By Jane Kisselev
Faculty Mentor: Dan Wolfe
This study provides an in-depth look at the growth of the secondhand clothing market. By understanding the market trends, the research determines both positive and negative societal implications. After first establishing the trend, its three main causes are explored: generational, economical, and stylistic consumer preferences. The study uses a literature review with a particular focus on the local Fredericksburg community, surveying UMW students and a local consignment business. While both studies supported the hypothesis that the secondhand clothing market is growing, the student survey generalizes that the trend is driven by financial and generational causes. College students value lower prices of secondhand clothing the most, and are more likely to thrift if it is accepted in their social circles. Once the market trend is supported and accepted, the study analyzes its environmental, economic, and social benefits. While the practice is proven to be a sustainable, low-cost alternative to fast fashion, excessive popularity of secondhand clothes shopping has ethical considerations. Rising secondhand store prices have adverse effects on low-income communities, contributing to gentrification and labor exploitation. It ultimately warns against consumer overconsumption. While shopping secondhand has many positive benefits, decreasing the quantity of clothing circulation reduces waste generation and resource usage.