by George Waters-
Thrifting clothes is becoming more popular by the day. According to a report by ThredUp, the second-hand market is projected to boom 127% by 2026 from where it was only two years ago.
In the business world, that type of growth is generally beyond even the most optimistic of expectations, but why are so many people flocking to this market?
The best way to look at this is from the beginning, and reusing clothes and materials has been a facet of society for generations. As the authors of this Tryst article cover, thrifting in the U.S. is commonly linked to the Salvation Army’s inception in the early 1900s.
In reality, its roots go back even further as immigrants found ways to make what money they could selling used clothes and items on the streets. Before that, families would pass down clothes from one kid to the next as they were handmade.
As time went on, and thrifting became more of a social phenomenon and less of a familial one, its popularity dipped before rising back up in recent decades.
This can be attributed to a number of factors. Thrift shops have always been valued because of how cost-effective they are for the consumer, but a concern for the environment has likely sparked a new wave of conscientious customers.
Gen Z is especially contributing to this sentiment and is commonly attributed to the market’s rapid growth. Fashion guides using thrift hauls are extremely successful over social media.
There are some concerns, as this NY Times article points out, about how second-hand markets are growing however. The rise in fast fashion is flooding stores with cheap, poorly made clothes that consumers are less likely to buy but still take up precious time for employees to catalog.
Additionally, the surge in consumers has the potential to deplete the quality stock and create a rise in pricing, driving away the individuals with little cash flow that these institutions were originally designed for.
Either way, the second-hand market is making its push to become the first choice in the eyes of consumers.