Apps give young shoppers a new style twist
It’s exciting to buy something new to wear – but does it need to be remade to feel special? And do you have to own it?
For many younger shoppers, raised in the sharing economy where ownership is less important than it was for their parents, buying a pair of second-hand jeans or renting a designer dress is not uncommon.
“What we’re seeing with young consumers is that ‘new’ doesn’t have to mean ‘new off the shelf’ — it just means new to the consumer,” says Georgie Hyatt, co-founder and CEO of Rotaro, a fashion rental website.
As a result, a steep rise in rentals and resales is underway, driven primarily by young people under the age of 26 – Gen Z.
In the second-hand apparel market, a recent report by resale platform ThredUp predicts the US sector will reach $77 billion by 2025 — more than double what it was in 2021. As for the rental market, the Global market will reach $7 billion in revenue by 2020, according to research by data provider Statista.
But there’s a divide at the heart of Gen Z behavior. On one side are the trend-seeking hyperconsumers who are fueling the success of fast-fashion giants like Shein and Boohoo. On the other hand, there are eco-conscious shoppers who prioritize their sustainable values. Or as the trend researcher WGSN puts it: “Gen Me” and “Gen We”.
What unites them is a desire for the new and affordable, says Hyatt. At Rotaro, which was founded to help luxury brands move into the circular economy and where the average age of customers is 26, she caters to two main types: the “playful discerning ones” whose priority is access to top brands at a good price is; and the “conscious consumer” for whom renting is consistent with their sustainable values.
Both efforts fit the circular economy model of reusing and extending the lifespan of manufactured products.
“‘Circular models’ such as rental, resale, recycling and take-back systems are a solution to Gen Z’s growing appetite for novelty and their concern for the planet,” says Hyatt.
Apps like Depop, Vestiaire Collective, Poshmark, and Vinted, where users can buy and sell second-hand clothes, are resonating with tech-savvy younger consumers. Even big retailers like Asos, H&M and Levi’s have tapped into the resale market.
Asos launched its own second-hand marketplace in 2010 to allow individuals and small boutiques to sell used clothing.
Sandra Kampmann, the group’s head of insights and analytics, says her research shows that while a large number of consumers aren’t interested in resale and reuse, there’s “a large proportion” that are.
What motivates this chunk that likes to be resold and reused?
“It’s often about cost savings, often about sustainability,” explains Kampmann. “And then it’s more emotional things — liking the treasure hunt and finding something that’s not easy to replace, that’s pretty unique.”
The search for unique items draws many GenZers to resale platform Depop, but it’s more than a place to buy and sell, says CEO Maria Raga. It’s a “community of like-minded creatives, young entrepreneurs and sustainability enthusiasts,” she says. “Often people come to find the latest trends, which appear on Depop two weeks to two months ahead of the mainstream fashion industry.”
‘Bolero made from used sheepskin will warm you up and keep the planet cool’
Caitlyn Leckey, above, narrates Ryan Hogg how she started curating and selling clothes with her company Second.Soul
Why did you start buying and selling second hand clothes?
I sold a small batch to friends and had a great response, so during the first lockdown I finally had the time to really think about how I could take it more seriously.
Why do you like to buy second hand?
Second hand shopping helps you understand your own style and is so much more rewarding than going down the high street and buying the same thing as 10 other people around you.
Why is it important for the used market to grow?
When you buy and sell this way, you know it’s ultimately good for the planet.
Could you make a living from buying and selling second hand?
Absolutely – I made up to £500 in a month earlier, but growing awareness of the harms of clothing production means demand is only going to increase.
What was the best article you found?
A cropped jacket in a vintage shearling bolero style with great sleeves and a fur-trimmed hood. It was unique and of amazing quality. I sold it and will always miss it.
In a survey of Gen Z users of Depop conducted with Bain, the consulting firm, 75 percent said they buy second-hand to reduce consumption, while 65 percent said they were attracted by affordability became.
Depop does not exclude the resale of fast fashion items in the app, because once a garment has been made, the goal is to extend its lifespan and keep it from landfill or illegal disposal. However, it excludes the sale of new items shipped to order from factories or catalogs.
According to Raga, the platform, which was bought by handmade goods marketplace Etsy last year, is committed to “circular” and responsibly made lines in its brand partnerships. These include recent collaborations with Adidas and Ganni, where Depop designers and sellers work with brands to re-imagine, restyle and resell classic pieces such as: B. Adjusting Ganni’s oversized collar.
“We are also examining how we . . . actively engage with the many Depop vendors who upcycle and recreate from existing materials,” she adds.
In the rental market, some platforms like Hurr and By Rotation offer peer-to-peer fashion rentals, while Rotaro works directly with luxury brands to allow UK customers to rent a designer outfit for up to 12 days.
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Hyatt acknowledges the criticism of the fashion rental’s carbon footprint. To counteract this, Rotaro uses climate-neutral delivery services, environmentally friendly cleaning technologies such as wet washing instead of dry cleaning and reusable garment bags.
She believes in the value of Rotaro as a sustainable way for consumers to engage with fashion and trends: “Our store helps brands make the most of their garments at the end of their season rather than burning or discounting the clothes.” Rental is viewed positively by customers because it shows a brand’s commitment to sustainability.
“We are in a climate crisis. People can no longer consume fashion the way they do.”
Getting started at Depop: “The quality of older clothes is better”
Amy Birdsall, above, is a designer and maintainer in the UK sold as amysstuffff on Depop and also on Instagram. Most of the clothes she wears are vintage or second-hand.
I’ve always been interested in vintage, so I’ve had a lot of things I wanted to sell. During lockdown I started putting things on Depop and they asked if I would be interested in doing a workshop where they gave me mentoring and insights into trends and goals to be achieved.
It was useful, but it exerted a lot of pressure; It was harder to source stuff in lockdown but you still had goals. Depop takes 10 percent of the value of what you sell and wants people to take it seriously. I set up an Instagram page and met some other sellers there as well. They all do pop ups and I did a giveaway with some girls there to get more followers.
At times I’ve made £1,000 a month on Depop, but there are definitely people who could make that in a week. There’s so much work behind it that people don’t see: sourcing, taking pictures, people asking questions – and then they don’t buy.
I’m a bit of a hoarder so I have things from when I was 15 that are coming back in style – brands like Morgan, Jane Norman. I prefer to select pieces from charity shops and buy online on eBay, but I’ve also started buying second-hand clothes wholesale. I have a really good bag from a charity shop and some Morgan jeans I bought from a lady in Leeds – low rise with tribal embroidery across the bum. I bought a Dior pendant necklace at Leeds market – I paid £10 and it turned out to be genuine.
Sustainability, quality and price appeal to me about second-hand clothing and it is more authentic. I feel the quality of older clothes is better.
For me it’s about finding something that I really like knowing that not many people will have it. You get a thrill when you find something good in a bunch of crap. I can’t walk past a charity shop without going in and browsing the bargain baskets.