Recurring Obstacles Encountered by the Secondhand Industry
The movement towards supporting sustainably focused behaviors and brands has progressed rapidly in recent years. In an ideal world, all companies and individuals would be able to transform their production and buying practices to accommodate the environment. However, this is inevitably easier said than done as various companies, luxury fashion houses and socioeconomic levels of society attempt to participate and benefit from the secondhand industry.
In this blog post for February we're going to highlight a few of the obstacles our customers and fellow companies encounter as the focus on sustainable alternatives in fashion alongside environmental health grows stronger each day. First, we'll discuss the environmental impact the earth has faced in the past twenty years. Secondly, we'll cover the issue of demand from various sectors of society (affluent, middle class, to lower income households) and how accessibility is being impacted for those who can't afford to buy anything except secondhand goods due to the recent popularity and "trendiness" of buying secondhand. Lastly we'll discuss some possible solutions that can benefit us all!
In the last couple decades, we've seen a massive growth in the secondhand market - however the environmental damage up until this point has been extremely harmful for the earth, specifically countries that end up with the leftovers of secondhand pieces that were chosen in countries such as the U.S and China. Countries inclusive of Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam face the brunt of clothing waste from heavier populated countries where second-hand is glamorized and not the primary method of purchase. Whilst this provides countries with opportunities economically to sell and recycle salvaged pieces - it is limited. Secondhand has become overwhelmed with cheaply produced polyester pieces, fast fashion, damaged items and more - usually ending up in landfills due to their lack of wearability.
A more troubling and difficult problem to control is the demand for secondhand from those in wealthier segments of society. Middle to upper class consumers have began seeking out secondhand more than ever before due to its uniqueness, quality, and sustainable aspect - kicking fast fashion to the curb. Fast fashion simply cannot endure in the secondhand market at the current pace, and this results in an excessive amount of waste. Our industry has become much more particular about what is worth hanging onto as secondhand - limiting items to more high end brands, thus increasing economic restrictions between upper-middle and lower income consumers.
Potential and plausible solutions for the secondhand industry from a consumer perspective include altering our consumption behavior, eliminating fast fashion from our wardrobes entirely and holding onto pieces as long as we can. Our choices from the moment we decide to browse for a new dress, or a pair of shoes are impactful to ourselves, our peers, and the environment. We as consumers need to make the conscious effort to distinguish whether our desire for a new item is truly a "need". Increasing the amount of quality we have in our closets is the only practice we should be continuing when shopping instead of simply purchasing a cheap, fast fashion item just to have something "new".
Raine, J. (2022, March 31). The two major problems the secondhand industry is facing (that we have the power to solve!). My Green Closet. Retrieved February 13, 2023, from https://mygreencloset.com/secondhand-fashion-industry-1/
Khusainova, G. (2021, December 10). The secondhand market is growing rapidly, can challengers like Vinokilo thrive and scale? Forbes. Retrieved February 13, 2023, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/gulnazkhusainova/2021/01/28/the-secondhand-market-is-growing-rapidly-can-challengers-like-vinokilo-thrive-and-scale/?sh=13f5039bccb6