8 min

Fast fashion: moving towards a second-hand stitch-up?

Despite a strong and acknowledged awareness of the climate and ecological urgency, Generation Z still succumbs to the allure of fast fashion.

With the rise of second-hand fashion, vintage is in demand, and prices have increased. Good deals on used items are becoming scarcer, while Shein continues to release new collections every day at highly competitive prices.

  • Is second-hand fashion an alternative to fast fashion?
  • Does second-hand fast fashion still count as fast fashion?
  • What are the most sold clothing brands on Vinted?
  • What are the market shares of Zara, Shein, and H&M in 2023?


Why does Shein continue to gain market share despite ecological awareness?

Escaping ultra-fast fashion with declining purchasing power is not an option for everyone.

Brands like Shein, Temu, and SaraMart have understood this: economic crisis and reduced purchasing power favor marketplaces with very (very low prices). They offer consumers the opportunity to indulge at lower prices.


Market Shares of Shein, Zara, H&M

The three giants of ultra-fast fashion have ventured into the realm of second-hand fashion. This is a recent shift for Shein and Zara but has been in place for several years for H&M.

However, in France, H&M’s market share decreased by 4 points between 2022 and 2023 (YTD), and Shein’s decreased by 0.7 points. The French are turning away from Shein and H&M in favor of Zara, whose influence in ultra-fast fashion has increased by nearly 5 points between 2022 and 2023.

➡️ Stay tuned for an analysis of Zara’s market share development following the launch of its second-hand platform.

Across the Channel, the opposite is happening. Zara has lost market share to Shein. Between 2021 and 2023, the brand gained a 12.7% market share.


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Second-Hand Fashion and Fast Fashion: Zara's Unexpected Move

Zara Pre-Owned is the name of Zara’s second-hand platform. The brand from the Inditex group initially tested the concept in the UK in the first half of 2023. It was a success, which prompted the brand to expand to France in September last year. Soon, Germans and Spaniards will also be able to purchase discounted Zara items directly on the brand’s website.

To distinguish itself from its competitors, Zara offers two complementary services:

  • Clothing repair service
  • The option to donate clothing that is no longer worn

The brand has launched its second-hand offering without any risk. On Vinted, Zara is the second most sold brand in France and the third most sold in the UK.


Second-Hand Fashion and Fast Fashion: An Unexpected Meeting

Initially, Petit Bateau – one of the pioneers of second-hand fashion

Petit Bateau ventured into second-hand fashion because the clothes created by the brand are durable and have been passed down from hand to hand for generations. High-quality, highly durable clothes for children who wear them for only a few months?

In response to the “issue” of clothes lasting a long time while children grow, the brand opted for:

  • A second-hand section on its website
  • A clothing rental offering

For Petit Bateau, second-hand fashion was a necessity.

But what about Shein?

Do clothing items sold for less than €5 with planned obsolescence get resold second-hand? The answer is yes.

The ultra-fast fashion brand launched its second-hand site in the United States: Shein Exchange. Meanwhile, Vestiaire Collective decided to ban fast fashion brands from its platform. Fast fashion and second-hand fashion are inherently contradictory.

Fast fashion and ultra-fast fashion are synonymous with large-scale production, nearly disposable clothing, overconsumption, ecological absurdity, not to mention labor conditions.

Second-hand fashion, on the other hand, aims to reduce the environmental impact of the textile industry, promote a circular economy, and reduce the quantity of new products introduced to the market. After all, the least polluting garment is the one that is not produced. The second-hand market aims to transform the fashion industry and consumers’ relationship with clothing.

If the launch of Shein Exchange sparked strong reactions and the brand was accused of greenwashing, it’s because second-hand fast fashion remains fast fashion.

Does second-hand fashion encourage overconsumption?

Second-hand fashion promotes a shopping logic.

On Vinted, the virtual wallet encourages and facilitates impulsive buying. With a few clicks, you can sell a piece of clothing, receive the money from the sale, and immediately spend it on a piece of clothing that you will ultimately wear very little. The act of buying has become commonplace because, at worst, if you don’t wear it, the item can easily be resold.

Key takeaways

  • Shein continues to gain market share in the UK, while the French prefer Zara.
  • Zara is the second most sold brand on Vinted in France and the third most sold in the UK.
  • Zara is launching its second-hand platform in France.


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