Fast Fashion Is Thwarting the Resale Industry's Dream of Circularity

As ThredUP and The RealReal look to break even, true circularity remains elusive

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Secondhand shopping is on the rise.

Branded resale, when fashion companies add used items to their inventory, grew by 450% between 2021 and 2023, according to ThredUP, as American Eagle and J.Crew joined over 160 companies in the branded resale game.

Still, the complex logistics of online resale presents both sustainability and profitability challenges.

Two major players in web-powered secondhand, ThredUP and The RealReal, aim to break even in 2024 by fine-tuning their business models. However, questions remain regarding the financial viability of online resale and the category’s ability to counter the culture of fast fashion.



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This story first appeared in the Feb. 20, 2024, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.