Can fast fashion still fuel over-consumption in the secondhand market?


Zara now dominates the online fashion resale market. Photo: AFP

Some secondhand platforms seem to be falling out of love with fast-fashion's giants, and it's now clear why...

According to a new report, fast-fashion brands are among the most popular on resale sites, with millions of items listed, fuelling a growing pattern of over-consumption.

As a sustainable alternative to buying – and therefore manufacturing – new goods, secondhand shopping has enjoyed unprecedented popularity since the beginning of the pandemic. However, this new consumer habit, favoured by younger generations, among others, has certain limits.

If the benefits of buying secondhand are well documented, the resale market could nevertheless lead to over-consumption in some cases.

Read more: 'Difficult and costly': Clothing labels struggle to achieve net-zero in fashion

Some buyers may no longer hesitate between two sizes, for example, or not worry about how often clothes might get worn, simply because of the ease with which they can now be resold.

This is reinforced by the presence of low-cost fashion brands on resale platforms, where they evidently seem to be (very) popular.

Zara is the most popular second-hand brand

According to a report by the coupon and discount site Savoo, reported by Women's Wear Daily, Zara is the most popular brand on resale sites, with no less than 670,000 listings on the most popular platforms, although the report does not take into account real-world thrift stores.

The Inditex brand seems to be a hit on a large number of secondhand platforms, starting with Depop, an application particularly popular with the Gen-Z generation, which offers no less than 439,696 of its items. But the brand's wares can also be found on eBay, Asos Marketplace and Vestiaire Collective.

However, for Black Friday this year, a day dedicated to consumption, Vestiaire Collective decided to send a clear message to the fast-fashion industry.

The high-end resale platform announced its intention to ban fast-fashion brands. A decision justified by the need to fight against the overconsumption of low-quality items that often end up in the trash without being worn –- or worn very little.

Read more: Has the fashion industry truly reduced its carbon footprint, or is it just talk?

According to the report, Zara is not the only popular brand on thrift platforms. Based on the volume of listings, Nike, Adidas, H&M, Victoria's Secret, Asos, Levi's, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel are also among the most popular brands, labels and fashion houses.

But why can secondhand clothes potentially fuel over-consumption?

The low prices and young people's need to renew their wardrobe frequently likely constitute the two main driving forces, relegating the environmental dimension to the background.

But some new habits could help people move towards greener behaviour, starting with the "30 wears" challenge, which encourages consumers to wear a garment at least 30 times before getting rid of it – a good way of checking if you really needed to buy it in the first place! – AFP Relaxnews

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