Pandemic-fueled thrifting was just the beginning. Online secondhand retailer ThredUp estimated that, in 2020, 33 million Americans made their first secondhand apparel purchase, and that momentum is likely to continue. A recent report from the secondhand retail platform projected that, in the next five years, the fashion resale market will double to $77 billion.
Operating at the helm of the thrifting movement is none other than Gen Z, a cohort justifiably fixated on sustainable living and, in turn, responsible consumption habits. The movement has inspired social media-driven thrifting hauls, in which influencers showcase the fruits of their secondhand shopping labors and share tips for finding vintage and pre-owned gems buried in stores like Savers and Salvation Army.
Known for durability and timeless design, denim is a top commodity in the secondhand apparel category, and has become an even greater pursuit in recent months, as more relaxed fits become popular again. Secondhand shops, both in-store and online, offer access to rare and perfectly worn-in jeans that can’t be found in traditional retailers.
For new thrifters wanting to get their feet wet in the world of secondhand, Rivet compiled a list of some of the best online thrifting platforms to hunt for pre-owned denim in good conscience.
To get vintage Levi’s straight from the source, denim heads can check out Levi’s Secondhand, the label’s first venture into the thrifting space. At the close of last year, the brand launched a buy-back program allowing customers to purchase secondhand jeans and jackets on Levi.com while also giving customers the opportunity to turn in their worn jeans and jackets at Levi’s stores for a gift card towards a future purchase. The marketplace currently has more than 2,400 styles of secondhand jeans for men and women, ranging from $25-$167.
One of the largest online thrifting platforms, ThredUp offers women’s and kids’ secondhand apparel across 35,000 brands, from Gap to Gucci. It currently offers more than 50,000 denim items across shorts, skirts, pants and dresses. The platform claims to save consumers up to 90 percent off the retail price of their secondhand items. It has sold 100 million garments through its platform, offsetting an estimated 1 billion pounds of carbon emissions. In addition to its resale services, it also offers a “carbon calculator” to help consumers understand how their fashion habits are connected to climate change. On the homepage, users answer questions related to their shopping habits, laundry usage, dry cleaning services and more to determine their impact, and the site offers ways to reduce it further.
Online vintage shop Beyond Retro specializes in sportswear and denim for men and women—and it takes its job very seriously. The buying team studies what’s trending on the runway and on the streets to determine what it sources. The retailer’s “trained treasure hunters” then scour secondhand clothing stores to find vintage gems to sell on its site, and uses proprietary cloud-based technology to deliver real-time intelligence on what’s selling. The website breaks down its denim offerings by brand, style and category to make it easier to shop for vintage denim, offering brands like Levi’s, Lee and Wrangler in flare and high-waisted styles.
Founded by Simon Beckerman, the mastermind behind art and culture publication Pig Magazine and sunglasses label Retrosuperfuture, Depop was originally created to be a social network where Pig readers could buy items featured in the magazine. It quickly evolved into what it is today: A platform that shows users which fashion items friends and influencers are buying and selling. The platform’s main offerings span men’s, women’s, jewelry and beauty, but also include options for kids’, home, art and more. Its denim offering is vast, with users dedicated to the category. The platform largely attracts the Gen Z consumer, as 90 percent of its active users are under the age of 25—and its emphasis on streetwear and loungewear reflects that.
High-end denim by the likes of Louis Vuitton, Supreme and Gucci are among the gems offered by luxury consignment site The RealReal. And while resale is inherently sustainable, the platform enhanced its circularity efforts in 2021 when it launched ReCollection 02, the second stage of an upcycling initiative that promotes an “afterlife” for used garments. Denim offerings range from vintage Levi’s to Thierry Mugler’s iconic pieces. And with retail locations throughout the country, The RealReal is one of the few resellers that provide luxury-fashion consigners and buyers an omnichannel experience.