Recently, charity organisation Oxfam announced a war on fast fashion with its Second-hand September campaign.
Today’s shoppers are trending towards a more discerning and eco-friendly form of purchasing and while some retailers are going with the flow, there is still a large desire for a retail sugar rush by promoting disposable or fast fashion.
Oxfam wants Second hand September to become an institution, indeed, the charity would love to see second-hand shopping become the norm all year round.
And the signs are looking very positive that this campaign might have seized the zeitgeist.
According to online retailer onbuy.com, last month, UK shoppers searched the keyword “second-hand’ over 100,000 times.
The news forms part of a global study of shopping behavior and in particular how often countries search for “second-hand”, “resale” and other derivatives.
The US searched almost one million times a month for “thrift shops”, Germany came second with 338,640 unique searches and France and Italy placed fifth and sixth respectively with 42,560 and 34,110 monthly searches for ‘second-hand”, so could this be a tipping point for charity shopping and in particular indicate where the salvation of the high street might lie?
Sustainable shopping may not be the most loved initiative for fashion retailers from a business perspective, but they should be prepared to support and advocate for any sustainable business practices in order to appeal to the growing environmentally-conscious market.
Oxfam sustainable fashion expert Fee Gilfeather said:“The damage of fast fashion is far reaching – from extensive use of water in production to poor pay and conditions for workers,” she said.
“The carbon emissions from new clothing bought in the UK every month are greater than the emissions from flying around the world 900 times.
“The industry needs to change and second-hand retail is just one way that consumers can use their shopping behaviour to make a difference to the 11 million garments that go to UK landfill every week.”
More retailers are realising that their sustainable actions are having a direct effect on their reputation and brand image as more consumers make environmentally conscious shopping decisions.
An example of this is Burberry’s new eco-friendly range made using regenerated fishing nets, fabric scraps & industrial plastic launched last month.
Meanwhile, second-hand retailers are expanding – growing 21 times faster than the wider retail market over the past three years, according to research complied by GlobalData for online retailer Thredup.
Gilfeather said second-hand shopping was a “great way to shop sustainably”.
“We hope that by taking the challenge to break the cycle of buying new clothes for just one month, people who do second-hand September will be able to review their shopping habits and make more sustainable choices in future.”
Resale clothing or charity store shopping may have once been frowned upon, but with consumer attitudes shifting, there is no longer a stigma to buy second-hand items.
Trends such as #OOOTD (Old Outfit Of The Day), where social media users post a picture of their look styled, vintage and excess stock finds, are constantly gaining in popularity and savvy shoppers are constantly trawling Depop and Ebay for vintage and cost-friendly items.
But there will always be a need for new. Underwear and socks for example do not feature in the second-hand offering, so clothing manufacturers need to address the types of textiles they choose and try to extend its durability.
Oxfam is certainly on the right path, but all retailers need to look at what triggers the new generation of shoppers to buy clothes in order to ensure their own durability.