A closed Payless ShoeSource store in Boston. (Taken by Alejandro Rosa)
BOSTON — The emerging fashion trend to buy second-hand clothing and accessories is driving chain retailers out of business across the country. Recently, large retail stores like Forever 21, Payless ShoeSource, and Charlotte Russe have announced that they are filing for bankruptcy and closing stores. Millennials are buying used clothes because it is cheaper, more unique, and environmentally sustainable. ThredUp reports that 40 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds shopped second-hand last year.
Celebrities are also turning to second-hand shopping. Even Kylie Jenner buys pre-owned bags; she proudly poses for Instagram pictures with her vintage Fendi bags. But celebrities are also looking to capitalize on the second-hand shopping trend. For example, the Kardashians are joining this business. They just launched Kardashian Kloset, a website where you can buy clothes and accessories owned by the Kardashian-Jenner family. This is great for fans who want to own items worn by big celebrities.
Buying second-hand items used to carry a negative stigma and was seen as something only poor people resorted to out of necessity. Today, millennials have made it something trendy and cool. Instead of using the word “used,” which has a negative connotation, retailers advertise their product as “vintage” or “pre-loved,” making it sound special. The word “vintage” makes the product seem more valuable and intriguing. People wonder, who owned this bag? Did the owner travel to Paris with this bag? Did she wear this to a meeting at The White House? A vintage item has history.
“It’s incredible to see how people react to the different words,” said Naj Nakimuli, former LXR&Co boutique manager. “My clients got offended if I told them the bag was used, but when I said it was vintage, they wanted to know more.”
According to data collected in the 2019 Resale Report by the online thrift store ThredUp, the fashion resale market is growing 21 times faster than the retail market over the past three years. The report says second-hand clothes are becoming more popular as consumers become more environmentally aware, as recycling clothes is more sustainable for the environment.
When you buy a pre-owned item, you are buying something unique. You likely will not see someone else walking around with the same item that you bought since it is not currently on the market. Also, stores that sell pre-owned items usually only have one.
Stores like The RealReal, Poshmark, LXR&Co, and now Kardashian Kloset, are growing fast, and although they started as online retailers, some have already opened physical shops. The RealReal opened a shop in Soho in New York City, surrounded by luxury stores like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Chanel. The RealReal, an authenticated luxury consignment store, sells those same brands. According to an article by PYMNTS.com, The RealReal has authorized the sale of up to $70 million in new shares, that could put its valuation at $1.06 billion. Meanwhile, Poshmark’s valuation has climbed to about $1.25 billion, according to an article by Crunchbase News. Buying pre-owned items is a cheaper alternative for those interested in buying luxury goods since the items are priced according to their condition.
The trend attracts people from different backgrounds.
“I had all types of clients who were interested in buying pre-owned items in my store,” Nakimuli said. “I had wealthy clients that bought vintage bags to add to their collection and had clients who wanted a Louis Vuitton bag but could not afford to buy a new one.”
As journalist Richard Kestenbaum wrote in a Forbes article, “Years in the future when we look back at this time in fashion industry history, people will say that now is when secondhand took off.” It is time that other companies start to move into the new trend.