Earlier to buy second hand clothes one would have to make visits to flea markets, garage sales, and thrift shops. But finding the right size and decent quality can be difficult from a rag of old clothes. However, with changing times and increase in the use of internet, consumers began buying and selling used but quality clothes through websites like e-bay.

What is re-commerce?

With the increase in awareness among consumers to reduce, re-use, and recycle garments, the need for an appropriate platform to sell and buy fashionable clothes in good condition was necessary. This is when re-commerce and re-fashionising was born. Tech savvy consumers today, make smart buying decisions. Re-commerce or reverse commerce is the recovery of products through internet or physical stores. The concept of online re-commerce is booming just like any other re-selling commodities business like electronic items and vehicles.

The purchasing pattern of consumers is moving from a clichd impulsive buyer to a smart money saver. Stacking one's wardrobe with too many clothes and buying a new staple garment from the latest trends is becoming pass with the younger generation of shoppers. They are monitoring the benefits of spending more efficiently and are more responsible towards the environment.

Reasons for rise in re-commerce

Trading in clothes that one no more requires to trade up to the latest fashion piece is becoming the new buying among apparel shoppers. There are three main reasons driving the performance of re-commerce of apparels and garments. Tough economic times and budget restrictions have certainly made consumers consider the option of clothing re-commerce. Also, it gives consumers a chance to make the clothes in vogue their own. Keeping the planet green and emphasizing on minimizing waste is another concern that is propelling the idea of re-fashionising in a big way. In the lust for possessing the new, consumers have taken to the re-commerce trend.

Fashion re-commerce is definitely changing ways of shopping not just online but the trend is also very popular among offline retailers. Big apparel brands across the globe are actively involved and are encouraging consumers to do so too with attractive return offers and recycling discounts.

Models for re-commerce

There are various models that are operating in online thrift shopping trend currently. Some re-commerce models like Threadflip, Poshmark, and 99dresses help in connecting the buyers and sellers of the product for a price, for which they charge a fee. While some online re-commerce sites acquire garments like ThredUp from sellers and re-sell them. This model is beneficial for customers who do not wish to waste time, money, and

efforts. And the third kind is where re-commerce sites provide concierge services of collecting, photographing and shipping products like The Real Real. These online sites also curate styles and apparels through a selection process. Mobile applications of re-sale fashion sites are fuelling this concept.

Moreover, online re-commerce platforms let consumers share their stories behind a dress or a garment and create profiles to make the whole process more humanizing, rather than a boring conventional buying and selling transaction. Re-commerce sites are trying to make the process of re-selling trust worthy through product authentication, quality control, and social and interactive mechanisms for building confidence among consumers. Swapping sites and events are also a growing and innovative way of re-using and recycling clothes.

Consumers nowadays want to invest money in garments that have a re-sale value and in a small way do their bit to reduce landfill and save the environment. Hence many retailers owning physical stores have also joined the bandwagon of recycling clothes through re-commerce. For example, A.P.C, the French denim retailer introduced a butler worn-out jeans collection, where customers could exchange their old denims for a new one for half the price. The brand fixed the worn out jeans with initials of the previous owner and resold them. Similarly GAP and Levi's stores also lured customers to trade their old denims and avail discounts for their new pairs of jeans.

Re-commerce and going green

The market for second hand clothing is growing with increasing awareness of consumers to reduce the carbon footprint. Moreover, a concept like re-commerce of fashion generates a conscious consumption pattern among consumers. Conscious consumption can be defined as a process of making thoughtful and more meaningful purchase decisions. There are many clothes that remain unused in one's wardrobe because they no longer fit, are out of trend, cannot be repeated, or, one no longer wishes to wear them. Normally such used clothes either are donated to a charity, go to a post-consumer recycling center, or in most cases head straight to the landfill, adding to the existing large sum of textile waste.

The post consumer textile waste recycling business around the world is of 1,250,000 tons each year. The post-consumer waste in United States is of 2.5 million pounds annually. Re-using and re-fashionising is one way of moving away from fast fashion and adopting the more eco-conscious way of slow fashion.

Using online and offline fashion re-commerce helps in slowing down the utilization of raw materials, production of garments, and ultimately reducing the consumption of apparels. This in return reduces the emission of carbon dioxide and other gases, reduces energy usage, and waste accumulating in landfills.

The demand for used clothing and re-fashion has grown especially in the times of economic hardships and consumers have taken to conscious consumption decisions to

save money and also benefit the environment. The younger generation thinks differently and is more aware of the issues regarding sustainability and the environment. They also realize that with limited space for landfill, it becomes increasingly important to consider recycling and using bio-degradable textile and garments.

Benefits of fashion re-commerce:

  • It helps keep one's closet from overflowing
  • Helps in saving money
  • It helps trade up to the latest product
  • Encourages recycling and re-using of garments
  • Encourages conscious consumption

The fashion conscious shoppers no more bear the inhibitions of wearing used clothes provided they get the latest and the best of quality. Consumers want to get maximum out of what they consume and hence buying a product with a good re-sale value is now on their agenda. These factors are contributing towards the business of re-selling in the apparel and clothing industry.

Womenswear is not just the only category that receives more attention, but along with menswear, there are re-commerce avenues for kidswear, teenswear, college wear, and maternity wear. With consumers taking active interest in going green and recycling, and initiatives being taken by apparel retail brands to promote re-use and recycling of clothes, re-commerce in fashion is just going to progress in the near future.


1. Trendwatching.com

2. Huffingtonpost.com

3. Profitguide.com

4. Onlineeconomy.com

5. Slowfashioned.com