Secondhand fashion has never been hotter, and as with so many things these days, we have millennials to thank for that. Finding new life in used goods is one way shoppers can vote their values at the cash register.
Data from online secondhand seller ThredUP puts the value of resale fashion at $41 billion, more than double its $20 billion in 2017. The outlook from Le Prix, the online designer fashion resale company, are a bit more generous, pegging the market at $25 billion today and projected to double in a few years time.
That consumers are extending the lifetime of previously loved clothing is a positive development amid doomsday forecasts warning of civilization collapsing within decades under the weight of a lack of environmental stewardship, rampant industry pollution and an overreliance on dangerously fast fashion.
Though luxury long has traded on the values of scarcity and exclusivity, in recent years the industry has been more eager to communicate its timeless appeal in terms millennials will understand: “sustainable.” The RealReal, perhaps the most well-known online luxury consignment store, touts its sustainable model in all of its messaging. It is the antithesis of fast fashion’s relentless output of disposable duds, and it resonates with a consumer increasingly interested in heritage and history.
Nowhere is this tidal wave of interest in fashion resale more evident than in the arrival of a new B-to-B marketplace from Le Prix, which sells previously owned designer goods to shoppers on its customer-facing platform. With the launch of its business-facing platform, dubbed Wholesale Auction, Le Prix now helps the 12,000 resale boutiques across the U.S. optimize their merchandise and inventory planning. Pre-vetted, high-end secondhand stores can buy goods on the platform or use it to sell their wares to others.
Le Prix co-founder and CEO Elisa Whang said the wholesale business sprang up organically. “We found out that many of our partners were traveling outside their local area and sometimes internationally to source more inventory for their consignment store,” she explained in a news release. “So we thought, why not make this process more efficient with our platform. It’s a win-win for the entire industry.”
The platform streamlines product authentication so small boutiques can sidestep the hassle of verifying quality and origin, according to Le Prix. The company said each wholesale auction lasts for a duration of three years, and each month more than 50,000 items, with an approximate value of $50 million, are up for grabs. To increase the value of its platform, Le Prix intends to expand its network of buyers and sellers in the year ahead. Already, it claims to have assembled the world’s biggest selection of authentic designer handbags, including Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermès.