GenZs, millennials are turning to thrift stores to upgrade their wardrobe while saving the environment
- To buy clothes that are one of a kind, inexpensive and don’t harm the environment, young consumers are turning to
thrift storesin India.
- In the last few years, many small thrift stores have mushroomed on Instagram.
- As of August 16, there were 8 million hashtags on thrift shops, 12.6 million hashtags on thrift and over 605k posts on thrift in India alone.
- Business Insider India speaks to thrift store owners and regular shoppers to analyse its popularity in India and where the trend is expected to go from here.
AdvertisementIn an attempt to reduce fashion’s carbon footprint on Earth, young millennial and GenZ consumers are going out of their way to upcycle and resell their clothes online and increase their wardrobe’s shelf life.
In the last few years, many small thrift stores have mushroomed on Instagram. As of August 16, there were 8 million hashtags on thrift shops, 12.6 million hashtags on thrift and over 653k posts around thrift in India alone.
Sustainability is at the heart of this trend. Consumers look for pre-loved, long-lasting clothes that are one of a kind and inexpensive. The cherry on top is that these
According to market research firm Talkwalker, GenZ has mastered the art of upcycling and reselling clothes, thanks to online thrift stores and the ability to start their own shops.
A thrift store is essentially a place that sells clothing that was once worn or used by someone else, and also includes shoes, accessories, books, etc.
Another report by global thrift retailer ThredUp notes second-hand apparel is becoming a global phenomenon and is expected to grow 127% by 2026, with Asian countries witnessing a 3-fold growth.
Globally, second-hand clothes already occupy 9% of the overall fashion closets and thrifting is expected to grow to 31%, with US, Europe, Asia and Africa leading the trend.
This trend – which has also caught the attention of Bollywood stars such as Alia Bhatt, Genelia Deshmukh and Bhumi Pednekar – is reshaping the fashion industry.
A movement against fast-fashion; building affordability
Thrifting aims to challenge the growing prominence of fast-fashion, which encourages consumers to buy more frequently at low prices, a trend started by brands like H&M and Zara. Fast-fashion is also fueled by social media, which make consumers believe that they need to dress as per the latest styles.
Thrifting, on the other hand, ensures that a piece of cloth is used to its fullest as it moves across different closets, before it finally ends up in a landfill – fully utilized.
However, for Indian consumers, affordability is a big factor for shopping in thrift stores besides sustainability, Aparna Balasubramanium, founder of The Fine Finds, told Business Insider India.
“I don't think people come to thrift stores essentially because it's sustainable. While sustainability is a factor too, I do think that affordability plays a role and in some cases, how unique the items are, plays a much more significant role,” said Balasubramanium.
A recent report by Kantar India also highlighted how India is accepting a sustainable lifestyle but consumers want options that don’t burn a hole in their pockets. It said, “The cost-of-living crisis reminds us that green products need to be affordable for sustainability to become mainstream. Brands that offer sustainable options that are affordable will be favoured.”
A point that is borne out by Delhi-based Esmita Mondal, a loyal shopper of thrifted clothes, who found it easier to buy second-hand clothes and share it with her two siblings.
“The issue with buying clothes from outlets like Zara or fast fashion is that, first of all, the clothes are for a specific time period and when the trend is out, people don't like to wear it. Secondly, the cost is too much for that,” said Mondal.
“So affordability is the first thing that was there in my mind and second, sustainability, which I learned later online,” said Mondal.
What’s good for the West, is good for us too
When it comes to fashion, Indians look up to the Western world and follow in their footsteps, which has helped remove some of the stigma around second-hand clothes and boosted thrifting, believes Rachel D’cruz, an avid thrift shopper and recent owner of Let’s Thrift.
“People now have an idea that there’s nothing wrong with buying
In the US, the second-hand market is expected to more than double by 2026, reaching $82 million.
A typical thrift store collects pre-loved clothes, curates them after fixing them for its future owners – which could mean fixing any defects, dry-cleaning and sanitizing them. Items are priced as per their brand value, condition, and vintage pieces are priced the highest.
Stocking items that are inclusive in sizes, gender and prices are making thrift shops extremely attractive to the socially and environmentally conscious consumers.
The next wave of thrifting in India will be driven by brands and retailers.
Alia Bhatt’s kids clothing start-up Ed-a-Mamma, is one of the early players in the segment that encourages parents to resell after using their clothes through its online platforms. It intends to explore thrifting in a big way in the near future.
“I'm sure that the minute we open our own exclusive stores, we would also be promoting thrifting in a big way. I'm sure going forward, more and more people will start warming up to it and it will trickle down to all the major brands who believe in sustainability,” Iffat Jivan, head of business at Ed-a-Mamma told Business Insider India.
Rebranding second-hand clothes as ‘pre-loved’ and ‘thrifted’ clothes could also help in removing the stigma around these clothes among Indians, and make them fashionable and desirable, industry players say.
AdvertisementAleena Shibu, founder and owner of Thrift India, believes that awareness is growing and consumers now come to shop for party looks too.
“Recently, we have been getting a lot of requests from people who have special events and they prefer to get things from a thrift store as opposed to getting a brand new piece. So, people are more conscious than they were before but there definitely needs to be a lot more awareness regarding this,” said Shibu.
Thrifting offers a unique solution to controlling clothing waste by making closets greener and circular. However, wider adoption of thrifted clothes will depend on making them affordable, and boosting awareness and marketability of these clothing.
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