Secondhand clothing is the next big disruptor. If you're one of the people saying that, here's some advice: stop. You're late to the game. It's not the "next big disruptor," it's ALREADY the big disruptor and remains the big disruptor in fashion retail.
Here's some more free business advice: if you want to make some quick, easy money and you don't have a lot of capital but you do have a good eye for style, some time and patience, and are resourceful, then flipping clothing is one of your best bets. If you're buying something new, consider its resale value before making that purchase and then sign up for an account on Depop or Poshmark when you're ready to sell it.
Secondhand apparel, offline and online, is an $18 billion industry and forecast to grow by about 11% per year and become a $33 billion industry by 2021. In a world where apparel sales are declining for the big retailers, that's huge growth in market share. The training that retailers have given consumers is to shop only when the price is reduced has also helped power the growth in secondhand -- 94% of consumers say they rarely buy clothing that's not reduced in price. (Forbes)
According to a 2017 study done by thredUP, an online clothing reseller, the secondhand customer is not what you typically picture as the thrift store consumer, down on their luck. The shoppers with the highest likelihood to shop secondhand are those with incomes above $125,000. Seventy-seven percent of thredUP's customers are working professionals and 71% own their own home.
So why is this happening? It's a combination of the return of shopping as entertainment (back in the 80s, shopping as a form of entertainment happened at the mall; now it's happening online or in thrift stores), a desire to save money, and social and environmental consciousness. Since I'm a fan of supporting local and minority-owned businesses, I've been doing almost all of my thrifting at A Day N June in Baltimore.
How do you do it? The best advice I can give you if you're interested in getting started in flipping is to think like a thrift store owner: stay away from run of the mill items. Nobody cares about a plain black Ralph Lauren polo shirt but you will get a lot of interested buyers if you can get your hands on some 90s Polo Bear gear. Nikes will always be moneymakers. And Supreme gear is basically like having an ATM sitting in your closet. When it comes to womenswear, the holy grail will always be designer handbags, accessories and apparel like Gucci and Chanel but since those are hard to come by, it's easier to find unique pieces and then styling them up to help people envision how they can actually wear it.