The report shows Gen Z and millennials are growing more open to buying and selling used clothing online.

A growing number of people are buying used clothing, propelling the secondhand industry to $177 billion in global sales last year, according to ThredUp’s 2023 resale report. The online reseller buys secondhand clothes from individual customers and has deals with retailers including The Gap Inc., J. Crew Group Inc., and Abercrombie & Fitch Co.

ThredUp ranks No. 781 in the Top 1000, Digital Commerce 360’s database of the largest North American online retailers. Gap is No. 19, Abercrombie & Fitch is No. 57, and J. Crew is No. 87.

Resale keeps growing

That 2022 figure marks a 28% increase over 2021. The report attributes the industry’s growth to inflation, more retailers developing curated secondhand offerings, and increased awareness of sustainable shopping habits. The report predicts the secondhand industry will practically double to $351 billion in global sales by 2027. The same data predicts secondhand goods will make up 10% of all clothing in 2024.

75% of consumers in GlobalData’s survey of about 3,000 people in the report said they are open to buying secondhand. Gen Z numbers were even higher at 83%. GlobalData provideded the data for ThredUp’s report.

Customers who say they are open to used clothing may not actually be buying it. Just 13% of survey respondents told Digital Commerce 360 that they’ve purchased a used product online. Only 8% have sold to online retailers for resale.


Value drives resale

Consumers ranked value over quality, selection, convenience, and transparency as the highest motivator to their spending, GlobalData found. 94% of respondents said they were concerned with inflation’s impact on their finances. About one-third of Gen Z consumers said they bought secondhand to afford higher-end brands that are out of budget when new. 

The pursuit of value is also driven by consumers’ willingness to embrace used clothes as a deal. Secondhand goods used to have a “stigma,” but now they carry “status,” ThredUp president Anthony Marino told retailers and investors at Shoptalk in March.

Consumers are increasingly thinking about resale potential of their purchases, too. 82% of Gen Z said they consider resale value of purchases before buying, and 42% said they are less likely to buy a clothing item with poor resale value.

Sustainability is a draw too

Customers are increasingly interested in the environmental impacts of their purchases, driving some to buy used and prioritize brands with eco-friendly policies. 43% of shoppers called sustainability a deciding factor in what they buy, according to luxury goods resale marketplace The RealReal’s 2022 Luxury Resale Report, which measured data from 28 million of its shoppers between January 2022 and June 2022 compared with the same period in 2021.


The RealReal Inc. is No. 530 in the Top 1000. It is also No. 36 in Digital Commerce 360’s Online Marketplaces Database.

61% of Gen Z and Millennials consider themselves eco-conscious or sustainability-focused, according to GlobalData, compared with 51% of consumers overall. 58% of that group say their clothing contributes to climate change, and 63% believe they can reduce their individual impact.

ThredUp releases data to reach these customers, saying that wearing used clothing instead of new reduces carbon emissions by 25%. The company also released a fashion footprint calculator using data from Green Story Inc. to allow customers to measure their wardrobes’ environmental impact and recommend changes to make.

Bloomberg News contributed to this article.


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