Wealthy teens are ruining thrifting for the rest of Gen Z
- Thrifting is thriving thanks to Gen Zers on the hunt for sustainable, Y2K clothes.
- But wealthy Gen Zers who thrift - but don't need to - are sending prices up and inventory down.
- The secondhand clothing market is set to grow as
Gen Zrevels in nostalgia.
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"I've kind of stopped buying clothes from traditional stores," Gen Zer Grace Snelling recently told Axios. "People almost respect you if what you're wearing is thrifted, and it looks good because you've managed to pull off a cool outfit, and it's sustainable."
But while the hunt for secondhand pieces is good for the climate and brick and mortar, it's not so great for lower-income shoppers. As Vox's Terry Nguyen reported back in April, wealthy young adults and teens - who are thrifting for the look, not because they have to - are dropping big bucks on thrifted clothes, sending prices up and inventory down.
Snelling told Axios she tries not to contribute to the problem by limiting her thrifting to wealthier neighborhoods.
But such overconsumption could become a persistent issue, considering that the secondhand market is only set to grow. A recent report from retail analytics firm GlobalData and the online thrift store ThredUp projected the secondhand market would reach $77 billion by 2025, up from its current level of $30 billion, as
Based on these estimations, Jefferies forecasts the secondhand clothing market will comprise a mid-teen percentage of the overall apparel market over the next decade, driven by online resale. Leading the way is Gen Z.
As Rachel Swidenbank, vice president of marketplace Depop, previously told Insider's Mary Hanbury, "This company is for the next generation."
Sustainability, social media, and nostalgia
Sustainability isn't the only factor pulling Gen Z to the secondhand market.
Recycling and reselling clothes helps the digitally native generation wear new-to-them outfits on a budget they haven't yet posted to social, avoiding repeating looks. It's also a tool to start a lucrative side hustle. Depop sellers can pull in as much as $300,000 a year and have been able to buy houses and cars before they've even reached college age, Swidenbank said.
Then there's the pandemic, which has sent Gen Z down a nostalgic path. Research has shown that, in moments of instability, people are more likely to feel nostalgia. It's why the generation has been turning towards trends reminiscent of the millennium - prep in the form of an "old money" aesthetic and Y2K fashion, best found at thrift stores.
And, as Emily Farra wrote for Vogue on the rise of
The trend goes beyond clothing. Gen Z and millennials are even increasingly eschewing mass-market home decor for vintage furniture, Insider's Avery Hartmans reported. It's for similar reasons to those fueling vintage fashion, as well as being the result of a pandemic
It seems that vintage everything is taking over - if wealthy Gen Zers don't ruin it first.
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