The online crafts website Etsy has just bought Depop for US$1.6 billion, proving that resale is here to stay and in fact is the future.
While most of Etsy’s sellers are 39 on average, Depop has the reins on the Gen Z resale market, with 90% of their 30 million users being 26 and under. Chief executive of Etsy Josh Silverman told Financial Times, “The resale market, in general, is a massive market that we think is well-positioned for growth well into the future […]. We think Gen Z is the most exciting community within resale”.
And he’s not wrong. According to Etsy, Depop became the tenth most visited shopping site amongst us, Gen Z consumers in the US. The online consignment and thrift store thredUP estimated that resale value will triple in value in the next decade, which is not surprising considering the market for secondhand clothing expanded 21 times more than retail in 2019.
One quick scroll through StockX and you will find countless sneakers going for the most ridiculous prices. Like one item on Grailed when you wake up and by the time you’re making your coffee it’s already been sold. But why are we so obsessed with resale? Well there are a few explanations.
The most obvious reason is when there’s profit to be made within a market, people will make profit. Perhaps the downside of the resale market, many are no longer buying sneakers and items of clothing to wear, but rather to sell. Which, you guessed it, makes retail no longer available for the average consumer, now having to rely on resale to cop that pair of Travis Scott Jordan 1 Retro High. And when the demand for a sold out product is high, its resale price is bound to be double, triple or even more (who’s counting anymore…) than its initial retail price. And what’s bad about that, you ask? Well just look at Nike’s Go Flyease, dubbed the ‘Most Accessible Shoe’ as it is adapted for those with conditions affecting dexterity and mobility. Turns out the laceless shoe was not-so-accessible, as resale vultures sold out the pair within minutes, and now are reselling it on StockX for double its price. Yeah… not a great look for resellers. Though, no matter your opinion on them, this margin of incredible profit tapped by full-time resellers has created an undeniable culture, popularizing the market.
Yet reselling isn’t all about large sums of profits. In fact, Depop sellers thrive on affordability, pricing many of their items under £50. So what else could be driving the resale market to be such a vibrant place? The pandemic has actually been a huge factor. No surprise here, what has the pandemic not affected? Slowing down society, and indeed the fashion industry – which strives on a fast-paced schedule – many were bored of their regular retail stores, and turned to second-hand sites to rebuild their wardrobe. The lack of anything new, plus our anemoia, made those old pieces that have been laying at the back of your wardrobe since 2006 extra popular and super resellable. Think of the Y2K aesthetic that made a massive comeback over the past couple years – it all started from resale websites and only then trickled down into retail stores.
And our overarching nostalgia issue does not exempt the Margiela and Yamamoto fanatics. Endlessly scouring the corners of the Internet for that one archival piece, a community of high fashion collectors has formed, especially on sites like eBay and Grailed. While fast fashion is constantly spewing out new collections (which frankly won’t last you more than a couple of months) and luxury brands like Gucci and Fendi have been relying on logomania, this community rejects trends and labels and favours timeless, high-quality pieces. This archival movement favours past pieces made at a time where design was favoured over brand names and logos. And while the market for archival pieces is slow due to the sheer rarity of certain pieces, that doesn’t mean there isn’t huge profit to be made there, with insane auctions and instant sell-outs.
Though, reselling could also be the byproduct of something much bigger. Our generation is known for being unapologetic and outspoken when it comes to their values. And sustainability is up there for us. So not only is reselling popular because of its profit-making potential and its vintage appeal, it is also a political move to shop resale instead of retail. It is no secret the fashion industry is highly polluting and extremely damaging to our environment. Resale enables consumers to shop locally, as well as supporting independent sellers rather than giant fast fashion chains. And on top of that, it gives items of clothing a second life, avoiding being dumped in some awful landfield. It’s a win-win situation really.
So what are you waiting for? Obviously resale is not dead so go out there and sell or cop some sh*t.