'Reuse more, produce less': Why secondhand gifts are catching on

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Concerns over sustainability and changing views on fashion have made used gifts less taboo.

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Teresa Chin, a friend of mine from grade school, started hunting for Christmas ornaments for her in-laws this year. She had heard about the mess in the global supply chain and didn’t want to be left empty handed.

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so the chin changed Poshmark, an online marketplace for vintage clothing and home goods, where she found figurines of skiing cheetahs—objects full of personal references that made her husband’s parents tick. Because Poshmark sellers tended to list what they already had, Chin wasn’t concerned that busy ports or blocked canals were causing their cheetahs to leave. Purchasing is also commensurate with its value of consuming less new goods.

“It’s on time. It’s cute,” Chin told me. “It feels personal.”

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The Chin is far from alone in giving gifts that are euphemistically referred to as “first owned”. Attitudes about vintage goods have been changing over the years, driven by concerns about consumer waste and climate change. Revaluation has created a booming business for everything from auction sites to online consignment stores.

The popularity of used goods has led many consumers to consider a practice that was once unthinkable: giving away secondhand goods as gifts. Nearly 40% of respondents surveyed by resale sites mercari said they plan to buy at least one vintage gift this year. Half of them said they would be comfortable telling the recipient that the gift was previously owned.

The move to secondhand gifts is getting a powerful boost this year from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shut down factories and closed ports. This has created new items Susceptible to shipping delays and supply shortages, Secondhand goods are not subject to those perils. If collectible sneakers are on site, they’re in stock.

Buying used items online has been around since Web 1.0. But the options for finding the perfect gift have multiplied in recent years. The early Internet standby eBay, where designer clothing and collectibles have been available since the 1990s, is now competing with peer-to-peer marketplaces such as Poshmark and Mercury. online consignment shops, including real real, ThredUp And Vestiaire Collective, has also risen.

Neil Saunders, a retail analyst at Global Data whose firm helped conduct the Mercury survey, says people shopping online for themselves has helped break down the psychological barrier to purchasing used gifts.

“We’ve seen the stigma decrease from year to year,” Saunders said.

Used goods could mean less environmental damage

Some buyers are drawn to online thrift and consignment as a way to reduce their environmental footprint, both ThredUp and RealReal say. This extends to gifting, as 22% of shoppers in a Mercury survey said they would turn to the secondhand market during the holidays due to sustainability concerns.

Buying used fashion gives gift givers something good that contributes less to climate change than something new. The fashion industry has a bad reputation greenhouse gas emissions, polluted water And contribute to deforestation, which has prompted socially conscious people to buy less new clothes. More than 40% of the respondents said Sustainability was a “decisive factor” For purchases on RealReal, according to the company’s survey data.

Company spokeswoman Christina Berger says ThredUp has found that sustainability is particularly motivating to younger shoppers. She says ThredUp and other online resellers can inspire fashion brands to make fewer, higher-quality products.

“There will always be a place for new items, of course,” Berger said. “But overall we need to reuse more and produce less.”

Used goods may be one of a kind

Many gift givers, like my friend Teresa, are looking for something unique that matches the tastes of the recipient. Recent changes in the way shoppers view fashion trends have meant that many people are interested in finding vintage handbags or accessories from fashion collections that are difficult to find. Being up to date isn’t the only — or top — priority for fashionistas.

That change was already underway with items like sneakers, which add up to the highest resale value of all apparel categories, and now that means the most thoughtful gift you can give to a fashionable friend was that of a few years ago. Gucci handbags can be. Consignment sites may only have one or two of all their other items listed, so getting the exact bag can be a big deal.

“It’s even more special to know that the gift giver has created some of the millions of items for you,” said RealReal President Rati Levesque.

Used goods are not necessarily low cost

Holiday gift givers aren’t Scrooge because they shop secondhand. Sure, you can find a nice winter coat or brand name athletic wear for about half the retail price listed on many auction, thrift, and consignment sites, but you can also find Versace handbags and Cartier watches that cost well over a thousand dollars. .

Many consignment services are aimed at people who view clothing as an investment. Companies like RealReal and ThreadUp say they want to help consumers buy new things at a higher cost, and then resell them to cover some of the cost.

It is a potential substitute for fast-fashion purchases. Instead of constantly buying cheap clothing that spoils easily, shoppers who can pay more upfront can use togs that cost more but last longer and lose some of their value. retain. Some sellers may get only a portion of their money back, and others may get more than the original payment because some items increase in value as they become more difficult to find.

Retail analyst Saunders says a higher price tag on a used item can work in favor of the gift giver.

“No one thinks you got cheap,” he says.

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