Retail Disruptors: Women Are Changing How they Shop


The fashion industry is nothing if not an epicenter for trends. We’ve all heard of the huge shifts at both extremes: fast fashion and sustainability.

We all want sexy or sporty new pieces in our wardrobe. And most of us want those pieces to be ethically and sustainably made.

But there is another trend that intersects both of these ideas: thrifting.

Thrift shopping is on the rise. And not just a slight increase. According to threadUp’s 6th Annual Resale Report recently published, 40% of closets will be made up of clothes purchased used by 2022. And this segment is growing faster than any other, a whopping 49% annually.

threadUp is one of the largest clothing resale destinations. But it isn’t the only one. The RealReal and Poshmark have also recently raised over $150 million in funding and are exploding with both customer and usage growth.

Why is thrifting gaining such popularity? Two main reasons that aren’t exactly exclusive from one another: millennials and sustainability.

Forty percent of 18-24 year olds thrifted last year. This is also the group most likely to be attracted to an individual brand because it was environmentally ethical.

Thrifting, for obvious reasons, is seen as a sustainable approach to shopping and fashion. After all, “reuse” was the second “R” we were taught in school on Earth Day.

So, what does this mean for designers and fashion brands?

Simply put, it means that design teams have to think about the intrinsic value of each piece of clothing they make even more than ever. It’s not just about how much they can sell their items for at launch. Resale value is becoming just as important.

While brands themselves won’t reap the direct monetary rewards from this resale market boom, they can in the branding department.

Think of it this way. If 40% of your closet is full of resale clothing, and one particular brand holds up better than the rest, wouldn’t you be more likely to spend money on that brand for the other 60% of your closet?

In previous posts, we’ve covered the change in retailer’s sales methods. We’ve talked about efforts at retailers like Nordstrom’s to entice greater audiences, such as “shop here, buy online” boutiques. We’ve discussed pop-up stores and custom-fit online retailers. But this resale boom is also pointing out another change in the marketplace.

Customers are buying directly from the companies that made the clothes. They are essentially cutting out the middleman of retailers. People are much more comfortable buying directly off a brand’s site these days. If you’re reading this, you are already on such a site. So, we know this fits you already.

Amazon is itself a retailer and middleman. But it lets customers use its platform to directly buy from the company that designed and produced their products.

Again, according to threadUp’s recent report, “retail disruptors” (i.e. companies like threadUp, Amazon and direct-to-consumer sites like ours) will own nearly 1/3 of all closet space within the next decade. That kind of growth and market opportunity blows the recent trends of fast fashion shopping out of the water.

All of this leads to the conclusion that clothes need not be whimsical, spur-of-the-moment purchases. If done with the longevity and quality of the clothes themselves in mind, you can have your cake and eat it too.

Or, put another way, value your shopping choices as investments… rather than impulse purchases.


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