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Profiting from second-hand clothes

Once a practice that had no association with booming fashion trends, second hand clothing has now become the growing trend among generation Z. The fashion industry has taken note, shifting more focus toward second hand sales of its clothes and favourable profits have followed, Cecilia Alvarez-Hevia Arias writes in Spanish Vogue. 

H&M saw a huge rise in its profits last quarter due to its second-hand clothing sales platform, Sellpy, while Inditex announced it will take its used clothing, repair and donation business to France and Germany after a successful trial in the UK. While these efforts are part of a broader sustainability strategy, it has also been a clear way to expand sales. 

Second hand clothing refers to garments that are less than 40 years old. While they don’t have the exclusivity value of a vintage label (more than 40 years old), or antique label (more than 80 years old), they are garments that might ordinarily go in the waste bin due to changing fashion cycles and are therefore a lot cheaper than their original price tag. However, with the rise of inflation and subsequent price hikes for mainstream fashion garments, pre-loved items in good condition have never been in more demand among young people that are strapped for cash. 

Certain platforms and applications that facilitate the sale of second hand clothes have created a secondary market built on three key factors – sustainability, economy and fashion devotion. There are even apps that help find items of clothing that have run out for people to sell their own surplus. People have the option to earn money selling something at the back of their closet to interested buyers – creating an effortless circular economy. Micolet, Etsy and Wallapop are some of the most popular apps used in Europe, while Vinted remains the largest application for buying and selling reused clothes in Europe with a valuation of €3.5 billion. Second hand store Humana is also benefiting from the trend, registering a 22% increase in customers in its 48 stores in Spain.

With the trend of Instagramers needing new outfits for continued content, some are also starting their own fashion trends, and there hasn’t been a time where mixing garments from prior seasons has been more fashionable. Just like cardboard, clothes are beginning to have a second, third and fourth life, creating a business that benefits both big companies and consumer pockets.


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