thredUP and Why the Resale Clothing Market is Growing so Fast


By Emily Emily McCullough

Between 2017 and 2018, sales from leading resale clothing stores like thredUP were up by 49%. With the estimated size of the resale clothing market at $20 billion, these stores are disrupting the way consumers shop for clothing.  Expect this trend to continue with the number of second-hand buyers estimated to increase by 40% by 2022. 

One of the leading resale clothing sellers is thredUP.  thredUP is an online platform for individuals to sell their second-hand clothing. Approximately 15,000 new items are added to the site daily. Items are discounted up to 90% off the estimated retail price. Individuals who wish to sell their clothing on thredUP must adhere to thredUP’s guidelines to ensure that all customers are satisfied with the merchandise and so that the brand’s quality standards are maintained. The platform is user-friendly and functions similar to any other online clothing retailer. 

Another leading retailer in this space is Poshmark, a digital marketplace for individuals to sell their second-hand clothing. Sellers make three easy steps in order to complete a transaction – “List it, share it, earn cash.” Buyers also encounter a similar process – “Discover items, get styled, spread the love.” Both of these marketplaces make it easy for transactions to take place between buyers and sellers.

Here are three reasons as to why second-hand shopping is the new trend:

1. Technology is ever changing consumer habits

With the number of smartphone users expected to surpass 3 billion in 2018 it has become easier for consumers to post resale clothing online. Smartphones allow consumers to take pictures of any unwanted item and post it online in order to sell it to anyone.  A multitude of apps allows prospective buyers and sellers to instantly message to arrange a time and meeting place to sell and receive resale merchandise. At the same time, consumers love “hunting” for items online with the online resale market growing at 35% per year. 

Social media has also played a key role in driving growth in this segment.  Consumers even have Facebook groups where they market their resale clothing. With a click of a button, consumers are able to share their second-hand items to their network in order to receive cash. Students have especially taken advantage of this trend by placing their second hand merchandise in online university marketplaces.  This allows students to easily sell their clothing to other students who are in the same geographic location. 

2. The cultural shift to “vintage”

In the past, a teenager or university student may not have considered their parent’s clothing as on trend. However, with style icons like Stella McCartney, who has her own sustainable luxury clothing brand and has been outspoken about being a fan of vintage clothing, it is trendy for consumers to shop for “vintage” pieces at their local thrift store or online. Stella McCartney believes that “the future of fashion is circular, it will be restorative and regenerative by design and the clothes we love never end up as waste.” This trend is further underscored by the fact that 13% of millionaires spend over $10,000 when shopping second-hand.

3. Consumers looking for more environmentally-friendly purchases 

A study by Unilever found that 33% of consumers are selecting brands that are environmentally or socially good. 21% of consumers said they would actively choose those brands if the labels and marketing made it clear that a brand is sustainable.  Additionally, 78% of American consumers stated that they feel better when they are purchasing these products. These studies demonstrate that consumers are leaning towards more environmentally-friendly merchandise. 

4. Millennials’ are “thrifty” and socially conscious

The highest percentage of consumers (40%) who shop second-hand are 18 to 24-year old females. Since these consumers do not have a lot of disposable income they are price sensitive and motivated to save when purchasing clothing. Millennials also have an affinity for the environment are more likely to switch brands for environmental reasons.

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Tricia McKinnonTrends