The circularity of second-hand shopping

  • by Scarlet Destiny Admin

As we all already know, the fast fashion industry is incredibly harmful in terms of the extensive CO2 emissions and water usage that goes into the manufacturing processes. Cheaply made pieces that flood the market are essentially meant to be thrown away. This results in bleak statistics such as 12.8 million tons of clothing that end up in landfills every year in the US alone.

But what can we do to stop this, or at least slow down the process?

In the past month, at Scarlet Destiny, we have talked about all the practices that can make the Fashion Industry more circular, and their pros and cons. It’s now time to think and talk about the one really sustainable way of slowing down the constant waste cycle of this industry: the resale market.

The recent exponential market growth of resale culture may be a feasible solution to putting a cap on fast fashion’s devastating carbon footprint. The fashion resale economy is thriving at a rapid rate fuelled by changing consumer attitudes to embrace the importance of sustainability and helping the environment, and it is set to become a bigger market than luxury by the end of 2022. The demographic leading this change in purchasing habits are millennials and Gen Z, with a 45 percent growth in buying second-hand in the past two years. This means that there is no longer a stigma around thrifting being only for those in a lower socioeconomic class. Rather, thrifting is embraced with open arms by all as people associate it with buying ‘vintage’, ‘authentic’, and ‘unique’ pieces.


Secondhand shopping cuts down on fast fashion demands and decreases the amount of clothes that end up in landfills every year. In the past five years, the number of shoppers who prefer to buy from environmentally friendly brands has increased from 57 to 72 percent. Through this, retailers and brands are realising that resale culture is the future, as the demand for ethical and sustainable options continues to grow. In fact, quite a lot of companies have set up a secondhand marketplace where consumers can sell and buy their favourite brand’s pieces, without the carbon emissions associated with production processes.

Worn Wear from Patagonia is probably the most widely known repair and resale program. Customers can trade in their used Patagonia branded gear and apparel for store credit to be inspected, cleaned & repaired, and resold.

As part of Mara Hoffman’s sustainability commitments, the designer has a marketplace dedicated to buying and selling pre-owned Mara Hoffman garments. Customers can resell their pre-owned garments that were purchased directly from or from third-party retailers in 2019 or later. Shoppers can then purchase these garments directly from the resellers.

Another slow fashion designer is Eileen Fisher, who is dedicated to designing garments to last. So, it’s a natural extension of their mission to have a resale program to ensure that their pieces get the long life they were designed for. Customers can trade in used branded garments for credit and these are then sorted, cleaned, and resold.


These marketplaces are a great way for consumers to find sustainable fashion more affordably, and in an even more environmentally conscious manner, as well as representing an easy way to help already-owned pieces get a second life. Companies and brands can benefit from these initiatives not only economically, but also by gaining the support of an audience that is becoming more aware and conscious  by the day.

People’s closets will be made up increasingly of second-hand items and items from new retail models such as subscription boxes and resale-focused websites. Consequently, the resale culture is now beginning to be large-scale, completely changing the culture of fashion by making the current linear model into a circular one.

(Information sourced on and

(Featured image and photo 1: by cottonbro on

(Photo 2: by cottonbro on


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