Industry Trend: Used Clothes

There’s a new trend in town… wearing used clothes.   Wait, you say – that’s not new!  Thrift stores and consignment shops have been around forever!  True.  But the trend is going high-end and becoming more widely used with shoppers who aren’t trying to get dressed on a dime.   Don’t expect to find $5 blazers in any of these spots… but you might find something wonderful at a deep discount.  (Think of it as going to the sale rack, not the Salvation Army).

  • Rented Special Occasion clothing (eg Rent-the-Runway)
  • Shared clothing exchange (eg Gwynnie Bee)
  • High-End Consignment shops (eg Luxury Garage Sale)


Why is this getting popular?  

  1. There is a huge divide in price between high-end and mid-range ready-to-wear clothing.   High-end resale fills that niche.
  2. There is a huge divide in quality between high-end and mid-range RTW.  Wearing used clothing allows the consumer to access the higher end materials without breaking the bank.  As much.  It’s still pricey!
  3. Social norms have changed – once it was only the extremely rich who expected not to repeat a look.  Now social media has spread that policy around, and more people are uncomfortable with keeping a look too long.  Renting a dress is smart if you’re only going to wear it once.
  4. Makes having a larger wardrobe more affordable – if you’re not in love with a garment, you don’t have to keep it.
  5. Because of social media, people hear about certain brands or looks and want to have them for themselves, but can’t afford the new-car price of some of those items.  Luxury consignment fills the niche.


Is this trend for you?

  • Are you a standard or small size?  Most luxury consignment is in the smaller size ranges.  (Shared clothing runs a full size range – Gwynnie Bee has lots of choices in the plus-size category).
  • Are you someone who needs (or wants) a wide array of clothing choices, either because of your industry or social demands?   If you’re expected to hit a gala event once a month – this might be a good choice.
  • Are you madly in love with a certain designer or certain look, and can’t pay retail?


Doesn’t really sound like you…

  • You always have your clothing tailored to fit properly.   You have a hard time finding clothing that fits well.
  • You like a minimalist/capsule wardrobe.
  • You love to wear signature pieces and prefer to keep your clothing as long as possible.


The fashion industry has changed a great deal in the last ten years, and it behooves all of us who have to wear clothing to keep abreast of the possibilities.   The shared/used clothing marketplace is expanding rapidly, and if this sounds like something you’d be interested in, it’s worth giving it a try.

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