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More than half of young shoppers buy second-hand clothes

More than half of 25-to-34-year-olds buy second-hand clothes, and half have repaired damaged or worn-out clothes, new data published by Mintel shows.

Young Britains are also turning their used clothing into cash, the report reveals. Half of 25-to-34-year-olds have sold old clothes in the last year, compared with 35% of consumers as a whole.

“Swishing” – or the act of swapping clothes with friends or acquaintances – is also a growing trend, Mintel said. Three-quarters of 16-to-24-year-olds say they either have swapped fashion items with others or would be interested in doing so in the future.

The 16-to-24-year-old age bracket was also most likely to use rental services, with 54% saying they have rented or would be interested in renting fashion items, compared with an average of 33% of the wider population.

Chana Baram, Mintel retail analyst, said: “The idea of ‘re-using, reducing and recycling’ has the potential to be a big disruptor in the fashion industry. Young shoppers seem to be emulating their grandparents, who were forced to ‘make do and mend’ during World War II. As the climate crisis continues to gain headlines, consumers’ perspectives are shifting. It’s no longer enough for clothing to be priced well, or to reference the latest trends; fashion brands and retailers also have to think about working towards a goal of providing more sustainable options. Many young people today are likely to be influenced by the ‘Attenborough’ or ‘Greta’ effects, and are becoming far more aware of the negative effects fast fashion can have on the environment. As a result, we have seen a real increase in the number of businesses and retailers offering repair services, second-hand items or rental options.”

Overall, 30% of consumers agreed they would choose a retailer based on whether or not they sold sustainable fashion ranges. However, 79% said they find it difficult to know which fashion retailers are ethical. Price is not perceived as an indicator of sustainability, with just 22% agreeing that the more you pay for fashion, the more likely it is to be ethical. However, six in 10 (59%) British shoppers say they would be willing to pay more for sustainable fashion.

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