The clothing resale market is booming in the U.S. Nine million more Americans bought secondhand clothes in 2017 than in 2016. Retailers and brands are taking notice with mixed reactions.
CGTN’s Karina Huber reports.
Rachel Ford is passionate about fashion. She also likes a good deal, which is part of why she has become a regular user of online luxury consignment site the RealReal.
As the president of a media agency that creates content for brands, looking trendy is part of the job description.
“I like to recycle through clothing so that I’m always keeping it fresh, but not necessarily spending a ton of money to do so,” said Ford, President of Ford Media Lab.
Ford likes to shop on the site, but she mainly uses it to resell her clothing. She said she gets about 50% of her purchase price if it’s in good condition.
“The money back is not as crucial to me as just the fact that there’s some place these clothes can go. It’s not harming the environment. Hopefully, someone else is getting joy out of them and it frees up my closet for something new,” said Ford.
A growing number of U.S. consumers feel the same as Ford.
The RealReal is one of the dominant players in the luxury consignment market but thrift stores are also doing well as the market for used clothing is expanding. By 2028, it is expected to balloon to 64 billion dollars.
That’s according to online consignment retailer ThredUp. Department stores have taken notice, which is why Macy’s has teamed up with ThredUp to create second-hand experiences in some of their stores.
Some luxury brands have begun to embrace resale sites, but not Chanel. It launched a lawsuit against the RealReal claiming the site has no way of authenticating the Chanel handbags sold on the site.
RealReal denies the claims and said it’s a veiled attempt to stop people from reselling their handbags.
Burt Flickinger, Managing Director at Strategic Resource Group, believes luxury has no reason to be threatened by sites like the RealReal.
“It gets more people into the brand at the entry-level price points who will ultimately migrate up to Hermes, or Chanel or whomever the luxury brand retailer is when that person has some more disposable income,” said Flickinger.
The ‘circular economy’ of buying and reselling clothes is only expected to grow, which means brands and retailers have no choice but to adapt.