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The Secondhand Market Is Booming — Here’s How the Pandemic Plays a Part

Against the backdrop of climate change and the coronavirus crisis, an increasing number of consumers are adopting new ways of purchasing apparel, footwear and accessories — giving resale an added boost.

According to Vestiaire Collective, more people are engaging with circular fashion — in terms of both buying and selling — as part of a more sustainable lifestyle. It shared that secondhand market currently represents $30 billion to $40 billion in value around the world, and will likely expand over the next five years by a compound annual growth rate of 15% to 20%.

In addition, the online reseller — which partnered with management advisory firm Boston Consulting Group on a survey of more than 7,000 respondents across France, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States — found that the average percentage of resale items in one’s wardrobe is predicted to climb from 21% to 27% by 2023. Although affordability, selection availability and item uniqueness are among the key drivers of secondhand buying, consumers’ escalating concerns over the state of the planet have also contributed to such growth.

When asked how they planned to adapt their behavior toward fashion when the global situation begins to normalize, 62% of respondents said they intend to buy more from from online secondhand platforms. Additionally, 45% said they would do more of their shopping online.

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Luxury labels, nationwide retailers and even new brands stand to benefit from an uptick in the secondhand market: According to the report, 62% of consumers would be more willing to buy from fashion players that partner with secondhand marketplaces, and 48% of secondhand shoppers purchased a brand that was new to them.

“There are many ways brands can capture value from the growing market. They stand to gain as much as their customers from the new circular economy, but reaping the full benefits requires understanding where the opportunities lie,” read the report, which was written by researchers Sarah Willersdorf, Felix Krüger, Raphael Estripeau, Maelle Gasc and Charlotte Mardon. “Brands should explore such options as selling secondhand themselves, developing their own resale platforms, instituting buy-back programs and partnering with existing resale platforms to leverage outside expertise.”

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