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It is no secret that fast fashion is incredibly harmful in terms of the extensive CO2 emissions and water usage that goes into the manufacturing processes. Cheaply made pieces that flood the market are essentially meant to be thrown away. This results in bleak statistics such as 12.8 million tons of clothing that end up in landfills every year in the US.
On the bright side, the recent exponential market growth of resale culture may be a feasible solution to putting a cap on fast fashion’s devastating carbon footprint. Green Story’s partners,ThredUp, released a report that takes an in-depth look into the rapid rise of resale culture. For example, if everyone buys just one used item of clothing instead of a new piece, billions of gallons of water could be saved.
Millennials and Gen Z are leading the way
Over the past three years, reselling and thrifting has grown 21 times faster than the actual retail apparel market, which means that there are more secondhand shoppers than ever before. The demographic that is leading this change are millennials and Gen Z, with a 45 percent growth in buying second-hand in the past two years. There is no longer a stigma around thrifting being only for those in a lower socioeconomic class. Rather, thrifting is embraced with open arms by all as people associate it with buying ‘vintage’, ‘authentic’, and ‘unique’ pieces.
A shift to sustainability
It is now the era of being a conscious consumer, where more and more people are becoming particular of the brands they are supporting. Secondhand shopping cuts down on fast fashion demands and decreases the amount of clothes that end up in landfills every year. In the past five years, the number of shoppers who prefer to buy from environmentally friendly brands has increased from 57 to 72 percent. Through this, retailers are realizing that resale culture is the future as the demand for ethical and sustainable options continues to grow.
The new-age closet
The closet of the future will be made up increasingly of second-hand items and items from new retail models such as subscription boxes and resale-focused websites. Statistics are now showing that one in ten women in the US are already members of ThredUp. London-based streetwear and vintage fashion marketplace, Depop’s user base has grown from 8 million to 12 million just in the past year. These figures show that resale culture is now large-scale, completely changing the culture of fashion forever.
The long term impact
Today’s textile industry is both exploitive and wasteful. It is estimated that 108 million tons of non-renewable resources are used every year to produce clothing, making the industry account for a quarter of the global carbon budget in the next 30 years. Fast fashion trends are encouraging buying twice as much clothing, but consumers are only wearing it for half as long.
Closing the loop
Hopefully, the resale culture will be a positive impact on the fashion industry by making the current linear model into a circular one. As consumers demand for more sustainable and ethical products in fashion, brands will start to shift towards being mindful of their fabrics and manufacturing processes. Through this, new clothing will start being made from renewable, safe materials and will be designed for longevity. This, in turn, ensures that these items can be resold, renewed, or made into new products.
Photos: courtesy of Vinted, ThredUp Facebook, courtesy of Green Story