The second-hand trend’s occurrence with trading vintage fashion began centuries ago in the 14th century, somewhere between the Middle Age and the renaissance in several European cities.
The reason primarily that should be credited for this trend to begin was the ridiculously high pricing, as each piece of clothing was tailor-made at the time, and purchasing new clothes was far from an imaginable luxury for most people.
The resale industry has changed ever since, from something that was out of helplessness and not being able to afford clothes to something now considered cool and unique, second hand market has seen a trickle-up effect over the many decades/centuries giving birth to ‘thrifting’ – today’s sustainable and ethical way to shop.
As of June 2020, the second-hand market for clothing alone is valued at $28 billion and is expected to reach $64 billion within the next 5 years.
James Reinhart, Co-founder and CEO of Thred-up- an online reselling platform mentions “ younger people are getting smarter than ever about how wasteful it is to shop fast fashion”.
The new Gen-Z are consumers who are seeking newness and value consciousness by having a growing interest in sustainability.
Thrifting means different things to different people. Some buy second-hand clothing because it tells them a story, holding a certain value that adds character to the piece of clothing while too many, it is seen as an opportunity to go against the artificially of modern consumerism and fast fashion. In either of the two scenarios that might be, what holds the most value is the feeling of exclusivity when wearing a rare, one-of-a-kind piece.
Over the past 2 years, when the entire world had been facing the COVID-19 crisis with many major industries suffering losses, the thrifting industry soared.
In a fast-paced country like UAE, where things change quicker than the season, Fast-fashion is the means to buy for the majority of the country’s population. Sustainability as a concept in fashion was unheard of. Thrifting has been around in the West for quite a bit in the form of physical charity shops, consignment stores, Vintage stores, and largely ‘Depop’- e-commerce for thrifting in recent years. However, this is a relatively new concept for the UAE as well as the rest of the MENA region, where second-hand items could only be purchased during flea market pop-ups, which was a rare occasion anytime before 2020.
Once Covid hit and the lockdown(s) began, we started seeing 18-24-year-olds starting their thrift stores on Instagram. For some, it began as a side hustle while still in school/university, to gain a sense of financial independence for others. But above all, the aim was the same- catering to the shopping needs of a consumer leaning towards making environmentally right consumption choices, the kind of customers aware of the humanitarian costs of fresh fast fashion.
Like the UK, Europe and US have Depop; in the later months of 2020, Alyssa Mariano co-founded and launched ‘Bazzara,’ UAE’s first online marketplace for buying and selling second-hand items. In its initial 6 months of operating, the App had over 5000 consumers and more than 10,000 listings. With its gaining popularity, Bazaara is hopeful about exploring and expanding its operations in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the rest of MENA as potential target markets.
What started as a means for the youth to stay in line with the current fashion trends at an economical price, turned into a means of lifestyle.
Thrifting is here to dominate the fashion landscape in the future, and like in the past, as witnessed, the trend this time around is irreversible. It is one foot forward into the world of ‘Sustainable-Retail.’
What will set back the trend, unfortunately, is our hunger as humans leading to overconsumption with second-hand shopping, which in turn will accelerate reselling at marked-up prices, throwing us back into an “urban sprawl of thrifting.”