Secondhand Clothing Is a Hot Market, According to thredUP's Latest Report

People like buying used clothes, for financial and environmental reasons.

thredUP distribution center


Online thrift store thredUP has released its tenth annual Resale Report. The study, which assesses trends in the secondhand clothing industry, has a distinctly positive tone. Resale is booming in the United States, as well as globally, and the domestic secondhand market is expected to more than double by 2026, reaching an impressive valuation of $82 billion. 

This is serious growth that indicates a real shift in the way people approach shopping for clothes. For most, it's a way to save money in an inflationary economy. Forty-four percent of shoppers say they're cutting back on buying apparel—more than any category apart from restaurants. Some say secondhand is enabling them to keep enjoying the brands they love.

thrifting across the nation


When choosing what to buy, people are increasingly savvy about what can be resold. More than one-fifth of Gen Z shoppers said they'll pay more for an item that they know they can resell, and 36% of Gen Z shoppers stock and purge their closets at the same monthly or weekly rate. More than half resold apparel last year.

This is a much healthier attitude than hoarding out-of-style or ill-fitting items in a closet, just because you paid good money for them or liked them once upon a time. As resale becomes more accessible thanks to mobile technology and online platforms, increasing numbers of customers are keen to turn over their closets. This fuels the industry and keeps the market full of fresh finds, bringing people back for more.

thredUP clean out bag


Secondhand helps to assuage people's climate-related concerns. Thrifting is far better for the environment than buying new. As thredUP reported in 2021, buying used reduces an item's carbon footprint by 82%. Choosing used over new displaces 17.4 pounds of CO2 emissions. It requires far less water and energy to produce, and it spares that item from going to landfill, where it will break down and emit methane, a greenhouse gas more powerful than CO2. The 2022 report estimates that secondhand purchases made last year displaced nearly a billion items that otherwise would've been purchased new.

Aja Barber, author of "Consumed: The Need for Collective Change," is quoted in the report: 

"At the rate in which the fashion industry is producing clothing, it is crucial that resale becomes a key part of citizens' lifestyles. The choice to embrace reuse is not always easy when we are faced with endless options—many of which encourage the purchasing of cheap, disposable fashion—but the rise of online resale is enabling citizens to make different choices and do so with pride and joy."

It is interesting to see how rapidly resale is being accepted and embraced by conventional fashion retailers. The number of brands with "preloved" shops has increased by an amazing 275% since 2020. These companies are responding to consumer demand, wanting to appear more sustainable. They end up discovering that it has a real and positive impact on revenue, with 88% of retail executives saying it's helping to drive sales.

new purchases from thredUP


It's great to hear such positive news. Thrifting is a no-brainer, when you stop to think about it—well-made and good-looking fashion that helps the planet while saving us money. The more mainstream it can get, the better off we'll all be.

Read the full report here.

View Article Sources
  1. "2021 Resale Report." Thred Up.

  2. "2022 Resale Report." thredUP.