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Updated: Dec 6, 2022

Pre-loved, second hand, recycling - whatever term you prefer, it looks like boom time. That's good news for sustainability and common sense.

London department store Selfridges is betting on a boom in re-sales. It has just launched its Project Earth initiative which aims to change the way we consume within the next five years and one of the biggest focuses is reselling. In September, it plans to launch 'Resellfridges' "making it easier than ever for customers to shop pre-loved, vintage or archive clothing and accessories."

Pre-loved, second-hand, luxury resale. Whichever is your preferred term, it’s unmistakably big business and estimated to currently be worth £19.5 billion, but projected to increase five-fold in the next five years, overtaking fast fashion by 2029. With such arbiters of style as Giorgio Armani abandoning fast fashion, saying "I don't want to work like this anymore, it's immoral" and increasing awareness amongst all consumers that buying new stuff just for the sake of it isn't practical or ethical, the 'pre-loved' sector is really taking off.

Lockdown raised a lot of questions for both the fashion industry and shoppers. Such as: do we really need all this stuff? What impact is our retail habit having on the planet? And what should we actually do with anything we no longer want? Second-hand provides a solution to many of these issues, whether you're selling on what you no longer need or fulfilling a retail itch with a pre-loved purchase. 

According to McKinsey & Company, whilst the resale sector faced the same issues as the wider fashion market for the first 6-8 weeks of lockdown, it appears to be regaining buoyancy for two reasons: more people have finally got round to listing their pre-loved pieces on resale sites and we've all got more time on our hands to browse for them. Perhaps the long overdue wardrobe detox, or hunt for the Phoebe Philo era Céline Luggage bag, finally reached the top of the to-do list.

The pre-loved juggernaut, Vestiaire Collective, with 10 million users across 90 countries, was born out of the financial crisis of 2008 and so it is unsurprising it has thrived in these economically disruptive times.

The general consensus is that the industry's underlying drivers and trends - affordability, sustainability and the desire for newness - are expected to remain resilient. For consumers, the ethos of how they can play a role in sustainability, whilst satisfying their need for newness, is at the heart of what’s driving resale.



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