Fashion’s new home
One retail category we’ve been watching closely over the last 12 to 18 months is resale.
Resale includes secondhand stores, consignment shops, vintage boutiques, thrift shops, and resale websites for pre- loved items. Upcycling and repurposing clothing to sell has been around for almost as long as fashion itself.
The idea spun during the industrial revolution when the mass production of clothing became the norm and created a surplus of used clothing. Thrift — or consignment stores — absorbed the surplus goods. They were then sold by religious ministries like Goodwill, St Vincent De Paul, The Smith Family, Red Cross, Lifeline or the Salvation Army, to raise funds for their community programs.
Good as new, or gently used clothing, gets a second chance in today’s global economy thanks to the array of thrift stores across Australia, where consumers have a comparable and eco-friendly alternative to satisfying their modern fashion fix.
From 2017 to 2019, millennial and Gen Z second hand sales have increased by 37% and 46%, respectively, in the USA alone. For these new younger generations, thrifting presents an opportunity for self-expression and keeping up with the latest fashion trends as purported by savvy Instagram influencers.
Today’s modern consumer can mix and match new fashion with high-end and second-hand clothing to create their own brand of style that speaks to their individual personality.
The resale market for 2019 has a $28 billion worldwide valuation, and is projected to hit $41 billion by 2022. The resale fashion category has grown 21 times faster than the retail market over the past three years. It shouldn’t be surprising given consumers’ keen awareness and vocal criticism of the negative effects fast fashion has had on the environment, that more people than ever are choosing to shop second hand.
Here in Australia, there are over 2,500 opportunity or resale shops operated by Charity organisations according to data from NACRO (National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations). Recommerce as an industry is expected to double in size over the next 5 years.
Frugal, value-conscious Millennials are actively erasing the stigma formerly associated with resale. Resale enables consumers to upgrade the quality of their wardrobe for the same amount of money they would pay for fast fashion and off-priced or closeout apparel.
The circular fashion movement and the uptick in resale are fueled, at least in part, by the desire for more sustainability and consumer mindfulness.
Resale or charity recycling is one of the largest and oldest forms of retailing still operating in Australia. Last year Gross sales for this business was greater than $500M in turnover. These stores are a vital source of funding for charities community support programs and over 1 million tonnes of goods were donated last year throughout Australia alone.
Last year over 285 million items were given a second or third life through charity shops, which diverted over 588,00 tonnes away from landfill last year. In terms of turnover, over 40 million transactions were recorded last year equivalent to every Australian shopper making a purchase at least twice a year at charity shops. Clothing and textiles accounted for 48% of Op Shop sales. Homewares, Bric-a-brac and books are 46% and furniture makes up around 6% of sales.
St Vincent De Paul, administered by the catholic church has around 640 stores nationally, while the Salvos operate 340 stores, the third largest chain is Lifeline with 190 stores. The Smith Family operate in NSW and the ACT and are growing annually. They are now up to 19 stores, while Anglicare in NSW now operate 24 stores.
But resale is not only a charity initiative.
In each capital city there are groups of vintage and eclectic retailers that have banded together in small niche pockets like Gertrude street in Fitzroy Melbourne, King Street in Newtown or Oxford street in Paddington Sydney. In Adelaide resale and vintage fashion, collectors have joined forces in Unley, Prospect and Brompton while in Brisbane these stores mainly lie around West Ends’ Vulture and Boundary streets.
No matter what the occasion, some women just want to stand apart from everyone else - look just that little bit more unique. Believe it or not, these enthusiasts of fashion often have one thing in common; they buy much of their clothing at these vintage fashion outlets and mix and match the latest accessory trends.
The millennial trendsetters are no strangers to scouring the racks for unique vintage and their favorite style. The A-listers are often caught shopping under guise of dark sunglasses and huge hats, reaffirming that vintage and collectables are the best and coolest way to shop for that ‘something unique’.
While it may at first seem surprising that style icons rely on older pieces to adapt new trends, there’s a reason why they haven’t been thrown out. Some of the best fashion treasures lie in a vintage shop.
Fashion is cyclical, and what was old will almost certainly become new again. It’s no coincidence that styles like flared denim and crop tops that were popular decades ago are now once again driving the trend-driven landscape of today’s youth.
Therefore, you should never throw away your favorite pieces! If they fit and flatter you but have gone out of style, store them away in a box in the back of your closet for a few years… they just might make a style comeback.