It’s no news that women (generally speaking) love fashion. Since the beginning of time women have made it a hobby, a way to connect, earn a living, and claim ownership of something in a world that hasn’t always been perfect for us. Over the years, decades, and centuries, fashion has changed and with it, so has its meaning towards the female population. Feeling more empowered than ever, it’s no surprise that as of recent women have been progressively taking back space in the workforce, economy, media, and world in general.
This month, we unpack how fashion has played a crucial role in empowering women in ways that we may not have seen in the past. Specifically speaking, the luxury resale market has done a lot to contribute to this empowerment, with no plans of slowing down any time soon. There is no doubt that the female population has been the driving force behind the mega success of the growing luxury resale market; not just as shoppers, but as contributors, community builders, innovators, and leaders.
The Power of “Buying Power”
Okay ladies, now let’s get information (and crunch the numbers)! 56 million women bought second-hand fashion items in the year 2018, that’s an increase of 44 million from the year before! Also as of 2018, research shows 64% of women bought or are now willing to buy second-hand products .
Why are these numbers important you may ask? Because it just goes to show how much power women have in the “buying power” of the resale fashion market. So what? Well, having larger buying power in the resale market is actually more powerful than having buying power in the traditional retail market. This is due to the fact that the resale market grew 21 times faster than the apparel retail market over the past three years. Research studies report that increased growth can be credited to millennials and gen-Z women, who adopt second-items 2.5 times faster than the average consumer . Women—young women in particular—are single-handedly reshaping the way we purchase and consumer fashion. They’re disrupting the traditional retail landscape and fashion companies are scrambling to try and keep up.
So why are young women reconstructing the way the world consumes fashion? Multiple studies have found that 75% of these younger shoppers are more likely to be motivated by environmental and sustainability issues when shopping resale; 2.4 times more likely than any other consumer .
But what about baby boomer women? Studies have shown that they too love the second-hand market, but for different reasons. Women over 65 are 3.4 times more likely to be motivated by value and savings when shopping the resale market . Both of these motivators are positive and perfectly legitimate reasons to indulge in a second-hand designer find.
So let’s give credit where credit is due. Women have always been smart, savvy shoppers, but now we just do it in a different way. For example, the ideal luxury resale consumer starts off as a first-time buyer, enjoying a discounted designer item until they eventually get tired of it and resell. Then they take the money earned from the resale to a primary market (high-end department stores, designer fashion stores) where they buy a new high-end item. Once it’s been seen enough times in their social circles, they sell it in the consignment space. Then the process repeats itself .
In a way, young women are learning about investment, depreciation, and retaining value, but in the context of designer fashion. Many are said to be influenced by Instagram, where they feel they can only show off a style or statement piece a certain, small amount of times before it needs to be “retired” (or resold) .
To be a cliché: Ladies, your voices matter! They matter in terms of dolla dolla bills in the eyes of not only the resale market, but soon enough, the whole fashion landscape. Be bold. Be beautiful. Own it! We have all the power in “buying power”.
Empowering the Ability to Share Style & Build Community
Without question, another reason why the resale market continues to grow at a rapid speed is because they’ve made it easier than tradition stores to buy and sell products . While this is the major appeal for a lot of consumers, it’s not the only appeal resale websites have. Resale companies and sites provide the opportunity to share style and build community within groups of people. According to recent reports, the second-hand, rental, and subscription-based fashion companies are the top three fastest-growing retail categories .
As online consignment shopping and wardrobe-sharing sites become trendier and more mainstream, companies like Rent the Runway create communities of women looking for luxury, but at an accessible price. Users are able to share comments and pictures of them in the items while rating the use and quality of the product. With more feedback from women like ourselves, we feel more confident in rental or resale purchases.
Now, there are dozens of sites out there that allow women to not only sell and purchase luxury products, but share and rent personal items amongst themselves as well. This in and of itself is creating a platform for women to connect, shop, learn, and make transactions between each other, giving consumers what they want while renters/consignors make profit.
Like most online communities, many could argue this one grew because of a recent trend. In a report cited in The New York Times, it suggests that consignment and rental shopping are seeing an increase in appeal as the result of the “Marie Kondo effect”.
In 2014, organizational guru Marie Kondo wrote a book called, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” (which now is accompanied by an immensely popular Netflix special). Perhaps surprisingly, up to 70% of garments in a woman’s closet go unworn each year. But just because so many clothes go unworn doesn’t mean women don’t want something new. Recent reports shows 78% of women say they “rarely find anything new or exciting when shopping at traditional retail stores.” On the other hand, 63% say resale is “thrilling”, because they never know what they’ll find .
As a result of these trends, companies have been founded and communities formed all for the love of luxury goods and innovative ways to share, shop, and sell them!
Women Leaders in the Industry
Women have been at the forefront of a lot of the change in the resale market over the past decade. They’re the inventors, the creators, and the boss ladies behind advancements in the technology, business development, and marketing that has gone into reshaping the luxury resale market into the success that it is today.
Of notable mention:
Julie Wainwright: Founder and Chief Executive of The RealReal, one of the leading players in the growing online market for second-hand luxury, moving $711 million worth of products from brands like Gucci, Chanel, Hermès, and Louis Vuitton. Now with two brick-and-mortar stores in Los Angeles and New York, today The RealReal has over 7 million subscribers and reports revenues of over $500 million .
Corri McFadden: Founder of EDropOff, a Chicago-based leading eBay platform that helps clients sell off high-end merchandise. After a slow start, McFadden realized her best merchandise—the easiest to sell and highest profit margin—were luxury designer clothing. She soon focused her attention on ladies with designer duds to sell and her business grew from there. In 2017, McFadden was selling roughly 1,500 items a week through the online platform .
Marie Kondo: Okay, so maybe she’s not technically a leader in the luxury consignment industry, BUT she is partially responsible for its booming effect. Throughout collecting research for this blog, I saw her name appear time and time again. It seemed only right to give credit where credit is due. Kondo inspired us all to throw away all our items didn’t that spark joy, boosting what’s now a thriving resale apparel market . Empowering women to clean out their closets and earning money while they do it!
Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fliess: Cofounders of the billion dollar designer clothing share company, Rent the Runway. Founded a decade ago, the company has been working for years to expand its business beyond formal dress rentals. Several years ago, it introduced a subscription service for everyday clothing and accessories that has developed a particularly enthusiastic customer base among professional women .
Diana Nguyen: Last, but not least: our fearless leader here at Lux Second Chance. Inspired by her own first experience owning luxury goods, Diana set out to help give others this exceptional experience as well. She believes how you look on the outside reflects how you feel on the inside. From the beginning, Diana was determined to give this feeling to others around the world. In fact, Diana began to fund her entrepreneurial venture by selling 23 of her own luxury handbags to her first customers on the original version of the Lux Second Chance website! Diana took her knowledge as a bond trader and applied it to the global consignment industry, becoming a recognized trailblazer in the North American tech industry.
Okay ladies, now let’s get shopping!
1. Layla Ilchi, “Meet the Speakers at WWD’s First Influencer Summit”, Women’s Wear Daily, June 11, 2019. https://wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-scoops/wwd-influencer-summit-meet-the-speakers-1203165557/
2. Marcia Layton Turner, “How One Woman Makes Millions Reselling Designer Clothes on eBay”, Forbes, February 8, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/marciaturner/2017/02/08/how-one-ebay-millionaire-makes-a-living-selling-designer-clothing-shoes-and-accessories/#245828362287
3. Chavie Lieber. “Inside The RealReal’s Plan to Dominate the Secondhand Luxury Market”, Business of Fashion, June 4, 2019. https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/news-analysis/inside-the-realreals-costly-risky-plan-to-dominate-the-secondhand-luxury-market
4. Sapna Maheshwari, “Rent the Runway Now Valued at $1 Billion With New Funding”, The New York Times, March 21, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/21/business/rent-the-runway-unicorn.html
5. Rina Raphael, “Thanks Marie Kondo! The resale market is becoming bigger than fast fashion”, Fast Company, March 19, 2019. https://www.fastcompany.com/90321065/thanks-marie-kondo-the-resale-market-is-becoming-bigger-than-fast-fashion
6. Catherine Salfino, “Don’t Called It Used: Modern Resale is Growing Fast”, Sourcing Journal, October 25, 2018. https://sourcingjournal.com/topics/lifestyle-monitor/used-modern-resale-is-growing-fast-125293/7.
7. “thredUP 2019 Resale Report”, thredUP, February 2019. https://www.thredup.com/resale