If you’ve been paying attention to the online fashion industry, there’s a new trend. Instead of buying new clothes, more consumers are turning to renting, reselling or thrifting clothes. In fact, secondhand, subscription, and rental are the top 3 fastest growing categories. This new trend called recommerce is starting to gain traction as consumers looks for sustainable and affordable ways to fill their closets with variety and value.
So, what is recommerce exactly? Learn more about why consumers are renting and buying secondhand fashion, and what’s going on behind the second to make recommerce as accessible as ever.
What is Fashion Recommerce?
Fashion recommerce, or resale is the renting, reselling, or thrifting of apparel. Instead of buying new clothes and then either donating or trashing them, consumers are looking to new ways to access and own apparel.
Over the past three years, the fashion resale market has been expanding 21x faster than traditional retail. Those leading the change include:
- Rent the Runway – Launched in 2009, this online service focuses on rental of designer clothing, dresses and accessories.
- threadUP – Founded in 2009, thredUP is one the largest online consignment and thrift stores to buy and sell high-quality secondhand clothes.
- Poshmark – Social commerce marketplace to buy and sell new or used clothing, shoes, and accessories.
Why are consumers turning to alternative ways to buy clothes?
Consumers Change Their Expectations from Fashion Brands
See how the shift in consumer’s expectations are leading to a revolution in the fashion industry.
Experiences over Ownership
More retailers are experimenting with ways to provide consumers better access to the things they want, with less emphasis on ownership and purchasing. Instead, consumers are looking for better access to different experiences or options. This sharing-economy mindset looks similar to other businesses like Spotify, Netflix, Uber and Airbnb.
For example, Rent the Runway gives access to designer clothes for special occasions like prom, weddings, and more. Even if you only need the clothes for one event, it’s easier to rent. It’s more value for your money, and it’s not wasteful.
Fashion has long been known for its negative impact on the environment. Fast fashion has led to pollution problems. Jeff Reinhard, CEO of threadUp explained in a retail keynote that consumers are buying considerably more clothes, but not wearing them nearly as long. This leads to the serious issue of an equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles being dumped in a landfill or incinerated every second.
Younger generations, especially Millennials and GenZ, are very conscious of how fashion contributes to waste. They want to spend their money with brands that promote sustainability and transparency. It’s no surprise then that 18 to 37 year olds are adopting secondhand apparel 2.5x faster than other age group. Also, in the past, shopping ethically was often seen as out of reach. Ethical and sustainable products can come at a high price tags. Luckily, a secondhand market makes those same high-end products available to more people.
The Thrill of Thrifting
According to this thredUP 2019 resale report, secondhand shopping transcends age and in income levels. Secondhand shopping is closely split between generations GenZ to Boomers. Even around 20% of luxury, department, and value chain shoppers will buy secondhand.
Beyond sustainability, all shoppers enjoy the thrill of the hunt. They look for the continual refreshment of options, unlike traditional retail where refresh happen 4 to 6 times a year. They like being able to constantly change their wardrobe, without filling up their closet or worrying about throwing away low-quality clothes at the end.
What’s Making Fashion Recommerce Happen
Secondhand shopping or renting isn’t a new idea, but more consumers than ever are taking part. What’s changed? Technology.
Innovative technology has made the resale market accessible to more people. It’s now a convenient process that anyone can partake in, without even leaving their home. Consumers can easily ship unwanted clothes from their home to sellers and quickly receive cash. Online sites make it possible for customers to pursue thousands of items and quickly narrow down their choices. Images and better product descriptions also give customers the confidence to buy, even if it’s used. On the backend, most of these processes are now automated so platforms like thredUP can be efficient in receiving, listing, and pricing out clothes in sheer volumes.
It’s no surprise then that recommerce is rivaling traditional fashion. The resale report states that 51% of consumers plan to spend more on secondhand in the next 5 years.
The Future of Fashion Recommerce
Recommerce isn’t fad. There’s a revolution happening in the retail industry that will have lasting effects on how consumers interact with fashion brands. More consumers want to participate in renting and resale clothing, and more online platforms are giving them access to that.
The global online clothing rental market is expected to grow annually by over 10% for the next four years, according to MarketWatch. The total secondhand apparel market will double in five years, reaching $51 billion.
Retail executives are taking notice. 96% of senior retail executives surveyed want to advance their company’s circular fashion efforts by 2020. This means testing resale, rental, and refurbishment models. Expect to see more platforms like threadUP and more traditional retailers add ways for customers to recycle their clothes.