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Vintage, TikTok and Inflation Drive Holiday Resale Purchases

Pre-owned items are the gift that keeps on giving this holiday season. Recent reports from secondhand marketplaces shed light on how the stigma around thrifted gifts continues to dissipate.

Online resale platform ThredUp’s “Thrift for the Holidays” report found that nearly one in two consumers are considering alternatives like secondhand gifts.

“We’ve heard that consumers are growing tired of the waste of the holiday season, and are increasingly seeking more sustainable options that align with their values,” said Erin Wallace, ThredUp’s VP of integrated marketing. “This is particularly true of GenZ. By choosing used for the holidays, consumers are cutting waste for both their wallets and the planet.”

Good deals, unique products and sustainability are part of the category’s allure, but other factors are weighing on consumers’ purchasing decisions this year. Based on a survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers conducted by retail analytics firm GlobalData, the report demonstrates how more consumers are turning to thrift as inflation and supply chain pressures weigh on shoppers in advance of Black Friday.

More than half (52 percent) of consumers said they are concerned that popular gifts will be more expensive this year and one in three consumers believe limited inventory will make it difficult to find gifts.

Shopping secondhand gives consumers a way to bypass these retail woes, according to James Reinhart, ThredUp co-founder and CEO.

“In a world where retailers have been forced to raise prices due to inflation or supply chain pressures, consumers can always find a vast and ever-fresh selection of secondhand items on ThredUp—100 percent of which are already in stock and ready to ship,” he said. “We’ve also been able to lower our average prices in order to engage as many consumers as possible and are humbled to be in a position where we can continue providing great brands at great prices during a time when many are feeling price pressure in other parts of their lives.”

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What’s selling

The trends and brands that moved fashion in 2021 closely mirror what’s driving the resale market this holiday season, according to Poshmark.

With one sale made every second in the U.S., the social marketplace has a clear view of the resale landscape. The company’s recent Holiday Merch Report reveals a glimpse into the investment pieces and novelty items inspired by TikTok and pop culture that consumers plan to gift this season.

From Gen Z’s takedown of all things “cheugy” to the popularity of thrift and estate sale hauls, the rapid pace at which TikTok-born trends thrive and die is sending consumers down the secondhand retail route. Poshmark reports that searches for “TikTok” increased 1,556 percent over the past two years, and is making “a mark on all things holiday.”

While the Kardashian-Jenner clan is better versed in Instagram, their influence on fashion is not waning. Though the family bid adieu to the E! Network series that cemented their place in reality television history this year, the family’s fashion ventures remain high on holiday wish lists. Year-over-year order volume for Kim Kardashian’s Fendi-approved Skims shapewear line climbed 65 percent, while Khloe Kardashian’s size-inclusive clothing label Good American saw even bigger numbers, with 75 percent year-over-year increases in order volume, Poshmark reported.

Kim Kardashian West's Skims brand teamed up with Fendi for a collection that will include shapewear, activewear, puffers and dresses
Skims x Fendi Steven Meisel for Fendi

Marketing efforts geared toward young consumers appear to be paying off for legacy fashion houses. Year-over-year order volume is growing for Burberry (22 percent), Prada (22 percent), YSL (36 percent), Tiffany & Co. (13 percent) and Dior (8 percent). Poshmark attributes this success to the brands’ partnerships with Gen Z celebrities like Elle Fanning for Tiffany & Co. and Yara Shadidi for Dior.

Value, however, remains a key factor in purchases. Poshmark’s internal data shows that 72 percent of consumers are increasingly considering an item’s resale value before purchasing.

The resale value for handbags is especially important as consumers gravitate toward “It” bags. Telfar’s logo-adorned tote bag is seeing a 1,107 percent spike in year-over-year order volume, while order volume for Bottega Veneta’s bag—which was named one of Lyst’s most-wanted items of 2021—has grown 29 percent.

Consumers are also increasingly gravitating toward contemporary-priced brands that share similar values, according to the report.

“Shoppers are making investments in buzzy, environmentally-driven brands, with year-over-year order volume for cult-favorite fashion labels Pangaia, Marine Serre, and Outerknown,” Poshmark stated. More affordable brands like L.A.-made Reformation and footwear brand Rothy’s are also stirring consumer interest, with double-digit volume growth.

Vintage, TikTok and Inflation Drive Holiday Resale Purchases
Pangaia Courtesy

Vintage fashion is having a moment as well, for both sustainable and aesthetic reasons. Poshmark reports that searches for “vintage” has increased 53 percent over the past two years. To date, orders for “vintage” have seen a 31 percent year-over-year sales growth in the men’s category, with nostalgic heritage brands like Converse drumming up interest all across Poshmark inventory.

The secondhand marketplace is also a hot spot for collectables. Loungefly, which creates youthful novelty backpacks, wallets and purses based on popular entertainment franchises like Marvel, Disney, Harry Potter and Looney Tunes, is in demand. The brand has garnered 99 percent year-over-year sales growth on Poshmark.

Poshmark’s children’s category section is tracking “enormous interest” in Squishmallows stuffed animals. “The squeezable, pillow-like toy has grown into an international phenomenon thanks in no small part to TikTok star Charli D’Amelio, who has been known to take to the app to post her own collection of 30 rare squishies,” Poshmark stated.

Consumers are also turning to Poshmark for Lenox, the 132-year-old homewares company. Order volume for Lenox is up 44 percent this holiday season, with its ornate ornaments of particular interest for shoppers. Year-over-year order volume for “Lenox holiday ornaments” is up 183 percent.

The cycle continues

Expect to see holiday outfits on the resale circuit in 2022. ThredUp found that one-third of consumers don’t plan on re-wearing their holiday outfits when the season is over.

Though fast-fashion and disposable fashion is counter to the cohort’s values on sustainability, ThredUp reports that more than half of Gen Z shoppers plan to buy an item to wear only three times or less for the holidays.

Meanwhile, on Poshmark year-over-year order volume for online fast-fashion online retailer Shein is up 71 percent. Purchasing the scandal-ridden brand in the resale market, as opposed to brand-new at retail, softens the product’s environmental impact overall, Poshmark noted.