Shopping for clothes second-hand has become a popular pursuit in recent years, especially among consumers who want to get more bang for their buck, hunt for vintage finds, or reduce their environmental footprint. Although many consumers enjoy the deals they find while thrifting, this phenomenon isn’t unique to discount-hunters. The luxury fashion resale industry is now worth close to $50 billion, and ongoing CivicScience polling data show that close to 35% of U.S. adults are at least ‘somewhat’ likely to purchase second-hand luxury fashion and/or accessories in the next 30 days (n=2,140 responses from 3/22/24-4/2/24). 

The greatest interest in second-hand luxury fashion is from the Gen Z age group, followed by Millennials. There is also significant interest from young men, with 40% of men between the ages of 18 and 34 indicating they are more likely to purchase second-hand luxury items today than they were last year, compared to 33% of women in this age group.

Join the Conversation: How often do you buy second-hand luxury clothing?

Convenience Matters 

With increased interest in online thrifting in recent years (especially among Gen Z), it’s clear that some consumers are looking for more efficient thrifting methods. CivicScience data show 37% of consumers report they have purchased second-hand luxury goods online. Among online second-hand retailers, eBay reigns supreme in the resale of luxury fashion – 57% of those who have bought second-hand luxury fashion in the last year made purchases from eBay, followed by 31% who have purchased from Poshmark. 

Unsurprisingly, consumers who follow current fashion trends and styles are more likely to have interest in buying second-hand luxury goods. Forty-five percent of those who indicated they follow trends ‘very closely’ also said they were ‘much more likely’ to purchase a second-hand luxury item today than last year, compared to only 6% who said they were ‘much less likely.’ 

In addition, social media users show far greater interest in second-hand luxury fashion. The ties between TikTok users and thrifting have already been examined, but new polling data reveal a connection between social media and the second-hand luxury fashion market. Seventy-five percent of respondents who are influenced ‘a lot’ by fashion seen on social media also indicated they were more likely to purchase second-hand luxury fashion today than they were last year, compared to only 9% of those who are ‘not at all’ influenced by fashion seen on social media. 

High Risk, High Reward

While second-hand luxury fashion has clearly gained popularity in some markets, many consumers are still wary of these items, specifically those sold online. Thirty-nine percent of respondents who indicated that they prefer buying new luxury items over second-hand items reported that they are ‘very’ concerned about the risk of purchasing fake or fraudulent second-hand luxury goods online, with an additional 29% indicating they are ‘somewhat’ concerned. Online buyers show less severe concern (1,887 responses from 3/22/24-3/26/24). 

Although many websites now offer authentication checks to ensure the legitimacy of online purchases, 21% of people who prefer to buy second-hand luxury apparel and accessories (versus new) said that they are not familiar with the concept, indicating that lack of awareness may be contributing to hesitancy. However, 40% express some level of confidence in these checks (1,253 responses from 3/22/24-3/26/24). 

Take Our Poll: Have you ever knowingly purchased a fake luxury item?

Additional Insights from the CivicScience InsightStore™:

  • A total of 24% of respondents indicated that they prefer to purchase luxury apparel and accessories second-hand, compared to 22% who said they prefer to purchase new luxury apparel and accessories (n=2,004 responses from 3/22/24-3/26/24). 
  • More than 2-in-5 people who buy second-hand luxury goods are most interested in the clothing category. Handbags is the second most popular category, with 14% of respondents indicating interest (n=3,348 responses from 3/22/24-3/26/24). 
  • Many customers of department stores that sell high-end or luxury items are turning to second-hand options: 48% of Bloomingdale’s shoppers are very likely to purchase second-hand luxury fashion items in the next 30 days, compared to 45% of Saks shoppers and 38% of Nordstrom shoppers (n=888-905 responses as of 3/30/2024). 

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