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Second-hand clothing market grows alongside value consumption trend

Second-hand clothing market grows alongside value consumption trend

Posted February. 23, 2024 07:47,   

Updated February. 23, 2024 07:47


Second-hand fashion is gaining popularity among younger generations. Many millennials and Generation Z individuals consider second-hand fashion 'hip' because they can find unique and vintage items.

According to the second-hand trading platform Bungaejangter, the value of second-hand fashion transactions from January to September last year was 750 billion won, up 10% year-on-year. The transaction value of the fashion category on Bungaejangter has increased by more than 100 billion won every year since 2019, and it is expected to grow to about 2.6 trillion won by 2026.

Charan, a second-hand clothing trading app launched in August last year, garnered over 80,000 users in less than six months. Users' unwanted branded clothes are collected by Charan, inspected for authenticity, photographed in a professional studio, sterilized, washed, and then delivered to the buyer. Customers are so satisfied that the repurchase rate is over 40 percent.

The rise of second-hand clothing trading is not unique to Korea. The U.S., Europe, and Japan already have large second-hand clothing markets. ThredUp, a global second-hand fashion platform, estimates that the global second-hand clothing market will grow to 218 billion dollars, or 290 trillion won, by 2026, accounting for 18 percent of the total fashion market. This means that two out of every ten clothes consumers buy are second-hand.

The rise of second-hand shopping in fashion is because, during times of high prices, it's a great way to get good quality goods for less. Aside from being a rational consumer choice, it's also a way to practice sustainability. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a British resource circulation organization, 2.6 tons of clothes are incinerated or landfilled every second around the world. Wearing second-hand clothing is a way to be more environmentally friendly, so buying second-hand clothing is a form of value consumption.

“Millennials and Generation Z, born in the most affluent era in Korea's history, are less averse to the word 'second-hand," Choi Jae-wha, CEO of Bungaejangter, wrote in an article for the DongA Business Review (DBR)." "They consider second-hand not as an unavoidable option for saving money or consuming because it’s cost-effective, but as a proactive choice that gives psychological satisfaction."

As consumers become more interested in secondhand clothing, more and more fashion companies are introducing services to repair and resell their products. In 2022, the Spanish fashion brand ZARA launched ZARA Pre-owned, a clothing repair and resale project. If you have a favorite item of clothing that you can't wear anymore because it's old or broken, you can have it repaired, resell it, or donate it.

Customers who try a brand second-hand are often more likely to buy new ones, which is why more and more brands are diving into the secondhand market to attract new customers. Luxury brands are no exception. Last year alone, more than 45 billion euros worth of pre-owned luxury goods were sold globally, according to Bain & Company. That's about 12 percent of the total luxury goods market.

Second-hand clothing trading seems to be a consumer trend that can no longer be ignored. It's a trend of interest not only to fashion companies, which have been criticized as major producers of environmental waste but also to consumers who want to buy what they value.