Charity Super.Mkt co-founder Maria Chenoweth has said “online is the new car boot sale” when speaking about the role of pre-loved in the fashion market, alongside Depop, eBay and River Island at LIVE 2024.

Retail Week Live preloved fashion panel

Source: Gomes Photography

Chenoweth said that as much as she remains “old fashioned” and favours bricks-and-mortar retail, online has taken over in the world of pre-loved fashion.

She said: “There has been a huge growth in the secondhand sector and that has been driven by the push for sustainability. Now, there are as many charity retail shops on the high street as there are fashion stores, so we do mirror the clothing industry quite closely.

“There’s a new joyful demographic that’s taking up secondhand shopping, so the demographic is broadening and the availability of secondhand clothes is growing.”

Director of sustainability and DEI at Depop Justine Porterie said: “There has definitely been a shift in terms of how mainstream secondhand is now. From our perspective, we truly believe that this has been driven and triggered by the younger generation.

“The younger generation made it second nature to shop secondhand and this has inspired more and more people and generations to embrace secondhand.

“Trends within fashion, by nature, are circular and so secondhand brought in a new way to engage with trends and fashion in a way that is more conscious and more sustainable.”

eBay head of pre-loved Lucy Peacock echoed this point, adding that talks of preloved being all about Gen Z is a “myth”, as eBay is seeing shoppers up to the age bracket of 55+ shopping secondhand.

She added that there is a “strong value element” to the pre-loved market, with customers favouring being able to get their favourite brands at discounted prices.

Peacock said: “It’s all about trust. We get a lot of customer data and we tend to find that once customers have bought their first preloved item, they tend to be quite loyal to preloved.

“It’s all about having a great first experience, so technology and personalisation are also really key for us. We are doing lots of work in making sure the customer gets a great experience so they continue coming back and continue thinking about preloved first.”

When asked about greenwashing allegations against high street brands, River Island sustainability lead Rachael Franklin said retailers have to integrate secondhand otherwise they will be left behind.

She said: “In business, I think you’ve got to integrate sustainability into everything that you do now. As a retailer on the high street, we know that the secondhand market is growing faster than the fast-fashion market.

“We know that our customers are now looking at much more diverse areas to either purchase or enjoy their clothes, so you’ve got to integrate rental and secondhand into your current model otherwise you’re going to be left behind.

“Everything is changing and you’ve got to be able to offer your consumers all the different ways that they want to purchase as this evolves.”