Art & Fashion

Fast Fashion Is Out: How the Rise of Resale Culture Is Paving the Way for Ethical Fashion

The rise of thrifting; we’ve all been witness to it. What was once a shameful secret is now a booming business with a considerable future. Buying second hand-clothes has been a way to repurpose someone’s unwanted items where they are new and interesting to another. Thrifting also allows you to discover the original vintage items you would otherwise try to raid your mom’s closet for.

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Image: Spark Pretty

Of course, the business of thrifting hasn’t only taken to the streets, as evidenced by the popularity of eBay. Perusing the site for those rare items or cheaper finds has captured many a person’s evening. Online consignment and thrift store ThredUp predicts that the sector could swell up to $51 billion by 2023, over double than its worth in 2018. And this popularity surge in used clothes is good news for the planet, as less demand for new and “fast” fashion means a reduction in the environmental impact.

A New Age in Thrifting

Thrifting has upped its game. Companies like The RealReal are taking the business of second-hand shopping more seriously than ever before, by incorporating a verification program in their luxury-focused service. “The RealReal puts all items offered for consignment and resale through its own unique, rigorous, multi-point and brand-specific authentication process before it accepts them,” claims a representative.

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Image: The RealReal / New York Times

Online marketplace eBay even started its own authentication process in 2017. A higher standard has been set for the business of buying second-hand. On top of this, The RealReal has been public on the Nasdaq stock market for the last few months, giving more legitimacy to this growing market. A circular economy is in full swing.

Fast Fashion and Even Faster Global Warming

The resale business has a particular advantage when it comes to marketing. Buying second-hand makes shopping at places such as The RealReal, ThredUp, and Depop (among others) the more environmentally friendly option. With an ever-growing heavy public conscience about climate change and the earth’s limited resources, the public is proving more receptive to sustainable shopping habits and eco-friendly purchases.

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Image: Apparel Views

Awareness of the harmful impact of fast fashion is positive news for the resale market. The RealReal alleges that over 80% of their customers see their sustainability as an important reason for shopping with them, with their Director of Strategic Initiatives also noting that she has seen this interest rise through the years. Going by this trajectory, it’s possible that second-hand clothing could be the future of sustainable and ethical fashion.

They Don’t Make Them Like They Used to

Second-hand e-commerce platforms like Depop, Poshmark, and Etsy are becoming more normalized in today’s world. Once a more underground form of shopping, it’s now making it’s way into the mainstream. Peer-to-peer shopping app Depop opened its first pop-up shop this summer in London’s Selfridges – a large, high-end department store. A go-to for vintage enthusiasts, the Chief Marketing Officer of Depop acknowledges that they are part of “this never-ending cycle of unique items.”

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Image: Hypebae

It isn’t just specialized retailers catering to the eco-conscious crowd. Brands on a whole have been under more scrutiny for unethical business practices, waste prevention plans, cuts in emissions, and general sustainability measures. Fashion houses like Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood have been paving the way for other big-name brands to take more responsibility for their environmental impact. While strides are being made there is still a long way to go – but we wouldn’t be surprised to see the fashion industry respond to concerns about sustainability with more action.