The Rise of Used Clothing Purchasing

The Rise of Used Clothing Purchasing

There is no doubt that the pandemic changed shopping habits – both what we buy as well as how we buy. Work clothes such as suits and ties are trending down, and more relaxed and casual clothes are trending up. But that’s only part of the story. Sustainability in clothing is also on an upward trend.

To learn more about this, a survey by Adweek-Morning Consult surveyed 2,200 U.S. adults about where they buy clothing, and how they dispose of clothing they no longer want. Among the survey results findings was that 70% of Americans think sustainability is at least somewhat important when deciding how to get rid of unneeded clothing. And, 65% said that sustainability is at least somewhat important when selecting clothing to wear.

Other findings:

  •     79% have purchased used clothing at some point.
  •     20% buy used clothing most or all of the time.
  •     30% of Millennials buy used clothing most or all of the time.
  •     18% of Gen Z buy used clothing at least most of the time.
  •     72% of Gen Z and 74% of Millennials said sustainability was at least somewhat important.
  •     79% said they considered donating clothing as a sustainable option.
  •     59% felt selling clothing was sustainable.

While the numbers are promising, the proof is in the implementation for clothing companies. A recent agreement between Madewell and clothing resale platform thredUP aims to capitalize on this. Madewell (owned by J. Crew) will have a dedicated microsite the its website and will offer a curated selection of used (or ‘preloved’) Madewell jeans.

Old jeans can be brought to Madewell stores, which then assesses the condition of the clothes. If the clothing can live on, it is sold to someone. If the jeans are a little too worn to be sold, they are recycled into housing insulation through Blue Jeans Go Green. The lower price of Madewell jeans on the resales website also opens up sales to a market that is unable or unwilling to pay the high price of new jeans.

Consider price, style, etc… and answer the following questions in a short reflection:

  1. What is the value proposition offered by Madewell and thredUp?
  2. Now that you have viewed their resale websites, have your attitudes about buying and clothing changed?
  3. Do you think this business model has the potential to be expanded globally?
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