Resale is on the move, people! From big retailers to small retailers, seed stage investors to large buyout firms, and from the New York Times to Netflix, everyone seems to be talking about the future of resale. Part of me says, “It’s about time!” but the other part says, “Everybody slow your roll!” Like all major movements and category disruptions, mainstream adoption happens over time, and this category is just getting started.
The last few years of growth in the resale market have been driven by the early adopters (the same ones who first adopted Airbnb or Lyft or DoorDash), but now the skeptics are starting to come around. At thredUP, we’re seeing first-time thrifters coming to platforms like ours in droves. Not surprisingly, the younger generations are leading this charge, with millennials and Gen Z adopting secondhand 2.5x faster than other age groups.
Even traditional retailers are starting to embrace secondhand. The resale customer is no longer somebody else’s customer, they are everybody’s customer. Mass market or luxury, if people can find a high-quality product for much less, they’ll choose used. As the line between new and used apparel blurs for consumers, a powerful transformation in retail will unfold.
The resale customer is no longer somebody else’s customer, they are everybody’s customer. Mass market or luxury, if people can find a high-quality product for much less, they’ll choose used.
I’ve never been more excited about resale’s potential to delight customers and help create a more sustainable future. We hope you enjoy reading our 2019 Resale Report as much as we’ve enjoyed pulling it together. We believe this year, more than ever, the data speaks for itself.
thredUP’s Annual Resale Report contains research & data from GlobalData, a third-party retail analytics firm. GlobalData’s assessment of the secondhand market is determined through consumer surveys, retailer tracking, official public data, data sharing, store observation, and secondary sources. These inputs are used by analysts to model and calculate market sizes, channel sizes, and market shares. Further, for the purpose of this report, GlobalData conducted a January 2019 survey of 2,000 American women over 18, asking specific questions about their behaviors and preferences for secondhand. thredUP’s Resale Report also leverages data from the following sources: Green Story Research, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a survey of Senior Retail Executives, internal thredUP customer and brand performance data, and fashion insights from EDITED. View all sources here.
Secondhand: Consumption of all used apparel. Includes both the Resale sector and the Thrift & Donation sector.
Donation & Thrift: A sector of the broader ‘secondhand’ market that includes traditional options such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, and yard sales. These secondhand options are primarily, but not exclusively, offline.
Resale: A sector of the broader ‘secondhand’ market that includes more curated product assortments, often well merchandised and/or higher end. Examples include thredUP and TheRealReal as well as upscale physical players like Buffalo Exchange. These secondhand options are primarily, but not exclusively, online.
Secondhand Products: Consumption of all used apparel, footwear, accessories, books, furniture, entertainment, and beauty.
View all definitions here.
All third party brand names and logos appearing in this report are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders. Any such appearance does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement of thredUP.
Published: March 2019
Managed marketplace for all brands—from GAP to Gucci.
Managed marketplace for luxury and designer brands.
Peer-to-peer marketplace focused on social commerce.
Resale has grown
faster than the retail
apparel market over
the past three years.1
Includes apparel, footwear, accessories, books, furniture, entertainment, and beauty.
women bought secondhand products in 2018, up from
26% of luxury shoppers also buy secondhand.
25% of department store shoppers also buy secondhand.
22% of value chain shoppers also buy secondhand.
Innovations like the thredUP Clean Out Kit make it easy to sell from home, attracting millions to participate in resale for the first time.
Sophisticated algorithms assign resale value at scale. thredUP uses millions of historical data points to instantly determine what something is worth.
Resellers must be efficient when photographing, listing, and storing infinite SKUs. thredUP automates processing of up to 100K one-of-a-kind items a day.
Mobile apps and personalization have made buying used clothes as easy as buying new. Convenience and trust has attracted a new generation of secondhand shoppers.
“Rental & pre-owned will increase as consumers regularly update looks for social media & as consumer attitudes toward ownership and sustainability change.”
of consumers expect retailers to create clothes ethically and sustainably.2
“Shopping ethically has often been perceived as a luxury, because of the price points...The good news is that we now live in the golden age of secondhand shopping.”
of 18-29 year olds prefer retailers that offer new arrivals every time they visit.2
thredUP lists 30K new items every single day. That’s 150x more than H&M!7
of 18-29 year olds prefer to buy from sustainably conscious brands.2
Buying one used item reduces its carbon footprint by 82%.3
“There are numerous reasons for the recent rise of resale, including environmental benefits and the desire for frequent turnover of wardrobes especially among the Instagram generation.”
The average number of items in consumers’ closets is declining.2
If 1 in 10 Netflix subscribers cleaned out their closets it would generate 667M pounds of trash.*
Resale responsibly turns that trash into treasure—creating a bargain hunter’s paradise.
thredUP saw an 80% spike in Clean Out Kits when Kondo’s show first aired on Netflix.
*Pounds of trash: calculated based on if 10% of Netflix subscribers (5.8M) threw away 5 trash bags worth of clothing each (30 items per bag).
of consumers now consider the resale value of an item before buying it.2
That's nearly a
increase from 5 years ago.2
Currently building homes that are designed to be shared, not owned.
Announced plans to offer furniture rentals.
Brands are now creating clothes to be rented exclusively on RTR.
Produced a line of clothes designed to be resold.
“In fashion, the shift to new ownership models is driven by growing customer desire for variety, sustainability, and affordability. In 2019, we predict more consumers will see growing proportion of their wardrobes made up of pre-owned or rented products.”
GlobalData Market Sizing and Growth Estimates (2019)1
“Resale offers the wardrobe-rotating fun of fast fashion without the guilt or waste. By driving preferences away from disposable fashion towards higher-quality clothes, reuse is a boon for our personal style and the planet.”
fast fashion items were upcycled
last year on thredUP alone.7
Responses represent buying intentions of those who shopped each retail category.
of secondhand shoppers shifted spend away from traditional retailers to buy more used items.
The average secondhand shopper replaced
new apparel items with used items within the past 12 months.2
That’s $260 of spend diverted to secondhand.*
*Secondhand customers spend an average of $32.53 per item2, bringing total displacement spend of 8 items to $260.
“The retail sector needs to find ways to embrace, acquire, or partner with resale business models because customer adoption is likely to continue. Customers of the future will look for ways to recycle, resell or upcycle, and will be drawn to the incredible value of buying secondhand. We believe that brands will need to partner with resale sites and support the circular economy.”
thredUP pop-ups in department stores entice customers to spend
more and visit 70% more frequently.7
of consumers would increase loyalty to a brand if a recycling program was offered.2
“While established brands have traditionally turned a blind or scorning eye towards secondhand retail, they are now wading into the pre-owned and rental markets. Turning to the year ahead, we expect the number of brands getting into the rental, resale, and refurbishment businesses will increase markedly.”
Customers can bring their old Eileen Fisher clothes back and receive a $5 Rewards Card for each item.
Stella customers who consign with The RealReal receive an immediate $100 credit to shop at Stella stores.
Customers can clean out with thredUP and earn Cuyana credit, replacing cluttered wardrobes with fewer, better things.
Customers clean out with thredUP to earn Reformation credit. The program drives brand loyalty and has helped Reformation meet apparel recycling goals.
A new clothing line designed for the circular economy. Buy a T-shirt, refresh it anytime. For Days will recycle everything you send back.
Everlane launched a new collection made from recycled plastic bottles as part of a broader commitment to use no new plastic in clothing by 2021.
“thredUP's Resale Value Rankings give consumers the confidence to invest in garments that are durable and resellable. By mining thredUP's unique trove of data, we can help guide purchasers toward clothes that can be resold rather than discarded—a mindset shift that is good for wallets and the planet.”
Kate Spade soars to top 10, Henri Bendel is now in the top 50, and Karl Lagerfeld product is seeing a 200%+ sales spike.
Frye and Patagonia weave stories around the quality construction of their garments.
Lululemon soared to #9 in the rankings while Nike stayed flat in the 100s.
Jimmy Choo & Christian Louboutin
both dropped ~700 spots, while
Keds jumped over 1,000.
Kate Spade and Tory Burch jumped
into the top 10, climbing 76 and 59
Patagonia jumped 233
spots into the top 10.
Resale Value Ranking: thredUP evaluated 35,000+ unique brands on its platform and created an aggregate score to determine a brand's ranking based on demand, virality, and value to the seller.
Jumps & Drops: These reflect changes in a brand's resale ranking between 2017 and 2018.
*Resale Value Ranking: thredUP evaluated 35,000+ unique brands on its platform and created an aggregate score to determine a brand's ranking based on demand, virality, and value to the seller.
“By helping to increase the use of clothing, resale can play a key role in making fashion circular. Raising the average number of times clothing is worn is the most direct way to design out waste and pollution and capture value.”
The equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or incinerated every second.
108M tons of non-renewable resources are used each year to produce clothing.
The textile industry will account for 25% of the global carbon budget by 2050.
About Make Fashion Circular: Started by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, this initiative brings together leaders from across the fashion industry. The goal is to drive collaboration and innovation necessary to create a fashion industry that can thrive in the future, where clothes are made from safe and renewable materials, new business models increase their use, and used clothes are turned into new ones.
Materials: Clothes are made from safe and renewable materials.
Design: Create clothes in a way that they can be resold, renewed, or made into new clothes.
Resell: Extend the life of clothes via resale, rental, and other business models.
5.7B lbs of
Half a million cars taken
off the road for a year
Light up the Eiffel Tower
for 141 years
Fill up 1,140
The weight of 1M
1. GlobalData Market Sizing: GlobalData’s assessment of the secondhand market is determined through ongoing retailer tracking, official public data, data sharing, store observation, consumers surveys, and secondary sources. These inputs are used by analysts to model and calculate market sizes, channel sizes, and market shares.
2. GlobalData Survey: The consumer data in this report is derived from a consumer survey of 2,000 women. The survey asked them a number of questions about their attitudes towards apparel, secondhand products, and resale products. The sample was designed to be representative of age and income and was also geographically representative. Surveying was undertaken by GlobalData between December 11, 2018 and January 6, 2019.
3. Green Story Environmental Study: Independent research firm, Green Story Inc. was contracted to calculate the environmental savings from reuse of secondhand garments sold by thredUP. The study compared the environmental burden of purchasing a brand-new garment with that of reusing an average garment sold by thredUP across all stages of the garment’s lifecycle. The savings were calculated across three areas: greenhouse gas emissions, energy use and water consumption. The study followed international ISO 14040 LCA standard.
4. Ellen MacArthur Foundation: Data from 2015 report, “A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future.”
5. Senior Retail Executive Survey: 20 of the top retailers were surveyed in January 2019 about their 2020 Circular Fashion goals.
6. Resale Value Rankings: thredUP evaluated 35,000+ unique brands on its platform and created an aggregate score to determine a brand's ranking based on demand, virality and value to the seller.
7. Internal thredUP Customer Behavior / Data.
8. EDITED retail analytics.
Secondhand: Consumption of all used apparel. Includes both the Resale sector and the Thrift & Donation sector.
Off-Price: A retailer that sells items at lower prices than those typically charged by retail businesses. Off-price stores typically purchase overstocked goods or make special purchases. Examples include TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross, Burlington, etc.
Value Chains: Value stores are a retail format that sells inexpensive items, at a single or limited number of price points, like dollar stores. Also includes Walmart.
Mid-Priced Specialty: Specialist clothing retailers operating in the middle of the market in terms of price, i.e. not value but not premium or luxury. Tend to be found in malls or traditional main street locations. Examples include Gap, Ann Taylor
Fast Fashion: Specialist clothing retailers with a fast stock turnaround and whose model relies on selling high volumes at (usually) inexpensive price points. Examples include Zara, H&M, etc.
Direct to Consumer: Online only specialists and generalists selling clothing direct to the public, excludes C2C or auction type sites, also excludes the online part of traditional retail businesses. Examples include Everlane, Outdoor Voices, etc.
Amazon: Amazon's clothing sales in the US, stated at gross merchandise value.
Subscription: Subscription based services for clothing, such as StitchFix and Trunk Club. Excludes non-clothing elements of subscriptions where relevant; and rental.
Other: Sales of clothing from all other sources, including: grocers and supermarkets, drug stores, duty free, warehouse clubs, variety stores, other non-clothing specialists, convenience stores, etc.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation: Data from 2015 report, “A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future”
Raymond James, “The Rise of the Fashion Resale Marketplaces” 2018 Report
McKinsey x Business of Fashion “State of Fashion 2019” Report
Fast Company Article: “A Complete Guide to Buying Ethical Clothes on a Budget”