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The Secondhand Fashion Revolution Is Underway

If it ain’t broke, sell it.

Stephen Moore
Published in
5 min readJul 6, 2021
Photo: GettyImages

Once reserved for charity shops and flea markets, secondhand fashion has found a new lease of life. According to thredUP’s 2021 report on resale, the secondhand market is expected to double from $36 billion this year to a button-popping $77 billion by 2025. Over the past three years, reselling has grown 21 times faster than the actual retail apparel market.

While resale sites have been around since the dawn of the internet — eBay launched in 1995 — the boom really took off in 2020 when the pandemic flipped the retail world on its head and provided perfect conditions for growth. Now, the selling platforms are rushing to cash in, while brands are scrambling to get involved to appeal to changing consumer habits that look set to stay long after the pandemic is over.

Reselling goes public

Over the last couple of years, there have been several signs in the markets indicating the rise in resale and increasing investor appetite. In late 2020, popular consumer reseller marketplace StockX raised $275 million at a valuation of approximately $2.8 billion, fueling speculation that it will file for an IPO later this year. On January 14th, 2021, online clothing reseller Poshmark debuted its IPO, which closed up more than 140% on the first day of trading, valuing the company at more than $3 billion. The company claims to have 6.2 million active buyers and 31.7 million active users. ThredUP launched its IPO in March 2021, raising $168 million at a $1.3 billion valuation, with shares gaining 42% on the first day of trading.

Most recently, on June 2nd, Etsy announced its biggest acquisition to date, scooping up peer-to-peer social shopping app Depop for $1.625 billion in a surprising deal. For those unfamiliar, Depop is a resale app — intentionally positioned towards the Gen-Z market — with 30 million users. The site has more than 2 million sellers, who are more akin to influencers, modeling their own items and using social accounts on TikTok and Instagram to increase their audience. Although the acquisition was a surprise, the purchase is a smart one, giving Etsy a front-row seat to the resale market and keeping them engaged with the younger demographic driving…