Thrifting thrives in the UK as millennial and Gen Z shoppers embrace sustainability
“Thrifting” is becoming a major trend among millennial shoppers in the United Kingdom. Some 52% of shoppers aged 25 to 34 have purchased second-hand clothing in the last year, Mintel consumer research has found, compared to an average of 43%.
And the trend is not just about spending money, but also making it: 50% of shoppers in the same age group also said they had sold their unwanted clothes in the last year, compared to 35% of consumers as a whole.
In a sign of changing attitudes towards fashion sustainability, 50% of the 25 to 34-year-olds surveyed also claimed to have repaired clothes during the same time frame, while 75% of 16- to 24-year-olds (Generation Z) surveyed said they had swapped or would be interested in swapping clothes with other people.
Fashion rental services are also proving popular among young people in Britain, with 54% of Generation Z respondents saying they have rented or would be interested in renting clothes. Some 68% of shoppers in this age group are also making a conscious effort to make more ethical fashion purchases now than they did in the last 12 months, the report found, compared to an average of 57% across British shoppers of all age groups.
“The idea of ‘reusing, reducing and recycling’ has the potential to be a big disruptor in the fashion industry,” said Chana Baram, Mintel Retail analyst, in a statement.
“Young shoppers seem to be emulating their grandparents, who were forced to ‘make do and mend’ during World War II. As the climate crisis continues to gain headlines, consumers’ perspectives are shifting. It’s no longer enough for clothing to be priced well, or to reference the latest trends; fashion brands and retailers also have to think about working towards a goal of providing more sustainable options.”
Fashion rental services have become increasingly common over the past few years, with retailers such as Urban Outfitters, Bloomingdale’s, Banana Republic and H&M incorporating the concept into their business models in 2019.
The H&M Group also acquired an approximate 70% stake in the e-commerce platform Sellpy, which specializes in selling second-hand clothing, last year, while luxury fashion retailers Farfetch and Burberry unveiled initiatives designed to encourage customers to consign pre-loved items. IB/RGA