How the second hand is revolutionizing the clothing trade

Here, a young collector of Levi’s 501 jeans doesn’t want to miss a single vintage. There, a young mother is fond of used clothes to groom her growing offspring. Once again, the teenage girls who have stopped window shopping. Their common point? Chiller. The Lithuanian website for buying and selling used clothes, with 16.5 million unique visitors per month, has risen to the e-commerce aggregator in France. Fourth, behind Amazon, Le Bon Coin (both of which also offer second-hand goods) and a discount… before Fnac. And before SHEIN, the icon of fast fashion.

Vinted is the big name, but not the only one, in the massively accelerated second-hand clothing market. According to Fox Intelligence figures, in 2017, 2.9% of French textile purchases were second-hand. In 2021… 18.6%! Payments monitor BPCE estimates that the market grew, by volume, by 140% between 2019 and 2021. It may have reached €3 billion in France – although the numbers are not exact. Globally, according to the study by Thread up in the United States, the market weighed $96 billion in 2021 and will reach 218 billion in 2026.

Fingerprints. The reasons are manifold, between a good conscience, a need for authenticity and a limited budget. Details from Frank Rosenthal, trade expert, “The environmental argument is one of them. There is already a desire among some consumers to reduce their footprint, and to consume less. The second hand is less guilt than raiding Primark, the king of low-cost clothing. Even if the logic is really pushed to the limit: it is Admittedly, we never wear 30% of our clothes. But when they sleep, they don’t generate carbon during transportation, while it results in resale. After that, consumption is finally favored, not slowed down, second hand.”

Translation: the average basket is low – 20 euros – on Vinted … but it is repeated more and more. Vinted is also a hunt for “schizophrenics of appearance”, as Morgane Tellier’s vintage specialty auctioneer calls them, who can fulfill their quest for the infinitely perfect and rare piece.

Responsibility and authenticity are far from being the decisive arguments. The first criterion is economic. In France, 40% of clothing is actually bought for sale or promotion, according to Franck Rosenthal. In February 2022, Mediametry indicated that half of used purchases were driven by interest in the economy. This completely disturbs a sector of the physical trade in clothing, which is already experiencing discomfort, which will be more so due to the decline in purchasing power. Twenty years ago, according to the analysis of Philip Gutzman, a specialist in mass distribution, household spending was under pressure. Since we can’t stop eating, clothing has become an adaptive variable, even more so than before, with inflation. »

The second-hand market has always existed. But digital has brought liquidity, and the ability for sites to manage endless clothing references and sizes… and for buyers to find exactly what they want. Technical limitations have blown the market. It was a penniless artist thing, and it became a social norm. It has even become a structure for trade,” the expert adds.

main clients. Especially since the indirect customers of the Internet are those who make up the clothing market as a whole: women and youth. “Re-trade” is led by women, as 82% of transactions are carried out by them. Those between the ages of 25 and 44 are by far the biggest spenders at 58% of total spending. But the younger generation, worried about planet Earth, has arrived: the average basket for those under 24 is still the highest at 24 euros, compared to 21.32 euros for those 65 and over and 20.77 euros for those 45 and over. – 54 years old.

So we can no longer trade in clothes today as in the past. You have to go back and find the missing customers. “The apparel market has lost 15% of its value in ten years,” Frank Rosenthal explains. A quarter of textiles are now purchased online. A large part of the brands missed this juncture. Another second hand, not to be missed. In a segmented market like apparel, or a leader like Celio with only 6% market share, there will be deaths if brands don’t recapture the commerce. »

responses. Auchan was the first to launch a used corner in Annecy in 2009. Very early. The U system, Carrefour, started there by relying on a specialist supplier, Batatam. Galeries Lafayette, Printemps and Isabelle Marant eventually launched their own clothing management method in Second Life. La Redoute also via La Reboucle. This allows for some creativity. Camaïeu, Cyrillus and Petit Bateau have opened reselling items under their brand among individuals. “It’s based on proximity,” explains Mike Hajjaj. In the store, sellers deliver the items that buyers come to get. No postage or returns to manage. Banners do not earn a cent, but they attract qualified customers to the stores. Given the cost of gaining a client today, it’s invaluable. »

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