I may look like a typical Millennial New Yorker and (soon to be) mom of two, but I have a secret. I have a love, nay, obsession, with the British Royal family. So naturally, I was ecstatic when I heard that Princess Beatrice recently had a secret wedding and immediately searched for pictures of her dress. What would this custom designer gown look like? The alternative that hadn’t entered my mind was that she would wear a vintage dress that belonged to her grandmother, Queen Elizabeth. The princess inadvertently played on a huge trend in the U.S. fashion market: resale.
Pre-pandemic, the concept of resale was all anyone could talk about in the fashion industry. It was a growing model expected to reach $64B by 20241. It makes perfect sense, the feeling of getting a pair of Gucci mules at half the cost is a thrill that cannot be easily replicated. That’s what makes resale attractive to so many different consumers, demographics, and even income levels. Pre-COVID, the top two incomes that planned on purchasing from resale sites were the lowest (<$25K) and the highest (>$150) with a range of responses in between. 2
The rise in resale can also be attributed to driving the way we purchase non-resale apparel, particularly among younger consumers. Four of every ten Gen Z and Millennial consumers have claimed to shop consignment sites. 3 This behavior may be leading to greater investment in wardrobes among younger consumers, with the rationalization that they could eventually sell the items on resale sites.
The COVID-19 pandemic has rattled retail like never before. Even as sanitization has taken center stage with everything that comes into our homes, the interest in resale has not waned. In May, 71% of resale shoppers had little, if any, concern with buying fashion on resale sites. 4 I witnessed this personally while selling a few of my own pre-worn fashion items on Poshmark during the height of the pandemic. And, with over a quarter of adults saying they organized their closets during the quarantine5, resale junkies basked in the influx of new items that came their way.
Princess Beatrice is on trend with her generation – easy to do when your grandmother has a closet full of designer, even historical, pieces. As states come in and out of quarantine restrictions, it will be an unpredictable second half of 2020, and online will likely continue to be a major source for fashion (a good omen for online consignment sites). But, finding fashion gems in other people’s closets remains a sovereign attraction for many apparel consumers and major retailers have taken notice, making resale something to continue to watch.
1Thredup resale report
2The NPD Group / NPD
Trend Tracker survey done in conjunction with NPD partner CivicScience October 2019
3The NPD Group / 2019 Future of Apparel Report
4 The NPD Group / NPD
Trend Tracker survey done in conjunction with NPD partner CivicScience May 2020
5 The NPD Group / NPD
Trend Tracker survey done in conjunction with NPD partner CivicScience March 2020