Fashion Resale Grows 15X Faster Than Retail

More than 160 apparel brands, including Lululemon Like New, offer used clothing.

Whether they’re motivated by sustainability, saving money, or the siren song of a vintage treasure, Americans' appetite for secondhand apparel keeps growing.

In its 12th annual report on the fragmented resale market, ThredUp says the U.S. secondhand apparel universe grew seven times faster than the overall retail clothing market last year. Sales are expected to reach $73 billion by 2028. Globally, secondhand apparel growth last year was 15 times larger than the broader retail market. And ThredUp predicts that the market will achieve an annual growth rate of 12%, reaching $350 billion by 2028.

ThredUp conducts the research with GlobalData, a retail analytics company, and includes market sizing estimates, a survey of 3,600 U.S. consumers and findings from 50 top U.S. fashion retailers and brands.



While Goodwill Industries, thrift stores, ThredUp, Poshmark, and RealReal remain significant players, one of the fastest-growing segments is branded resale, up 31% year over year. The report finds that 163 brands offer resale shops, including Levi’s, Lululemon, Eileen Fisher, Patagonia, and REI.

The report digs into varying motivations. Certainly, among the young consumers who are the most avid thrifters, sustainability is a key factor, as is personal style. But last year’s inflation and macroeconomic pressures are top of mind, with consumers hunting for bargains.

Three out of four say value is the most important factor in used-clothing decisions, and 60% agree shopping secondhand gives them the most bang for their buck. More than half – 55% -- say they’ll spend more on secondhand apparel if the economy doesn’t improve. They also value the way secondhand outlets can dress them up in brands that are otherwise out of reach, with 38% saying they shop secondhand to afford those higher-end labels. That’s up 11 points from 2022.

Also different this year? “For the first time ever, younger generations prefer buying online versus in a brick-and-mortar store,” the report notes, with 45% of young shoppers favoring online sales. Just 38% prefer brick-and-mortar stores.

Two out of three people who made a secondhand apparel purchase in 2023 bought at least one of those items online, a 17-point jump from 2022.

Another change is that brands are beginning to see resale efforts as genuine money-makers. Nearly two in three retail executives now offering resale think it will generate at least 10% of total revenue within five years. And 87% say resale is helping them meet sustainability targets.

“With more than half of all consumers shopping for secondhand apparel last year, it’s evident that resale is now firmly embedded in the fashion landscape,” writes Neil Saunders, GlobalData’s managing director, in the report. “Secondhand buying transcends generations, with the role of resale changing throughout consumers’ lives. Younger shoppers turn to secondhand for self-expression and to help create their style; parents rely on secondhand to outfit their families in a cost-effective and eco-conscious way; and older generations turn to secondhand to snag affordable, higher-end brands and for the thrill of the hunt.”

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