The Recycled Closet: Is thrifting the new selling?

published on 26 August 2021

Macklemore made ‘thrifting’ popular in his song and started the craze of thrift store shopping. Going thrift shopping may have been considered cheap or unhygienic in some cases, but not in 2021. In the UK, where 36,000 people are employed by the thrifting industry, you could say it has taken off hugely. With over 3,000 thrift shops selling second-hand items and clothes, the ‘vintage’ style is making a comeback. 

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The idea of wearing a ‘vintage’ item has become the fashion so much so that retailer GAP have started remanufacturing one of their hoodies after they appeared frequently on resale sites. Not only has this had an impact on the way we now shop, but it has helped GAP greatly with saving the company in the USA by influencers labelling the brand ‘cool’. There is still a long way to go for GAP, but by the use of social media and thrifting, the company has been able to collaborate and secure a deal with Kanye West’s brand Yeezy.

There are a variety of places to choose from when wanting to buy or sell thrifted items. You’ve definitely heard of the majority of them too. We can’t think of ‘reselling’ and not think of eBay; one of the original reselling sites that’s out there! The website that always has an advert on TV - yep - you guessed it. Vinted. Just to list a few more there is; Depop, Preloved and Etsy.

What you might not know is that a few massive retailers such as ASOS, Selfridges and COS have all created their own type of thrifting. ASOS Marketplace allows sellers to establish their vintage, second-hand online store. Selfridges has its designer handbag resale where users can get store credit for their old, unused bags. COS Resell is where you can resell all of your old clothes from COS, as niche as that sounds, it’s also helping them become more sustainable. H&M recently started up their reselling site ‘Rewear’ and will launch only in Canada for now, but if thrifting and reselling becomes even more desirable than it already is, there’s definitely potential it’ll launch all around the globe.

The most recent retailer to include a thrifting site is Urban Outfitters. The well-known retailer sells what looks like vintage, thrifted clothing has now created Nuuly Thrift. Nuuly Thrift allows customers the opportunity to resell products from any brand and not just those from the URBN portfolio which includes Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, BHLDN and Terrain. URBN said its customers are already very active in the resale market, with three quarters having made second hand purchases and nearly half having sold second hand items in the past year. 

Urban Outfitters chief executive and chairman Richard A. Hayne said: “URBN has been in the vintage renewal business since our founding in 1970. With the launch of Nuuly Thrift, we’re excited for URBN to capitalise on shifting customer behaviour and gain market share in the rapidly expanding online resale market.”

Thrifting is not only becoming a more popular way of shopping, it’s an overlooked way of practicing sustainability. This type of shopping reduces energy consumption, air pollution, mountains of landfill, and keeps our oceans cleaner. 

It seems as if all the latest fashion is 1990’s style with wide leg and bootcut jeans making a return. Bucket hats, small over the shoulder baguette bags and matching tracksuits have all been added to high fashion websites. The question is why are we creating more garments when we could be thrifting and reselling instead. Thrifting and reselling is much more sustainable and it could be the new way of shopping? Slow fashion is here to stay!

Tell us your opinion on thrifting and if you think more retailers will set up reselling sites to take a step to being more sustainable. Let us know on Twitter @goldlistapp  

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