The Rise of Secondhand Fashion: Insights from ThredUP’s 2023 Resale Report

ThredUP, one of the leading online marketplaces for buying and selling secondhand apparel, shoes, and accessories, has released the results of its 2023 Resale Report. Conducted by retail analytics firm GlobalData, this annual study provides a comprehensive overview of the secondhand market in the U.S. and globally, including projections through 2032. The report highlights key factors driving market growth, including consumer behavior in response to economic uncertainty and inflation and the attitudes of younger generations towards resale.

“Now in its 11th year, the Resale Report has some of the most inspiring findings since we started the report in 2013. Resale is starting to blossom globally, with many of the largest retailers in the world adopting more circular business models; value continues to be a key driver that motivates consumers to think secondhand first; and at the same time, global climate issues have increased awareness of resale’s potential to reduce fashion’s impact on the environment. It’s clear we’re on a promising trajectory, and by working together through collective action, we have the power to alter fashion’s future for the better.” – James Reinhart, CEO, thredUP

ThredUP’s 2023 Resale Report also features a list of the top 20 most popular brands in resale. This information was used to inform the development of the company’s Fashion Footprint Calculator, an interactive tool aimed at educating consumers about the environmental impact of their fashion choices. The Resale Report found that 63% of Gen Z and Millennials believe they can reduce their individual carbon footprint by purchasing secondhand items.

Here are the top five findings from ThredUP’s 2023 Resale Report:

    1. Secondhand continues to grow in popularity globally, with the global secondhand market set to nearly double to $350 billion by 2027. In the U.S., online resale is the driving force behind this growth, with the U.S. secondhand market projected to reach $70 billion by 2027.
    2. Value is the primary driver influencing purchasing decisions, with 52% of U.S. consumers buying secondhand apparel in 2022. Of those who spent a higher proportion of their apparel budget on secondhand items last year, 63% did so in response to inflation.
    3. Shopping secondhand has a positive environmental impact, with resale having the potential to cut new clothing production. U.S. consumers bought 1.4 billion secondhand apparel items in 2022 that they would have otherwise purchased new, resulting in a 40% increase from 2021. Buying and wearing secondhand clothing instead of new reduces carbon emissions by an average of 25%.
    4. Retailers are increasingly adopting resale programs, with 86% of retail executives saying their customers already participate in resale. 88 brands launched dedicated resale programs in 2022, representing a 244% increase from the previous year.
    5. Resale is driving Gen Z’s purchasing decisions, with 82% of this generation considering the resale value of apparel before buying it, and 64% looking for an item secondhand before purchasing it new. Retailers view resale as a strategic business initiative that generates positive ROI and satisfies investor demands around ESG.

“Secondhand continues to be one of the fastest-growing segments in apparel, and online resale in particular is seeing solid growth. What’s particularly striking this year is new detail around how much younger generations are expected to account for future growth as their purchasing power increases. Traditional retailers are responding to this demand by entering resale and are really the ones driving the market forward, and we expect increased adoption in retail as secondhand becomes more of a lifestyle for consumers.” – Neil Saunders, Managing Director, GlobalData

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