Jan 24, 2020
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Millennials and Gen Z turning to secondhand fashion says Mintel

Jan 24, 2020

Opinions towards secondhand clothing are shifting and a new UK study on Friday claimed that more than half of the consumers in the key 25-34 age group are buying secondhand fashion these days.

More and more young Britons are buying secondhand fashion

As well as that, 50% of them have repaired damaged or worn-out clothes and further down the age scale, 75% of 16-24 year-old Britons say they have swapped fashion items with others or would be interested in doing so in the future.

There’s a clear trend being seen towards secondhand fashion, whether that’s for ethical or purely money-saving reasons, but when trying to apply ethical principles to their general fashion purchases, a massive number of UK consumers say they find it difficult to know which fashion retailers are ‘ethical’.

That’s all according to the researchers at Mintel, who spoke to over 1,800 fashion shoppers of all ages and said that “savvy young Britons are buying, selling, mending, swapping and renting their clothes”.

It sees ‘thrifting’ as “the way forward, particularly among young British fashion shoppers. Some 52% of the Millennial group aged 25 to 34 bought secondhand clothes in the last year, which is significantly higher than the 43% who did so when all age groups are taken into account.

Additionally, 50% of the same age group are turning their fashion into cash and selling unwanted clothes. The number doing this for the wider age range is still only 35%.

Buying and selling secondhand clothing is becoming easier and also more fashionable. Consumers no longer have to go to thrift stores but can buy on eBay or via higher-end resale sites such as Vestiaire Collective. Charities are also increasingly offering upscale items in their own online stores and the fashion sector as a whole is starting to embrace resale and fashion rental too.


Mintel also said that ‘swishing’, the act of swapping clothes with friends or acquaintances, is also becoming on-trend, particularly among young people. As mentioned, 75% of 16-24 year-olds have either swapped fashion pieces or would like to. It’s a huge figure given that the number for the wider age group is 51%.

These Gen Z consumers also seem to be the most interested in fashion rental with 57% having rented or being interested in doing so, compared to 33% of all Britons.

Some 57% of Britons generally also agree that buying too many fashion items is bad for the environment, which could be bad news for fast fashion retailers that need to sell more and more every year. The same number are trying to shop more ethically and Gen Z is leading the way here with 68% attempting to do so.

As many as 30% of consumers would go so far as to choose a retailer based on whether or not they sold sustainable fashion ranges. But as many as 79% of consumers generally find it difficult to know which fashion retailers are ethical. Price isn’t perceived as an indicator of sustainability, with only 22% agreeing that the more you pay for fashion, the more likely it is to be ethical. But 59% of consumers claim they’d be prepared to pay more for sustainable fashion. And they want transparency with 67% of people agreeing that fashion retailers should let customers know when items are not made sustainably.

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