Throughout history there have been whole generations of the public that have had both spending power and the ideals to alter a society. And though the post-war kids born between 1946 and 1964 known as the baby boomers had a massive impact on economic growth due to their spending energy and push, it is Gen Z that has got the power to forever change the luxury fashion industry as we know it.
Gen Z has an estimated spending power of $143 billion, according to Business Insider, and while they’re touted as the digital generation, the truth is they care about connections and community initiatives just as much, or even more than their internet presence. This focus on ecological and societal causes coupled with the spending power of Gen Z, who this year alone will account for approximately 40% of international customers, is the perfect storm of sorts for its secondhand style boom.
In accordance with Business of style, few generations of consumers have gravitated towards the secondhand market in the manner that younger customers have. Today, Gen Z, whose oldest shoppers ‘ 22, have adopted a penchant for resale fashion quicker than any other generation.
40 percent of Gen-Zers bought secondhand style in 2019, compared to just 25 percent in 2016, according to ThredUp, an online consignment and thrift store. There’s no denying that the social focus on sustainable fashion and the resale market is now more prevalent than ever before, and as the younger subset of Gen-Zers enter adulthood their spending power will only continue to grow, forcing retailers to take a second look at the secondhand market. This powerful generation of spenders has the ability to completely alter the business and it is time that the more luxury retailers take notice.
The high-end market is increasing four times faster than the key luxury market, nevertheless currently most luxury brands still refuse to capitalize on the flourishing secondhand industry. Currently, the resale market is dominated by an array of key players such as Ebay, Fashionphile, The RealReal, StockX, Vestiaire Collective, Poshmark, Depop and more. Each functions in its own distinctive way and while many boast a guarantee of authenticity, horror stories of super-fakes and goods not as described are all too common.
Gucci expects to change this, with its just-announced venture with The RealReal, in which the brand will directly oversee the resale of items across all categories. Though Gucci isn’t the first brand to partner with The RealReal (Stella McCartney and Burberry have a connection with the company), this partnership in particular is a game-changer since Gucci continues to be one of the most popular brands among young shoppers.
As more youthful consumers continue to take interest in shopping resale, it is about time that other luxury brands follow suit. If more brands were to have their hands in the reselling of the product, everybody would win. Authenticity issues are few and far between for starters, making customers considerably more likely to purchase secondhand. Conversely, they would likely be more willing to purchase new styles knowing they’d have the ability to resell them should they fall out of love with a bit or find it is no longer serving a purpose.
Luxurious brands would benefit from having a stake in resale also, over just monetarily. Concerns of diluted brand image and distribution would be alleviated with each brand with more control within their secondary industry. While there’s no denying that the opportunity is very good, so is the resistance. Though there are legitimate reasons why luxury brands are still not sold on the notion of joining the secondary marketplace, as luxury resale becomes more widely accepted, it’s time that more manufacturers themselves take control of their eponymous.