Amongst other disruptions COVID-19 has also sparked consumers’ interest in pre-owned or vintage clothing. More people are opting for secondhand clothes now, says Sarah Willersdorf, Managing Director and Partner, Boston Consulting Group. She expects the percentage of secondhand clothes in a person’s wardrobe to reach 27 per cent by 2023. In the last one year, secondhand fashion business has almost doubled, observes Elizabeth Gross, who has been selling vintage clothing for the last 20 years. She recently closed her brick-and-mortar store to focus on Instagram.
Changing perceptions helps sale
A major reason for the rising popularity of vintage fashion is change in consumers’ perception towards pre-owned clothes, says Gross. Pre-owned clothes were earlier considered to be dirty and most people shied away from them. However now, vintage clothes are considered to be not just fashionable but also affordable and durable.
Sustainability is another factor that is driving consumers towards secondhand or vintage fashion. The trend also offers brands an opportunity to increase their sustainability quotient. Brands are launching their pre-owned collections on emerging social media platforms like Little Black Door. The platform helps consumers track and share their wardrobes with other consumers and connect to other resale platforms.
New schemes to boost sales
Along with sustainability, consumers are also getting attracted to vintage styles, adds Willersdorf. The customer base for secondhand clothing market is growing rapidly and retailers can no longer afford to ignore this opportunity. Many retailers are incorporating circular practices into their business to make them more responsible.
Brands are offering buy-back schemes where they collect returns to repair, recycle and resell them to increase their longevity, adds Kayla Marci, Market Analyst, Edited. This helps them to encourage shoppers to preserve their clothes longer and pass them on to future generations.
The secondhand clothing market is currently quite fragmented with players like TheRealReal and Vestiaire Collective claiming a larger share of the market. Over the next five years, several new players are expected to enter this burgeoning market.