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Digital second-hands are the new cool


Every other Wednesday, h/commerce provides in-depth analysis of the most impactful trends reshaping retail.

The consumers are more and more conscious about the impact of fast fashion on our environment. As a result, those new demands have created new buying behaviors. Second-hand vintage fashion has been a thing since some time, but the environmental crisis has made the trend become even stronger.

According to new edition of Havas Shopper Observer, already ½ of French and American consumers have bought a second-hand item in the last 6 months.

The result: digital marketplaces dedicated to second-hand fashion are surging from every corner and are becoming bigger and bigger, as the tech-savvy Instagram generation has migrated from physical thrift-shops to digital thrift platforms.

Second-hand marketplaces. Overview.

1/ Depop – a love child of eBay and Instagram

With 13 million users worldwide, Depop knows a great success notably among GenZ public, as it combines the aesthetics and functionalities of Instagram with a classical marketplace like eBay. On Depop, everything is designed to be Instagram-like: users have profile pages that work as mini digital storefronts where they post instagrammable pictures of the ‘pre-loved’ (not ‘used’) items that they are selling. Users can follow, like, comment and explore trends and hashtags. And just like on Instagram, Depop has its influencers. The biggest sellers on Depop are known to earn $100 000 annually on reselling and curating their vintage pieces, but the platform attracts ‘the classical influencers’ like Chiara Ferragni or Lottie Moss known mostly from Instagram.

Credits: DePop

2/ Vinted – Personalized Treasure Hunt

Vinted is the biggest European cross-border second-hand fashion marketplace. It is present in 11 countries across Europe and has more than 20 million users worldwide, with a big part in mature e-commerce markets like Germany and France. The platform was the very first of its kind in Europe to have opened the users’ closets.

Behind the astonishing success of the platform are the friendly UX and convenient search machine. Users can search by size, colour, brand or seller in order to find the vintage piece that they exactly want. It combines the classical thrift shop treasure hunt with a touch of personalization that helps users not to be discouraged by not finding their size of favourite colour.

Source: Vinted

3/ ThredUp – From Clicks to Bricks

The marketplace was founded by an American businessman James Reinhart. He decided to launch a second-hand marketplace when he realized he didn’t know what to do with the t-shirts he didn’t use anymore. Today, his marketplace ThredUp, has redistributed 65 million items (mostly in United States and Canada).

Already successful in the digital space, the company expands its footprint into brick-and-mortar spaces and has designed pop-ups inside 40 Macy’s locations and 30 J.C. Penney stores in United States. With the partnership, the clients will be able to search and find an unexpected second-hand gem at unbelievable prices at Macy’s. The process of picking out the items for the physical stores is based on consumer data collected online, helping to predict what will sell in certain stores.

Source: ThredUp

4/ TheRealReal and Vestiaire Collective – Reselling is glamourous.

The RealReal and Vestiaire Collective are both focused on the resale of luxury items such as handbags, shoes and jewelry among others. Vestiaire Collective is present in more than 50 countries and has more than 7 million users, but it does not stop there. The glamourous French marketplace seeks to expand in promising Asian markets. The RealReal is focusing not only on fashion but also high-end home decor.

The strong point of both is the authentication process of the items before putting them on sale. The users can be sure that they acquire the original vintage Birkin bag, which is not the case on Vinted or ThredUp.

Source: Vestiaire Collective

Fashion brands embracing the trend.

Stella McCartney and The RealReal – Make well, buy well, resell.

In 2017, the luxury brand owned by famous designer Stella McCartney was the very first luxury company to join forces with the RealReal for the campaign claiming that the future of fashion is circular. The collaboration aimed to create a positive impact and advance shared values of both companies: sustainability and promotion of the circular economy in luxury fashion. Any user who consign Stella McCartney products with The RealReal receive $100 store credit to shop at McCartney’s retail stores or the brand’s e-commerce site.

14 months after the TRR x Stella partnership got its start on October 2017, the number of The RealReal consignors of Stella McCartney items increased by 65 percent and the number of Stella McCartney items consigned increasing by 74 percent, according to data from the resale site.

Stella McCartney gave an example for other luxury brands. More recently Burberry has signed a similar partnership. Customers who consign Burberry pieces to The RealReal are now being offered with “exclusive personal shopping experience in select Burberry stores across the U.S”. The experience will include champagne and tea and a personal selection of new Burberry products to shop from, including the latest collection of more than 109 looks.

While luxury brands embrace the reselling trend because of the good quality and the high lifespan of luxury products, how it goes for fast-fashion brands?

Some of them decided to enter the vintage market as well. H&M has announced that it will launch a pilot in Sweden for online sales of vintage pieces for its & Other Stories brand. The pilot will be rollout through Swedish second-hand platform Sellpy – a start-up that H&M has been investing in, which is creating a section for & Other Stories used items on its site.

Source: Sellpy

Going against the climate change and following the fast growth of the secondhand market have motivated fashion brands to come closer to the secondhand trend. Fashion brands want to give example, become more sustainable and embrace the circular economy along with its customers.

Thriving second-hand e-commerce. Why is it important?


Because Secondhand might be larger than fast fashion within 10 years as the secondhand market is projected to grow to nearly 1,5x the size of fast fashion by 2028.

What is more:

  • 51% of consumers plan to spend more on secondhand in the next 5 years.
  • 72% of secondhand shoppers shifted spend away from traditional retailers to buy more used items.

Source: ThredUp 2019 Resale Report.

The Takeaway

Second-hand fashion is booming.

The secondhand platforms appeal to many customers as an alternative to fast fashion that combines with the social shopping feature. The other appealing aspect might be the mindset of a ‘freelance’ way of earning for a living, as the marketplaces enable them to open their very own digital front stores. The drive for sustainability has made ‘pre-loved’ fashion items ‘fashionable’ again, and the old-good thrift shops spread from physical to digital, and from digital to department stores.

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Mikaela Barbosa

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