Oxfam and the Salvation Army. Sales of these second-hand clothing are mainly focused on traditional sales channels and bricks and mortar shops. In recent years, this sector has been overshadowed by news that up to 70% of donated clothing is being sold to Africa, which has a problematic impact on, for example, local textile industry development.

The other part is made up of other types of resale dealers such as, for example, vintage shops. There has been an influx of new business models in this sector in the recent years, such as shops with highly curated selections, platforms and online stores. This section also includes the resale of products by consumers themselves on different channels, such as Facebook flea market groups or other online marketplaces.

The aforementioned area is also the one for which the fastest growth is predicted in the coming years. As a result, more traditional retail chains have also begun to look into the possibilities of second-hand clothing sales. The Swedish garment giant H&M said last week that it intends to bring the sale of second-hand clothing into its business. The new project will be implemented together with the Swedish startup company Sellpy and it will include resale of second-hand clothes in the online store of H&M's concept & Other Stories.

All pieces by the brands MEA and MEM are created entirely using post-consumer waste.

The market for used clothing is forecast to grow over $ 50 billion over the next five years.

The development of technology and selling on platforms can be considered to have accelerated the growth of second-hand clothing market in the past few years. The resale markets and used clothing as a raw material offer a lot of new business models and opportunities, but also growth potential for different circular economy models. It is easy to think that a used garment doesn’t have the qualities of a brand new, freshly made one. This is partly true, and many online clothing resale platforms inform of the overall quality of the products and how much they show signs of wear. It is always possible to repair clothes to an extent, which is why Weecos will soon offer professional repair service for clothing on the site.

However, completely new products can also be made from used clothing and post-consumer waste, where pockets or seams will certainly not rip. As the market for clothing resale grows globally and large companies grab their online sale profits from it, designer clothing and products made from post-consumer waste offer a circular economy model that uses already existing materials in an environmentally friendly way, while continuing the diminishing tradition of local clothing production, all the while supporting domestic small design businesses. It is precisely this kind product for which Weecos has dedicated in offering a platform since its start.

We have gathered some of our most sought-after upcycle items below. All products are made using post consumer waste, such as used clothing, like denim or jersey. This means that our Weecos sustainability stamp for upcycled post-consumer waste is applicable to all products listed below. Read more about the stamp here.

Sources: ThredUpBusiness of FashionMaailman kuvalehti


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