A deeper look into the secondhand market.

The secondhand market is growing fast. According to a 2019 report from ThredUp, the resale market has grown 21 times faster than the retail apparel market over the past three years, and the secondhand market is expected to reach $51 billion by 2023.

It’s become so popular that it now has its own modern name: Recommerce.

And recommerce has fast fashion retailers worried. Numerous start-ups – such as Canada’s own Dresst, which focuses on high-end clothing rentals – have entered the game. Even existing retailers are getting in on the second-hand market. One example: Urban Outfitters, who launched Nuuly earlier in 2019.

The recommerce market appeared to go mainstream last holiday season. In an Accenture survey conducted last year, 48% of respondents said they would consider giving secondhand clothing as gifts, and 56% said they’d welcome these type of gifts for themselves. This trend is most popular among youth, with 61% of Gen Z and 43% of Millennials being the most likely to give secondhand gifts (as per a recent Deloitte survey). Reasons for opting for used gifts include saving money, sustainability, and buying secondhand in order to afford luxury items. (The luxury sector is considered a great fit for the secondhand market, since these goods are often prized for durability and considered ‘investment pieces’.)

But there’s one corner of the retail sector that seems resistant to recommerce – and that’s menswear. Aside from tuxedo rental, there is a dearth of companies renting men’s clothing.

In a recent article, the New York Times interviewed several men about their resistance to clothing rental; reasons given included:

  • Resisting trends and developing their own style,
  • Pride in ownership,
  • A ‘long term’ approach when making purchases, and
  • The fact that men aren’t as pressured as women to have extensive wardrobes.

Companies like Rent the Runway have been considering the men’s market, but are taking their time to determine the best way to introduce menswear into the clothing rental market. It will be interesting to see how any roll-out unfolds.

In the meantime: happy shopping.

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