Millennials and Gen Z Causing Surge in Used Clothing Demand

A new study has some great news about clothing use: people want to reuse more, a lot more. The study, produced by the online used clothing retailer, thredUP, shows that purchases of used clothing are on the rise, particularly among younger shoppers.

Part of the increase and projected increase is in the resale sector. ThredUP, whose business is clothing resale, defines it as, "a sector of the broader "˜secondhand' market that includes more curated product assortments, often well merchandised and/or higher end.... These secondhand options are primarily, but not exclusively, online."

From 2017 to 2019, millennial and Gen Z secondhand sales increased by 37 percent and 46 percent, respectively. In total, the secondhand clothing market is expected to double in the next five years, and, while being driven by the younger generations, growth is happening in all age groups.

Why the Increase?

There are two main factors leading to the increase in clothing resale and reuse. First, demand for sustainability and ethical fashion is on the rise, and reuse is an obvious way to save resources. Secondly, consumers want to be able to constantly change their wardrobe, a trend that has been fueled by social media and a desire to always be seen in something different.

To satisfy these consumer desires, high-quality and sustainable clothing has to be offered at a reasonable price. Resale and reuse does just that. And, thanks to online technology, it's easier than ever to buy and sell clothing without leaving the comfort of your home.

Closing the Loop

The reuse of clothing is definitely a big step towards the much heralded circular economy, a fact thoroughly explored by the thredUP report.

"By helping to increase the use of clothing, resale can play a key role in making fashion circular. Raising the average number of times clothing is worn is the most direct way to design out waste and pollution and capture value."

- Francois Souchet, Lead, Make Fashion Circular, The Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Planet Aid greatly welcomes the study's finding that reuse and resale of clothing is catching on. While this is a positive development, a tremendous quantity of clothing is still being wasted in the United States. The rise of the reuse and resale trend will help to save more resources from needless disposal.

Planet Aid is helping to close the clothing circle by collecting used textiles for reuse and resale. While a portion of the clothing we collect is reused domestically, much of it enters the international market and is purchsed by traders in developing nations. Secondhand clothing in these countries is a major commodity and an integral part of their economies.

Join us in doing good for the environment and for people by donating your unwanted clothing or shoes today. Just look for the big yellow bin.

Statistics and graphic images were provided by thredUP and were used with permission.


1. GlobalData Market Sizing: GlobalData's assessment of the secondhand market is determined through ongoing retailer tracking, official public data, data sharing, store observation, consumers surveys, and secondary sources. These inputs are used by analysts to model and calculate market sizes, channel sizes, and market shares.