Is Second-Hand Fashion the Winner for Shoppers?

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By Published On: October 7, 20190 Comments

Any and all fashion lovers take advantage of the hottest trends that hit the Big Four Fashion Weeks across the globe. From New York to Milan, these styles will have the ultimate influence over retailer's latest best sellers. However, as consumers become savvier with environmental issues, is this set to change?

Op shops, fashion rental services and online marketplaces are some of the most popular ways to snag a designer piece at a discounted price. Retailers like Depop, Designerex, and Rent the Runway have taken this trend and ran with it, becoming some of the most successful alternative fashion outlets.

Scott Galloway, Business Professor at New York University, explained that fast fashion might be falling out of favour – and second-hand pieces are taking their spot. “The new disrupter in retail, the new gangster that’s going to create hundreds of billions in shareholder value is the second-hand resale market,” he said at the INFORM News Media Summit 2019.

As the next generation of shoppers become savvier with online purchases, they’re taking the initiative to purchase pre-loved goods over brand new items. “It’s being driven by young people,” Mr Gallowa explained.

The End of the “It’ Era?

Social media, e-commerce and fast-growing fashion trends have pushed annual fashion trends out of the window. Now, fashion punters rely on seasonal trends to look their best, but even this is coming to an end. What was once the ‘it’ items of the season are no longer a sought after – an oversaturation of the designer label market has broadened the consumer’s choice to the point of exhaustion.

It’s not just consumers noticing this trend, it’s retailers too. The industry, according to Marina Larroudé, Barneys New York Fashion Director, “is not like in fashion 15 years ago, when it was about the Fendi Baguette, and you’d see it everywhere, the trends were very clear.”

“At its height, the industry was dominated by a few styles, it was very specific and went everywhere. Now I feel like styles have almost a cult attraction. It’s far more fragmented — consumers are more savvy about personal style and understanding what they like and don’t like rather than being led by a singular style,” explained Lisa Aiken, Women’s Fashion Director at Moda Operandi.

Designers like Dior and Fendi have re-introduced its most ‘iconic’ it bags to the market in 2017 and 2018 – Dior’s Saddle bag and Fendi’s Baguette bag. The reintroduction of these accessories was aimed to re-establish the era of the ‘it’ bag – complete with an overhaul on social media and features during Fashion Weeks.

What About Fast Fashion?

Fast fashion, from retailers like Zara, H&M, Boohoo and Fashion Nova have certainly changed the ways consumers shop – they want it cheap, and they want it now. Designs that have been ‘ripped off’ the runway are a staple behind many of the best seller high fashion goods – they sell like hotcakes due to their low prices and convenience. Of course, there’s a hidden cost behind these affordable alternatives, and the next generation of shoppers are taking notice.

According to the True Cost, the world consumes 80 billion pieces of clothing, with 11 million items hitting the landfill every week. According to the State of Fashion 2019, the fashion industry is set to grow slowly, with sales for accessories, shoes and apparel is set to stay somewhat the same.

Source: The State of Fashion 2019

What’s So Good About Second-Hand?

In an era where social media showcases everyone’s personality, being unique can be hard to prove. From influencers to models, social media platforms can start to blur the lines between one user and another. Everyone is wearing the same clothes, following the same people and buying from the same retailers. It’s becoming harder to stand out from the crowd, and second-hand items are a comfortable place to start if you want a bit of individuality. A Fendi Spybag may have been the hottest bag in 2005, but you’d be hard-pressed finding someone rocking it now.

There’s a science behind finding something unique, too. ‘Shopaholics’ will experience a rush of endorphins when they purchase something new, and the same effect happens when you find a piece of clothing or an accessory that no one else has.

Just like personalisation is a crucial way to ensure a consumer’s trust, being seen as an individual is just as important to a shopper. This is where vintage shopping comes in.

Stacking Up the Numbers

The fast fashion industry is worth $2.81 billion in 2018 in Australia alone, but the secondhand market is growing exponentially. According to SMH, the second-hand fashion industry is worth $35.5 billion in 2018, and is set to keep growing as the trend continues to grow.

For Young Millennials and Gen Z shoppers, 41 per cent said they feel guilty after buying a product they don’t need, said Krupali Cescau, the Director of Amplify. “[Young peoples’] value systems are quite progressive, but their behaviours haven’t quite caught up with them yet,” she explained.

The Second Coming of Luxury Fashion

While fast fashion remains popular amongst the majority of fashion shoppers, second-hand items and ‘unknown’ brands are making their way to the mainstream. “The consumer is much more willing to buy a bag for $300 from a brand they have never heard of before. This is a change in consumer behaviour. Before it was, ‘No, I just want to buy very high-end designer brands.’ Now they are more willing to try out a new brand. The customer can buy two or three in a season,” explained Ms Larroudé.

What retailers are about to face is the ‘Golden Age’ of second-hand shopping. Apps like Depop, Vestiare Collective, Vinted and even larger online marketplaces like eBay are promoting the rise of this Golden Age, showcasing the hottest vintage pieces available for the public to purchase.

Even celebrities are taking this trend and running with it – the Kardashian family announced their new venture into the second-hand market by releasing an app with their own clothes. Labels like Balmain, Alexander Wang and Louis Vuitton, all worn or owned by the infamous reality stars, are up for sale to the highest bidder. It’s a one-way train to revenue heaven, and it’s becoming a popular option for the younger generation of online shoppers.

On Our Radar

There are a few retailers within Australia, Europe, the U.S. who are making waves within the second-hand and fashion rental industry.

Designerex is an Australian fashion rental company – the largest peer-to-peer platform that provides safe and secure rentals of large retailers from the world. “Fashion-savvy consumers are heavy users of the platform, though let’s not forget about the non-fashion-savvy consumers who never intend on wearing a gown to the one-off gala event they have to attend, or savvy mothers having to buy multiple formal dresses for their daughters. To put it simply, it is just a smarter and more flexible way of consuming fashion at a time when being sustainable and reducing the giant impact of fast fashion is important to so many consumers,” explained Kristen Kore, the Co-Founder of Designerex.

Depop is an app that’s designed like Instagram, with users buying and selling apparel in a marketplace-style setting. With 11 million users across a global scale, it’s one of the most successful platforms within the industry.

Vestiare Collective is a high-end fashion retailer that sells vintage and pre-loved designer pieces. All goods go through an authentication process and include labels such as Burberry, Gucci, YSL and Chanel.

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About the Author: Power Retail

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