Retail in Asia


Pre-owned clothing industry shows promise

The estimated value of the apparel, footwear, and accessories resale market is between USD 100 and USD 120 billion worldwide, more than three times the size it was in 2020, according to new research by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Vestiaire Collective, a global platform for pre-owned fashion.

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The secondhand market is already worth 3 percent to 5 percent of the overall apparel, footwear, and accessories sector and could grow to as much as 40 percent. Currently, resale products make up approximately one quarter of secondhand products buyers’ closets. The figure is expected to rise to 27 percent by 2023.

Gen-Z consumers are the most apt to both buy (31 percent) and sell (44 percent) secondhand items, with millennials close behind.

“At BCG, we have been analyzing the global resale market in detail since its infancy,” said Sarah Willersdorf, BCG’s global head of luxury and coauthor of the report. “It is now certain that consumers have embraced secondhand and it’s changing the way they buy and sell their clothes. There is a tremendous opportunity for brands that enter this market to capture new customers while also appealing to existing shoppers motivated by sustainability, affordability, and exclusivity.”

The report is based on two global surveys of 6,000 consumers conducted in 2020, and 2,000 consumers in 2022, to better understand their engagement with the resale market. While affordability was cited as the primary driver for buying secondhand items among more than half of respondents, this factor is gradually decreasing in its significance. Driving forces for purchasing pre-owned clothing now include consumption and product variety, according to 35 percent of survey respondents.

Source: Vestiaire Collective

Moreover, sixty percent of pre-owned clothing sellers are motivated by cleaning and reducing their wardrobes. Sixty percent of respondents are also motivated to recover the residual value of their item to reinvest in more clothing, either on secondhand (39 percent) or firsthand (20 percent) products.

While selling is an increasingly adopted behavior among buyers, not all buyers have sold items on the secondhand market themselves. Thirty percent of buyers are interested in selling items but haven’t been able to find the time to list their items. Moreover, 30 percent of respondents prefer to give their items away to friends or charities. One quarter of buyers reported that they wouldn’t know what items they would sell from their wardrobes.

“Vestiaire Collective was created in 2009 with one mission: to transform the fashion industry for a more sustainable future,” said Fanny Moizant, Cofounder and President of Vestiaire Collective.

“We are proud to see that sustainability and environmental awareness are increasing drivers for customers to buy and sell, but also for companies who wish to integrate circularity into their business model.”

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Nearly 60 percent of consumers have either discovered a brand or bought it for the first time secondhand, underscoring the strong opportunity for brands to increase their reach to new customers by participating in the resale market.