Europe's second-hand fashion industry is forecasted to reach US$36,368.10 million by 2034!

April 24, 2024 by
Frank Calviño

The second-hand fashion industry is on the rise, and it is no longer considered a ‘poor man’s choice. Brands like Balenciaga and websites like Hardly Ever Worn It are pioneering and leading this profitable industry. 

In fact, Europe's second-hand apparel industry is estimated to reach a value of US$17,329.90 million in 2024. The momentum is forecast to prevail with a CAGR of 7.70%, taking the valuation to a projected US$36,368.10 million by 2034. Following a Statista report, resale surpassed traditional thrift and donation for the first time in 2023, generating 11.9 billion euros versus 11.5 billion euros, respectively.

In light of these facts, no one can deny that there is money in the second-hand market. But why? Why is second-hand growing so much? One of the main reasons for this is a generational shift: Gen Z seems more than ‘okay’ with the idea of buying pre-owned products. That’s why most second-hand transactions are done via e-commerce marketplaces. 

What websites or platforms are leading Europe’s second-hand fashion market? 

In this ‘new sector’—no pun intended—there are only a few websites and e-commerce platforms leading the way. One of them is Vestiaire Collective. Founded in 2009, Vestiaire Collective is Europe’s biggest resale site for luxury fashion, with 25,000 pieces added to the platform every day. As there’s no shortage of choice, search for your favorite brands or the exact piece you’re looking for to avoid being overwhelmed.

Products like Rolex, Dolce & Gabbana, and Versace are sold directly from the owner to new customers using this solution. 

Another long-time second-hand e-commerce solution is Farfetch, which has long been ahead of the game, launching its pre-owned section back in 2010. Fitting in seamlessly with the rest of its offerings, the e-tailer allows you to shop second-hand while enjoying the same luxury experience it provides for those shopping brand-new.

And some other places like Depop - one of Gen Z’s favorite resale sites - were even promoted by Bella Hadid.

Is Europe ready for a secondhand logistic structure? 

Many of the leading logistics and delivery companies have already begun to adapt to the specific needs of this second-hand fashion market. And we say ‘specific needs’ because, indeed, second-hand fashion requires some specific logistics needs, like recovering used products directly from the client to be processed, cleaned, and reviewed by the second-hand marketplace to guarantee their quality or even some specific maintenance required to resell high-ticket products from luxury brands.  

This is why logistic providers are quickly picking up the pace to create specific second-hand solutions and logistic alliances. Thus giving birth to an entirely new logistic infrastructure in Europe. 

Perhaps one of the most well-known cases of this is the DHL and Reflaunt alliance, which we previously covered in Cross Border Magazine. Following a one-year pilot in Europe, the two companies have announced a partnership, with DHL Supply Chain becoming the new logistics provider for the second-hand fashion retail platform.

According to Cathaleen Chen, The Business of Fashion at DHL Supply Chain, the agreement brings unprecedented scale and efficiency to the resale industry, with more than 1,300 warehouses and offices worldwide. "Using Reflaunt's technology and DHL's logistics power, brands have a convenient and fully integrated resale service to provide to their buyers," she said.

Overall, with approximately $49.3 billion (€45 billion) worth of secondhand luxury products worldwide in 2023 — according to Bain & Company estimates — brands and businesses whishing to remain relevant — or even profitable — should start taking into consideration the profitable second-hand market. 

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