So, it seems the resale market is growing, and while the likes of eBay have been around for years, new online marketplaces are now driving this trend, with technology making it easier for users to buy and sell apparel than ever before.
We are certainly seeing evidence of this – Vinted posted a 63% year-on-year revenue rise for 2021. Meanwhile, Depop’s huge growth was recognised when it was bought by Etsy in 2021 for $1.6 billion.
As McKinsey’s Anita Balchandani explains in the ‘McKinseys on Startup’ podcast, new resale platforms are feeding in to new consumer priorities. “I think increasingly the opportunity to extend the life of a garment, or an object, has some very powerful potential, in terms of what it can do to the carbon footprint of consumption, while still satisfying the intrinsic desire that we, as consumers, have for newness and self-expression,” she said.
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Indeed, new apps and marketplaces are designed to not only fulfil the desire to buy secondhand, but they also offer a seamless (and addictive) experience, offering users an endless aisle of inspiration and opportunity to discover new ways to express themselves. Hence, we are also seeing fashion brands themselves embrace secondhand marketplaces, in a push for overall industry change. As McKinsey executive editor Daniel Eisenberg explains, “Whereas a few years ago many players seemed wary of these new models, more are now really starting to take part in them. They’re striking partnerships with online resale marketplaces and getting their customers involved, while making sure that the brand still remains a key part of the equation.”
One example of this is Target, which recently partnered with resale-as-a-service platform ThredUp, to test launch a secondhand clothing initiative. As part of the deal, Target will offer around 400,000 women’s and children’s items from its owned brands, as well as more curated from ThredUp’s own assortment.
There are other signs of major retail brands embracing sustainability, too, with many investing in their own resale or rental initiatives to encourage circular fashion (on top of partnering with third-party marketplaces). French Connection has recently become the first UK brand to set up its own rental service, frenchconnectionrental.com, enabling customers to rent clothing from its current collections rather than buy outright.