Why Secondhand Clothes Are Creating a Buzz in the U.S.?

Shopping for secondhand clothing used to come with a nasty stigma. Now, thanks to great marketing efforts spreading the positive environmental and sustainability impact that secondhand clothing has, that’s all changed. What was once avoided at all costs unless you had absolutely no other option is now what many U.S. consumers are doing regularly: shopping for secondhand clothing. This fact hasn’t gone unnoticed, and it’s giant spike in popularity isn’t just suspected, it’s proven.

The Numbers

ThredUp, an online secondhand clothing selling giant, conducts annual reports to look into market trends. Over the last three years, the secondhand clothing industry has grown 21 times faster than brand-new retail sales. Additionally, the U.S. market is currently worth about $24 billion.

According to thredUp’s Neil Saunders, GlobalData Managing Director & Lead Market Analyst, “Compared to the overall apparel market, resale’s growth has been phenomenal. As the market uniquely meets consumers’ preference for variety, value, and sustainability, we expect the high growth to continue.”

The company’s research found that the uptick in secondhand buyers is consistent across all types of clothing, including luxury, mid-market and discount items. Specifically, 26% of shoppers purchase secondhand luxury items, 25% purchase secondhand mid-market items and 22% purchase secondhand discount items.

Moreover, thredUp’s research revealed that the popularity of secondhand shopping is resonating across multiple generations, with millennials and Gen Zers embracing this market the most. Baby boomers and Gen Xers aren’t far behind though.

For a trend that’s seen double-digit growth in such a short amount of time, and crosses multiple generation, secondhand clothing is truly taking the market by storm.

How did the secondhand clothing market grow so quickly?

As with many different niche markets, the secondhand clothing industry can partly attribute its growth to ever-developing technology. New online marketplaces have made it possible for people to easily buy and sell pre-owned goods. ThredUp is obviously one of the major game players, but other popular resale sites include Poshmark, eBay and Etsy. ThredUp has done a particularly good job tapping into social media sites and using social media influencers to spread the site’s message and get its name out there. As more and more people see celebrities promoting secondhand shopping, the negative stigma surrounding secondhand clothing lessens.

One thing that these influencers promote when talking about secondhand clothing on their pages is the environmental factor of purchasing pre-owned clothes over brand-new clothes. ThredUP found that nearly 3 in 4 consumers are more likely to buy from environmentally friendly shops over non-environmentally friendly shops. This change in attitude is represented in mainstream culture, and while it isn’t isolated to the clothing market, it’s becoming a huge selling point for the secondhand clothing market.


The secondhand clothing market is predicted to continue to grow at a fast pace for years to come. With its sustainability factor, technological advances and social media marketing, you can expect that this trend is here to stay for the foreseeable future. While this might spell trouble for traditional retailers, consumers and the Earth can rejoice in the fact that it’s now cool to save money on your clothes by buying gently used items through popular resale sites.