Why buy second-hand?

In recent years, two antagonistic phenomena have developed: fast fashion and slow fashion .

Fast fashion refers to a very rapid renewal of collections in order to follow new trends which follow one another at a frantic pace . The lifespan of the new fashionable jeans will be just as short-lived as its quality once worn and washed!

Slow fashion , in contrast, consists of applying ethical and transparency requirements to the clothing value chain (design, production, consumption), with the aim of reducing the environmental impact .

It is in this second logic that the second-hand market has developed .

The second hand, and more broadly all forms of textile recycling , offers a concrete way to act positively on the environmental impact of fashion. Focus on what the second hand is, what are its actors, its advantages and its limits.

The second-hand market

The second-hand market, a market that is exploding and changing

In its report, ThredUp, the American online thrift store predicts that , by 2030, this market will be twice as large worldwide as that of fast fashion. This is a historic shift .

"You have to go back to the 19th century to find such a domination of second-hand clothes in consumption patterns" Manuel Charpy, historian, researcher at the CNRS and editor-in-chief of the journal Modes Pratiques). “At that time, worn clothes were the norm. The working classes, the bulk of the clientele, largely bought uniforms abandoned by the army which were re-dyed and re-cut. From the middle of the century, artists and students began to glean old clothes with an original story, in an idea of ​​contesting the bourgeois uniform”.

Today, the second-hand and second-hand market is making a comeback and is on the rise, this time affecting all social categories. No more merry brothel of the thrift store! Today, the second-hand sector has become more stylish thanks to growing consumer demand and a digital offer.

Second-hand fashion players

According to the French Institute of Fashion, 40% of the population of France would have bought an article already used in 2019, a figure up 10 points compared to 2018 . This new segment is in the process of lastingly transforming the fashion sector and anchoring itself in everyday life.

The second-hand market is driven by platforms like Vinted and Depop, leaders with their online platforms that are all the rage among 15-25 year olds.

Other brands are surfing the second-hand wave by bringing the atmosphere of the 70s, 80s or 90s back to life not virtually but physically. We can mention Kiloshop, MadVintage and Guerrisol .

Even the department stores are getting into it.

A new 500 m2 shop-in-the-shop (the RE(STORE)) which offers a second-hand offer from major brands , from high-end to the most accessible, was inaugurated at Galerie Lafayette Hausmann in Paris in September 2021 It is a real symbol for this key player in luxury and Parisian chic fashion, which allocates a special place to brands that are actors in circularity . There are second-hand brands (La Petite chineuse, Entremains, Monogram), those that rework end of series or overstock fabrics (Patine, Barje, La Bonne Pioche, Marianna Ladreyt), and also services for depositing their old clothes and thus resell, recycle or personalize them.

The Printemps Hausmann department store is also devoting a new space of 1,300 square meters to circularity, which opened in September 2021. It brings together a vintage offer, a clothing buy-back service and a panel of brands committed to eco-responsibility . A label has even been created “United towards responsible beauty”, which analyzes the performance of brands in terms of sustainability. It is structured around nine themes ranging from sourcing to logistics, including the promotion of the inclusive economy and innovation.

This momentum is driven in particular by brand initiatives . The H&M group thus promises that in 2030, it will “use only materials from sustainable sources”. For its part, Uniqlo wants to: “eliminate single-use plastic throughout its supply chain”. A "fashion pact" was signed by more than 60 companies in the fashion and textile sector such as Celio, Mango, Promod or Nike and presented on August 26, 2019 to the heads of state gathered at the G7 summit in Biarritz. The objectives are ambitious and centered on three themes: halting global warming , restoring biodiversity and protecting the oceans.

So as a consumer what are its advantages? Is buying second-hand really ecological?

Why buy / hunt second hand?

Why buy second-hand clothes?

We are increasingly filling our cupboards with second-hand items. And that's good news because there are many considerations.

  • They are ecological

According to a Thred up study, if every citizen in the United States converted the purchase of a new item for a used item, it would be equivalent to withdrawing half a million cars from the market.

The second hand , like textile recycling , offers a concrete way to act positively on the environmental impact of the production and consumption of clothing.

The least polluting garment being the one that is not produced , the second hand is an alternative favoring eco-responsible consumption.

  • They are economical

This is a significant reason to buy second-hand. The price of a second-hand garment being lower than that of the same new garment, and if you participate to the end of the circular loop by putting second-hand clothes on sale on the market, the savings are yours !

The term antiquing takes on its full meaning when it comes to finding bargains beyond the style and history of the garment.

But beware, the purchase must be reasoned , the garment purchased with a view to being consumed over the long term and bringing us a real emotional attachment.

  • They relate to the diversity of the offer

There is more clothing on Earth than is needed to dress the entire planet. The second hand is years of history on fashion, trends, designers, styles, brands, and all in one place to be mixed and create your own look with unique pieces that only you will wear. .

The second hand: is it ecological?

The report “Revers de mon look” produced by ADEME, transcribes the impact of each textile production on the Earth and on Men . From the harvesting of raw materials to the recycling of clothing, the life cycle of clothing consumes and destroys natural resources to the detriment of our ecological and social conscience, and our style!

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light serious failures within the global fashion industry system , noting issues of overstocking , opaque supply chains, an absence of healthy supplier relationships , and a harmful environmental impact due to the “take-make-dispose” model. The pandemic is today an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past , to reassess our mode of consumption and to accelerate the transition towards sustainable fashion.

The least polluting garment being that which is not produced, the second hand is an alternative favoring eco-responsible consumption . But it still has its limits . It should not encourage hyperconsumption , and even less the hyperconsumption of brands from fast fashion.

Because no, the second hand will not be the miracle cure if it is synonymous with hyperconsumption . The attractive prices and the diversity of the offer should not favor the “take-make-dispose” model where we consume and sell in an ordinary way. 

The purchase, even second hand, must be reasoned and born with a view to consuming as little as possible.

Because we, consumers, dictate the fashion market. The less we buy, the less fashion big players will produce. The more importance we attach to the composition of the garment and its supply, the more they will adapt to our requirements.

Let's change our habits, not the planet.