The global secondhand apparel market is poised to grow to $350 billion by 2028, with the U.S. market accounting for $73 billion of that, according to new research released by fashion marketplace ThredUp.

Resale is the engine behind secondhand growth, having outpaced the wider retail clothing sector 15-fold in 2023, with online seeing accelerated growth of 23% year on year.

The conclusions are among the findings of the 12th annual ThredUp Resale Report, which aims to measure and forecast the performance of the secondhand market and resale industry and outline its current trends.

Resale is forecast to more than double by 2028, outpacing the retail clothing sector by 6.4-fold, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17%. It is predicted to more than double its market share over the next 10 years, with at a CAGR of 11%, attaining the largest volume share of any distribution channel by 2033.

Online advances

Online resale is poised to make up half of all secondhand spend by 2025, on course to more than double in the next five years, with a CAGR of 17%, to stand at $40 billion in 2028.

Some 63% of U.S. consumers who bought secondhand in 2023 made a purchase online, a rise of 17 points from 2022, with the figure for Gen Z and Millennials even higher at 71%.

Of this young demographic, 45% prefer to buy secondhand apparel online, versus 38% who prefer to shop at a brick-and-mortar store.

Retailers are using resale to attract new shoppers, with 38% of consumers saying they buy secondhand to afford more upmarket brands, up 11 points from 2022.

Used fashion continues to gain in popularity among the public, with two out of five apparel items purchased in 2023 being secondhand, found researchers.

This is partly because, “Resale thrives in a value-seeking environment,” said ThredUp, adding that 60% of consumers say that “shopping secondhand apparel gives them the most bang for their buck.”

A full 69% of consumers who resold apparel in 2023 did it to make extra money, found ThredUp.

Companies jump on resale bandwagon

Companies are also reaping the rewards, as resale “boosts circularity and drives revenue.” Some 87% of brands who offer resale say it has advanced their sustainability goals, while 67% say it will generate a meaningful (more than 10% of the total) revenue stream for them within five years.

Branded resale posted 31% y-o-y growth in 2023, with 163 brands now having resale shops, including J.Crew, American Eagle and Kate Spade among others as of 2023.

And 74% of retail executives who don’t currently offer resale are either considering or planning on getting into resale in the future, a gain of five points versus 2022.

Meanwhile, nine out of ten retail executives say their customers are already participating in resale — an all-time high, up by four points on the previous year.

“The global secondhand apparel market continues to burgeon — a testament to the intrinsic value shoppers find in the secondhand experience and proof of the seismic shift towards a more circular fashion ecosystem,” said ThredUp CEO James Reinhart, introducing the report.

“As we celebrate this progress, we also recognize the powerful role the government can play in accelerating the transition to a more sustainable future for fashion… Until fashion is no longer one of the most damaging sectors of the global economy, we will continue to advocate for the government to help drive adoption and behavior change in fashion.”

The report contains research and data from GlobalData, a third-party retail analytics firm, which drew on consumer surveys, retailer tracking, official public data, data sharing, store observation and secondary sources. GlobalData surveyed 3,654 U.S. adults over 18 in December 2023.

Oakland, California-based fashion marketplace ThredUp posted a 14% year-on-year (y-o-y) rise in revenue in Q4, taking the indicator to $81.4 million.

All graphics from ThredUp’s Resale Report 2024

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