Fashion Opinion

The Surge of the Secondhand Store

The secondhand store has always been around, but with the help of social media, ‘thrifting’ is reemerging with a powerful new lease on couture life.

Bye-bye, stigma. Hello, mainstream. Gone are the days where secondhand retail stores were associated with negative reputations. Thrift is in, and it will continue to be in for a long, long time.

I remember the days when I overheard kids getting teased in school hallways and playgrounds for wearing thrifted clothes. Shopping at Goodwill and Salvation Army resulted in a drop in the social pyramid that existed in middle and high school.

However, nowadays, thrift shopping is regarded as ‘trendy’ and ‘edgy,’ and it has stepped into the fashion limelight. Celebrities endorse resale retailers like ThredUP or Poshmark, and social media influencers post thrifting content that receives millions of views.

Secondhand fashion is becoming an increasingly profitable industry each and every day. According to Forbes Magazine, “secondhand apparel, both online and offline, [was] an $18 billion industry [in 2017] and is forecast to grow about 11% per year, becoming a $33 billion industry by 2021.”

Unsurprisingly, the secondhand fashion industry has had the same fate of the traditional fashion industry in regards to online resale retailers having higher success than brick-and-mortar resale retailers. Currently, the traditional thrift store market is growing at a rate of 8% annually, whereas the online resale market is growing at a rate of 35% annually – which is significantly faster than the growth rate of the overall apparel market.

The rise of thrift shopping is not an unwarranted phenomenon. The U.S. economy has seen the emergence and dominance of the ‘sharing market’ as opposed to the ‘owning market.’ According to recent research from Harris Poll, 78% of millennials stated they would “choose to spend money on an experience or event over buying a desirable object.”

The allocation of money on the part of millennials towards memories rather than material goods helps explain the rise of huge companies such as Uber, Rent the Runway and Airbnb. Millenials have made it clear that fashion is one area in which they can sacrifice newness for either financial or social responsibility as they are the generation that thrifts the most compared to others.

Shopping at secondhand retailers provides millenials with the opportunity to save money without sacrificing style or quality. ThredUp’s 2018 Fashion Resale Report found that 66% of thrifters use thrifting to “buy better brands they would otherwise never purchase at full price.”

Not only do millenials shop secondhand to save dollars in their wallets; the eco-conscious mindset they hold drives them to reduce their carbon footprint caused by the fashion industry – which is the second most polluting industry in the world.

According to ThredUp’s 2018 Fashion Resale Report, 77% of millennials prefer purchasing from environmentally-conscious brands. According to the same ThredUp Fashion Report, “the life of an item is extended by 2.2 years if sold secondhand, which reduces the carbon footprint by 73%.” Thrifting really does have the potential to save the planet.

Thrifting is a win-win situation. Next time you think about going to the mall, stop and consider heading over to your local thrift store; your wallet will win and so will the environment.

Latest posts by Shadi Bakhtiyari (see all)
Share this article: