Can secondhand clothing solve fashion's sustainability crisis? — Quartz

Can secondhand clothes clear up style’s sustainability disaster? — Quartz

  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, Naomi Campbell (Actors)

An enormous pressure is reshaping the style trade: secondhand clothes. In response to a brand new report, the US secondhand clothes market is projected to greater than triple in worth within the subsequent 10 years—from US$28 billion in 2019 to US$80 billion in 2029—in a US market at the moment price $379 billion. In 2019, secondhand clothes expanded 21 occasions sooner than standard attire retail did.

Much more transformative is secondhand clothes’s potential to dramatically alter the prominence of quick style—a enterprise mannequin characterised by low cost and disposable clothes that emerged within the early 2000s, epitomized by manufacturers like H&M and Zara. Quick style grew exponentially over the following twenty years, considerably altering the style panorama by producing extra clothes, distributing it sooner and inspiring customers to purchase in extra with low costs.

Whereas quick style is anticipated to proceed to develop 20% within the subsequent 10 years, secondhand style is poised to develop 185%.

As researchers who examine clothes consumption and sustainability, we predict the secondhand clothes pattern has the potential to reshape the style trade and mitigate the trade’s detrimental environmental influence on the planet.

The following massive factor

The secondhand clothes market consists of two main classes, thrift shops and resale platforms. However it’s the latter that has largely fueled the current increase. Secondhand clothes has lengthy been perceived as worn out and tainted, primarily sought by discount or treasure hunters. Nonetheless, this notion has modified, and now many customers think about secondhand clothes to be of an identical and even superior high quality to unworn clothes. A pattern of “style flipping”—or shopping for secondhand garments and reselling them—has additionally emerged, significantly amongst younger customers.

Because of rising shopper demand and new digital platforms like Tradesy and Poshmark that facilitate peer-to-peer trade of on a regular basis clothes, the digital resale market is shortly changing into the following massive factor within the style trade.

The marketplace for secondhand luxurious items can also be substantial. Retailers like The RealReal or the Vestiaire Collective present a digital market for authenticated luxurious consignment, the place individuals purchase and promote designer labels equivalent to Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Hermès. The market worth of this sector reached $2 billion in 2019.

The secondhand clothes pattern additionally seems to be pushed by affordability, particularly now, throughout the Covid-19 financial disaster. Customers haven’t solely decreased their consumption of nonessential gadgets like clothes, however are shopping for extra high quality clothes over low cost, disposable apparel.

For clothes resellers, the continuing financial contraction mixed with the elevated curiosity in sustainability has confirmed to be a profitable mixture.

Extra aware customers?

The style trade has lengthy been related to social and environmental issues, starting from poor therapy of garment employees to air pollution and waste generated by clothes manufacturing.

Lower than 1% of supplies used to make clothes are at the moment recycled to make new clothes, a $500 billion annual loss for the style trade. The textile trade produces extra carbon emissions than the airline and maritime industries mixed. And roughly 20% of water air pollution throughout the globe is the results of wastewater from the manufacturing and ending of textiles.

Customers have grow to be extra conscious of the ecological influence of attire manufacturing and are extra continuously demanding attire companies develop their dedication to sustainability. Shopping for secondhand clothes might present customers a option to push again in opposition to the fast-fashion system.

Shopping for secondhand clothes will increase the variety of house owners an merchandise can have, extending its life—one thing that has been dramatically shortened within the age of quick style. (Worldwide, up to now 15 years, the common variety of occasions a garment is worn earlier than it’s trashed has decreased by 36%.)

Excessive-quality clothes traded within the secondhand market additionally retains its worth over time, not like cheaper fast-fashion merchandise. Thus, shopping for a high-quality secondhand garment as an alternative of a brand new one is theoretically an environmental win. However some critics argue the secondhand market really encourages extra consumption by increasing entry to low cost clothes.

Our newest analysis helps this chance. We interviewed younger American girls who repeatedly use digital platforms like Poshmark. They noticed secondhand clothes as a option to entry each low cost items and ones they ordinarily couldn’t afford. They didn’t see it instead mannequin of consumption or a option to lower dependence on new clothes manufacturing.

Regardless of the shopper motive, rising the reuse of clothes is an enormous step towards a brand new regular within the style trade, although its potential to handle sustainability woes stays to be seen.

This text is republished from The Dialog underneath a Inventive Commons license. Learn the authentic article.