Nearly two-thirds (62%) of consumers say they are loyal to apparel and retail brands that support green or environmental matters, a new report has found.

GlobalData’s Environmental Issues in Retail & Apparel report unpacks the net zero strategies of major retailers as well as key trends and consumer attitudes towards sustainability across the sector.  

With increased consumer concern for the environment, it identifies key factors shaping the future of the sector, like the growing resale market and an increased focus on circularity. To maintain brand loyalty and meet net-zero targets, retail and apparel brands must adapt to such changes.

The growth of apparel’s resale market

With consumers looking for both more sustainable and budget-friendly options, resale-focused apps like Vinted and Depop are becoming increasingly popular.

The pandemic was key to accelerating the growth of this area, with the resale market growing by 114% to $164.4bn from 2017 to 2022 and increasing by a further 17.2% in 2023.

Macroeconomic factors like persistent high inflation have also contributed to demand for inexpensive apparel, with consumers having reduced discretionary income. GlobalData forecasts this to continue, with the resale market expected to expand a further 36.7% between 2024 and 2027.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

Some retailers are attempting to capitalise on this expanding area. In 2022, fast fashion giant Shein launched a resale platform in the US, for example.

Despite the growth of the resale market, the report highlights that many of the apps focused on it are still reporting losses, with user and seller fees not sufficient to cover their high operational costs.

Resale is also growing elsewhere

While apparel leads the way for resale popularity, it is also growing in other areas of retail. Furniture and sports equipment are becoming increasingly popular resale items due to their durability and potential for reuse.

Consumer-to-consumer platforms such as Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree remain popular alongside charity and antique shops, but newer non-apparel resale platforms are also attempting to take shares of the growing market. Vinterior and Rehaus are two such platforms, specialising in furniture and homeware.

In the sports equipment industry, French sporting goods retailer Decathlon offers a Second Life initiative through which consumers can sell specific products back to it in exchange for store credit, with the products refurbished or repaired for resale. This facilitates a more circular approach to consumption, as well as more equitable availability of sports equipment – especially important in the sports sector, in which equipment can be expensive.

The report notes that some other sectors are less suitable for resale, such as healthcare and beauty due to hygiene and degradability concerns.

Circularity, recycling and reduced waste

Many brands have made an effort to reduce waste and promote circularity by introducing recycling and repair schemes.

Several companies aim to use 100% recycled textiles or plastics to make clothing or plastic-encased electrical items, making this a unique selling point for their products.

Japanese retailer Uniqlo is well known for its Re.Uniqlo Repair Studios, which are available in various stores globally. By replacing zips and repairing holes with Sashiko, a traditional Japanese embroidery that uses ornamental patchwork to create a new look and keep the clothes in circulation for longer. In a similar vein, Levi’s Tailor Shop also strives to enhance the longevity of its products by offering repair services such as patching, hemming and zipper replacements. And, at UK luxury department store Selfridges, The Handbag Clinic offers repair and resale services for luxury shoes and handbags, lengthening the life span of such items.

Brands offering repair services are becoming increasingly common, helping to strengthen loyalty and attract new consumers. At high price points in particular, consumers may be more likely to spend if they know items can be repaired.