Why is Thrifting, Secondhand So Popular

My first introduction to consignment was a long time ago, back when I was in high school. I won't tell you my age but it has been a while since I graduated…..lol. I was (and still am) really into handbags. Pretty much it was the only thing I would look for in local consignment stores. The mindset I had back then, still applies today, is the amount of savings you could get by purchasing second hand luxury bags. However, it seems as if back then consignment and thrift stores seemed to be synonymous with the myth of having stale old items. Fast forward to now and the mindset of thrifting has changed.I'm still on the same hunt many years later.I still buy accessories from a mixture of sources (retail and secondhand).  Thrifting has taken off recently and so has prices for many designer luxury brands.


Here are some of the reasons I think vintage and designer thrifting is so popular.

You can save a LOT of money

The biggest advantage for secondhand luxury bags, shoes, clothing, etc. are the immediate savings. Typically, these items are priced lower than what you would have paid retail. Now this isn't an absolute guarantee, but more often than not this rule applies. Depending on the item, brand, condition and several other factors you'll see a 30-80% discount from retail. For example, several years ago I fell in love with the Prada Twist Lock Cuir tote retailing for $3100. A few years later it became available on the luxury secondhand market for around $1000. That's over 60% off! Like I mentioned there are a lot factors that play into pricing, but in the simplest terms you can save a lot of money when you let someone else take it for a test drive first.


This point can be argued a couple of ways. For the sake of this blog, I am simply referencing the ability to take possession of an item. While the range of availability changes for many reasons the secondhand market makes luxury more accessible since you are able to acquire at a lower price point. Since I'm not a millionaire…..YET :) I am limited to what I can purchase within a year. Which means if I am still dreaming of that luxury handbag I wanted x years ago  purchasing secondhand is the next option.

Another thought around accessibility for highly coveted items is it makes it easier to acquire them. For example, Hermes Birkin and Kelly bags are insanely expensive and are produced in limited quantities. There's a lot that goes into purchasing one retail and that's another story for a different day. You won't save money in this case, but these popular designer leather bags are more accessible through the resale market. And you don't have to go through all those hoops to be offered a highly coveted Birkin or Kelly.

Quoted from bustle.com "People thrift for different reasons, but they found that the spark happened after the recession in 2008. It's not about just getting a great deal or saving the planet. ThredUp found that 66 percent of thrifters use the tactic to "buy better brands they would otherwise never pay full price for" and that 13 percent of shoppers are actually millionaires."


Thrifted items are unique items

According to Bustle.com Thredup found that 66% of thrifters made the decision to purchase secondhand goods to obtain "better brands they would have otherwise never paid full price for". And another interesting discovery is 13% of shoppers are actually millionaires. I have to say that's no surprise to me and definitely reinforces what I've previously mentioned already.  Many times when you're hunting in brick-and-mortar thrift stores, there's only one version of that item available. You do have more opportunities to find a few versions of the same item when you search online but each item will vary in condition. And that's if you're lucky enough to find the same exact item in the same size. For me it is like a treasure hunt and most of the time you have to act ASAP, otherwise it'll be gone. It will come back but you don't know when. Also, the condition won't be the exact same.   


Stand out in a crowd

Nothing is cooler than pairing a vintage or thrifted item with your current wardrobe. Even though the same style pant or top rolls around again it is something about that older thrifted item from back in the day that adds a subtle unique flair to your ensemble. Now you can also find new items while thrifting too so don't think that just because you're in the thrift store or shopping from an online consignment store you won't find something new! Vintage items are often known for their quality and expert craftsmanship. And you can absolutely see the difference!


There have been countless articles and documentaries highlighting waste, environmental changes, etc. There has been exponential growth in for profit companies with social missions. Personally, it does feel good to put my money towards something I want and know I am doing good at the same time :). Recycling used goods through thrifting and consignment help contribute towards environmental efforts to reduce waste. Some online secondhand thrift retailers found a boost in sales after the 2008 housing market bubble. Vintage shopping and thrifting has been extremely popular with generation Z. Which makes sense since they're at the point in their lives where they are more socially and/or environmentally conscious. One reason why the secondhand market has become so popular in recent years!


Quote from Purseblog.com

“If one in 100 American households shopped resale, they could collectively save over $1.6 billion and 1.1 billion pounds of CO2 emissions annually,” according to an article in Forbes. “By cleaning out their closets, they also could generate $270 million in resale earnings every year, which is enough money to cover a year’s food expenses for over 43,000 families.”


Luxury resale provides consumers with name brand quality while allowing them to save money. Another added benefit is some luxury items, particularly handbags, tend to appreciate over time. For example, classic and iconic designs like Chanel classic flaps, Birkins and some Louis Vuitton styles. Your second hand luxury bag can be more than just a bag, it can be an investment  (not like real investments). If you buy the right style it can be an asset that you keep for years and sell at a higher price or pass down to your loved ones. Resale makes it all possible at less cost to you and our environment.



With many brands increasing production due to demand and rising cost of production there have been differences reported in quality. This topic has come to the forefront in recent years as adoring fans of top fashion houses have voiced concerns about continued price increases while there have been reported differences in quality. It won't take you long to find a thread, dedicated blogs or a luxury YouTuber mentioning the challenges they've had with some of their luxury goods. For example, around 2008 Chanel stopped using hardware dipped in 24K gold. Some devotees to the fashion house have questioned the hardware and quality changes still command several thousand dollars retail. And Chanel is not the only fashion house that has complaints around quality. Now quality is a subjective topic and luxury fashion houses STILL make high quality products. However, many long time collectors that have had the experience of obtaining a vintage item vs. a newer item have reported differences. In my experience, while thrifting I've noticed vintage Coach bags were made with thicker leather than they are now.  While Coach still does make good quality handbags you can see the difference when you compare a vintage bag to a more recent version. 

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Codogirl.com. "Why Millions of Women are Choosing Luxury Resale" https://www.codogirl.com/blogs/news/why-millions-of-women-are-choosing-luxury-resale

Vintage-United.com "Reasons to buy second hand" https://vintage-united.com/reasons-to-buy-preloved-fashion/ 

Bustle.com "Millennials Thrift Shop More Than Any Generation But They Are Also The Most Wasteful"https://www.bustle.com/p/millennials-thrift-shop-more-than-any-generation-but-they-are-also-the-most-wasteful-8689485


Purseblog.com "Eco Friendly The Risk of Secondhand Shopping and the Many Associated Benefits Financial Environmental and Beyondhttps://www.purseblog.com/eco-friendly/the-rise-of-secondhand-shopping-and-the-many-associated-benefits-financial-environmental-and-beyond/