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Sounding Off on ‘Disposable’ Fashion, Anna Wintour Could Fuel Resale’s Rise

Resale appears to be the new black in fashion, and as today’s conscientious consumer looks to curb consumption, à la mode upstarts in the space are blurring the lines between new and secondhand clothing.

Plus, if Anna Wintour says clothes should be cherished and then passed on—perhaps even ending up in a consignment model for someone new to love them—resale is about to be fashion’s next big thing.

The Vogue editor in chief and most influential name in the industry said in a recent interview with Reuters that fashion must move evolve from its throwaway ways.

“I think for all of us it means an attention more on craft, on creativity, and less on the idea of clothes that are instantly disposable, things that you will throw away just after one reading,” Wintour said. “[It’s all about] talking to our audiences, our readers, about keeping the clothes that you own, and valuing the clothes that you own and wearing them again and again, and maybe giving them on to your daughter, or son, whatever the case may be.”

It’s a concept that has already begun to power the quickly rising resale model, from Poshmark to ThredUp to new unicorn Vinted and TheRealReal on the more luxury end of things. According to ThredUp’s 2019 Resale Report out in March, the secondhand sector is expected to double in the next five years to reach $51 billion in 2023. And that growth will be driven largely by a rise in resale.

“Compared to the overall apparel market, resale’s growth has been phenomenal,” Neil Saunders, GlobalData managing director and lead market analyst for ThredUp’s resale report, said at the time. “As the market uniquely meets consumers’ preference for variety, value, and sustainability, we expect the high growth to continue.”

Already, as many as 64 percent of women are willing to buy secondhand products, up from 45 percent in 2016, according to the report. The increase has been helped both by a conscious shopper who’s looking to avoid contributing to the constant churn of new products, which in turn helps save garments from a landfill fate, as well as the consumer who’s now finding high-end brands available at less cost-prohibitive price points. As such, any stigma that may have once marred the thrift model that has been around for decades has started to dissipate.

Brands and retailers succeeding in the ever-pressured apparel and footwear industry are themselves embracing impact-lessening models that extend the life of used clothes, whether resale, rental or circularity, and the trend is expected to remain strong in the coming year.

“There is…increasing response to consumer demand for newer business models which tackle overconsumption, such as rental and resale,” McKinsey & Company said in its recently released State of Fashion 2020 report. “We expect this will continue, admittedly still accounting for a low share of the total market in 2020.”

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