Generation Z boosts circular economy with new “buy-to-sell” trend

The new fashion phenomenon of “buying-to-sell” is a new fashion trend to emerge from generation Z, while the circular economy is being boosted as a result. In an article produced by, Esther Lastra writes that this new trend involves buying second hand clothes (often luxury brands) and reselling them for a profit. The movement first gained traction during the pandemic and continues to grow exponentially, motivated by emotional, environmental and economic factors. 

In the article, Lastra references a report produced by luxury clothing re-sale marketplace TheRealReal, which indicates that the number of items that have been resold on its platform has doubled over the last 2 years. The main demographic contributing to this new fashion fad is young people born between 1997 and 2012, namely generation Z. This demographic increased visits to TheRealReal by 25% during the first half of 2022 – which represented the highest growth for all demographic groups represented in the report. A particularly interesting statistic is that consumers are reselling clothes and accessories in increasingly shorter timeframes. Resale among those in the generation Z group jumped 50% during the first half of the year. Luxury items do particularly well in the resale business, notably luxury brand jewelry items such as Cartier watches. Lastra notes Prada and Reformation as two of the most resold brands, while Balenciaga is also a brand generating increasing interest on the platform.

In general, generation Z has a greater awareness and genuine interest in creating a circular economy and reducing the carbon footprint of purchases, however, the buy-to-sell trend also represents more traditional motivations that have little to do with sustainability. With inflation on the rise, buying second-hand items is a more affordable way to own luxury brands. Additionally, as these items can often rise in value due to demand, the practice of buying-to-sell also reaps financial advantages when selling for a profit. As the co-CEO of the RealReal Rati Sahi Levesque has publicly expressed, the practice of resale allows consumers to explore new areas of investment while increasing their involvement in the circular economy.


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