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The Growth of the Second-Hand Market Is Driven by Gen Z

As the founder of ZO communication, a Gen Z consulting agency, I stand at the crossroads of youth culture and the burgeoning secondhand market. With ThredUp's latest report projecting the resale market to balloon to $350 billion by 2027, it's evident that my generation is not just passively riding the wave of sustainable fashion but actively steering the ship towards a greener horizon. ThredUp's insights reveal a significant shift in consumer behavior, especially among Gen Z and millennials, who are set to contribute nearly two-thirds of the incremental spend in the secondhand market. Our influence is clear as 58% of us who bought secondhand apparel did so online, surpassing other demographics.

We are the digital natives, effortlessly blending our social lives, entertainment, and shopping habits into a mobile-first lifestyle. As ThredUp's president Anthony Marino points out, it's this innate digital savvy that puts Gen Z at the forefront of the secondhand market's growth. The predicted surge of online resale to $38 billion by 2027 underscores the synergy between Gen Z's tech expertise and our preference for sustainability. Brands like Patagonia and Lululemon are already favorites in the resale space, showing that high quality and environmental consciousness can go hand in hand.

ThredUp's launch of the Fashion Footprint Calculator is a strategic move for our environmentally aware group. It aims to clarify sustainable shopping, slicing through the haze of greenwashing. The calculator is more than just a tool; it's a declaration, urging Gen Z to shop in ways that reflect our eco-friendly principles.

Yet, the path to sustainable fashion isn't one we walk alone. Retailers play a crucial role. They need to shift towards models that highlight secondhand goods, possibly through rental services for in-vogue, short-lived fashion pieces. This approach matches Gen Z's craving for novelty with a low environmental impact.

In the spirit of this sustainable shift, retailers need to lean into the secondhand market more, as it's ripe with opportunity. They could, for instance, adopt clothing rental models for fashion that's only in for a short while. This would allow Gen Z to engage with the latest trends and enjoy the benefits of fast fashion, but without the environmental damage that usually comes with it.

Additionally, retailers should be helping Gen Z make sustainable choices while shopping. They could fulfill this by, say, introducing a points system on their websites. This system would reward Gen Z shoppers with points when they choose more sustainably produced items or make decisions that are better for the environment. It's a win-win: Gen Z can shop in alignment with their values, and retailers can foster loyalty among the next generation of consumers.

As a member of Gen Z, I believe we're not just the shoppers of tomorrow; we're the change-makers of today. Retailers, it's time to pay attention and take action. The potential is vast, and our duty to the planet is profound. Let's transform retail together, one sustainable choice at a time.

Picture: © Søren Jepsen / The Locals


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