Fashion trends: Second-hand and sustainable fashion

Clothes hanging on a rack
Cautious customers are making online trading in the fashion sector more difficult. From the beginning of April to the end of June 2022, its sales decreased by almost 12 percent. Nevertheless, the outlook is still positive – also because second hand and sustainable fashion are invigorating the market.

Is your shop suffering from fewer sales? Then you are not alone.

The recent world developments pose many challenges, and the e-commerce sector is not exempt. The fashion sector is particularly affected. A study by the German Bundesverband E-Commerce und Versandhandel (Bevh – Federal Association for E-Commerce and mail order) found that the sector’s second quarter sales decreased considerably compared with the same period last year. While between April and June 2021, they were still worth 4.4 billion euros, in the same period of 2022, their value fell to 3.9 billion euros. That is a drop of 11.7 percent!

Even though these figures won’t drive more sales for you during these tough economic times, they can help you understand the situation better. If you are struggling – you are not alone! Meanwhile, you may also consider incorporating sustainable and second-hand fashion into your offer. Especially the latter is booming online.

Second-hand is beating brand-new items

The run-down used-goods stores in which people flit from one rack to another now have some fierce competition. Fashionistas started looking for sought-after second-hand items online. Whether it’s called resale, pre-loved, or pre-owned – with just a few clicks you can select a suitable size and favored style from used clothing, just as you would do with brand-new items. No wonder then that one of the surveys published by the market research institute Kantar showed that almost two-thirds (63 percent) of second-hand shoppers purchase online.

Meanwhile, the online offerings are massive. Specialist platforms like Momox, Rebelle, and Mädchenflohmarkt have been prancing around the market for quite some time, but now more major players are climbing on board the resale train, as it looks ever more promising in terms of profits. Not so long ago, in 2020, we could observe a remarkable entry into the second-hand business by the fast fashion giant H&M. Other companies, such as About You and Zalando, are following similar steps. Even luxury brands such as Kering, FarFetch, and Net-a-Porter have launched second-hand ventures.

At Ladenzeile we also believe in promoting conscious shopping values. To support the sale of used clothing, we have added second-hand filters, so that also our users can easily look for their pre-loved favorites!

The best is that the second-hand market is far from being saturated! Just how much growth potential is still there was investigated by the Boston Consulting Group. According to the group’s forecast published in a study in 2020, by 2025, the value of the second-hand fashion market (which in 2020 was 30 to 40 billion US dollars) should grow by 15 to 20 percent. Per year! 

Why is second-hand booming this way? Momox Fashion has been trying to find out. For its 2022 Fashion Report, this re-commerce provider questioned more than 7000 participants. The consequences of the high inflation figured prominently in the answers, with 83 percent of the respondents admitting saving money as their motivation to buy second-hand. For 87 percent, however, the main reason was quite different: it is good for the environment.

Sustainable fashion as megatrend

This brings us to sustainability. In recent years the topic has gained more attention, mostly because of the international Fridays-for-future movement. Now, the fashion sector is expected to adjust and not put more strain on the climate. Key words here are resource usage, sustainable textiles, more transparent supply chains, and fair fashion.

The popularity of sustainable fashion is still limited due to its high prices, but the demand is there and slowly shows in consumers’ shopping behavior. Almost two-thirds of German consumers (62 percent) buy sustainable clothing, at least from time to time. This was one of the findings made by the research company Appinio in a representative survey conducted in 2021. It applies mostly to the upper price segment, where sustainability has clearly become the key driver. Cécile Wickmann, the founder of Rebelle, when speaking at the “Sustainability Summit”, organized by the trade paper Textilwirtschaft (Textile Industry) put it even clearer: 

“The new 'Statement Piece' must be sustainable.”

The scale of the demand for sustainability is also shown by the latest venture of Peek & Cloppenburg. At the end of June 2022, news leaked that this omnichannel retailer planned something big: an ‘Eco-Megastore’ of 3,500 square meters in the center of Berlin. The store, which is to be the size of more than four handball courts, will not only sell exclusively sustainable fashion but also host events on the topic. It is to be open in 2023. 

As you can see, a lot is happening in the fashion sector. We may not be able to predict the development of inflation, but one thing is clear: the topics of sustainability and second hand are here to stay. It is high time to make use of them!


Corona und Nachhaltigkeit pushen Secondhand-Handel im Netz, Textilwirtschaft-Analyse, Bert Rösch, Textilwirtschaft, 7. April 2021.

Große Mehrheit der Deutschen kauft nachhaltige Mode, Repräsentative Umfrage unter 1000 Deutschen, Bert Rösch, Textilwirtschaft, 23. September 2021.

„Keine Mission, sondern Information“. Die Top-Statements vom TW Sustainability Summit, Mara Javorovic, Kirsten Reinhold, Textilwirtschaft, 22. Juni 2022.

Konsumflaute auch beim E-Commerce spürbar. Umsatz im Mode-Onlinehandel sinkt im 2. Quartal um rund 12%, Melanie Gropler, Textilwirtschaft, 07. Juli 2022.

In Berlin: P&C eröffnet ersten Eco-Megastore. Ankermieter in den neuen Potsdamer Platz Arkaden, Jörg Nowicki, Textilwirtschaft, 24. Juni 202.

Secondhand ersetzt Neuware. Neue Studie von Momox Fashion, Bert Rösch, Textilwirtschaft, 21. Januar 2022.


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