Culture & Leisure

New Fashion Trend: Generation Z Promotes The Rise of Second-hand Market

Nearly 30 people crowded in a 200 feet factory building units for buying clothes. Ms Athena Lau Ka Yi, an 18 years old secondary student, was holding four to five pieces of clothes in her hand, still looking for more items. Many young girls shuttled between the clothing rack, eager to hunt for treasure among the pile of clothes.

In the crowded space, a secondhand clothing weekend market was organised, attracted many young girls, mainly 15 to 23 years old. There were over hundreds of clothes in the market. They all looked new, but were actually second-hand. Clothes were divided into different styles which all looked young and fresh, particularly targeting young customers.

"It is so fun to shop here," Lau said, "whenever I find clothes I love, it feels like a treasure hunt."

Lau enjoyed her secondhand shopping in this market so much, as the price was very affordable while quality was good. Most of them ranged from HK$50 to HK$100, some were only HK$30.

"Lifexit" is the organiser of this secondhand clothing weekend market, who collaborated with three online secondhand shops, "Retrovert", "Asian Angel" and "Chan4room". Ms Coco Lam started up Lifexit to provide a space for people to relax and enjoy their peaceful moment. It locates at an industrial building unit in Kwun Tong, provides space to organise all kinds of activities.

Secondhand clothing weekend market is a new try.

"As I can see the secondhand clothing trend growing among young people nowadays, and the message behind buying secondhand is meaningful," Lam said, "that's why I organised this weekend market." She hoped, through this market, more people can get to know more about secondhand clothing culture in Hong Kong.

Secondhand fashion trend is growing globally and rapidly. ThredUP, one of the largest consignment and thrift stores in the world, indicated in their report that the online secondhand clothing market grew for 69% from 2019 to 2021, despite the overall economic downturn. In 2019, the secondhand resale business grew 25 times faster than retail stores.

"People are actually having more awareness of secondhand clothing nowadays compared to a few years ago," Ms Tiffany Wong Nga-yung, owner of "Retrovert", one of the online shops that joined the weekend market, said.

Wong started up "Retrovert" a year ago, mainly selling Korean-Japanese fashion style secondhand clothing. Based on her observation, more secondhand clothing stores spring up in Hong Kong nowadays, especially online stores.

"There are two main reasons pushing people to buy secondhand clothes these days," Wong said, "economic factors are definitely one." She explained that the price of secondhand clothing is usually a lot cheaper than the original. "People can buy designer brands at a relatively affordable price, which is a good option for fashion lovers," Wong added.

Wong continued that many people actually know that fashion is the second polluting industry in the world. She believed people are getting more conscious about ethics and sustainability in terms of consumption, "so, secondhand clothing is an alternative for them to boycott the fast fashion trend," the owner believed.

Generation Z becomes the major customer of secondhand fashion, who are driving the secondhand market trend. According to thredUP investigation, 80% of Gen Zs, aged 23 or below, say that they have no stigma associated with buying used fashion. 90% of this age group are open to buying secondhand, especially when "money gets tight".

Lau, enjoyed participating in this environmentally sustainable shopping habit a lot, and even encouraged her friends to do so. She believed the concept of "sustainability" has been prompting her in buying secondhand clothes. 

"As a consumer, we are paying our responsibility to continue the cycle of clothing," Lau said, "watching lots of clothes going to the landfill is a huge waste."

More people showed concern about "fashion sustainability" in recent years. A report, "The Year of Fashion", by Lyst, a global fashion search platform, revealed that searches including sustainability-related keywords have increased for 75% in 2019, with average 27000 searches every month. Alongside, searches for specific sustainable material showed a significant increase.

Secondhand fashion has grown as a more popular global trend these days, especially among teenagers and young adults.

Wong predicted that more people will engage in the secondhand clothing community in the near future. "At least half of the Gen Zs would consider buying secondhand clothing," she said.

《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) is an English news publication produced by international journalism students at Hong Kong Baptist University. It started as a printed magazine in 1969. Today, TYR is produced across different platforms.

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