Second-hand is the new black

The Connexion examines the reasons for the rising popularity of second-hand clothing in France – where personal jumble sale parties are the next big thing... and can sell-out in minutes

29 May 2019
By Jane Hanks

People are increasingly buying second-hand clothes rather than new from the High Street.

Figures from the Institut Français de la Mode show there was a 2.9% decrease in sales of new clothes in 2018, and that there has been a 15% overall loss in value in the clothing market since 2007.

A study carried out for the Institute found that 44% of those questioned said they bought fewer clothes in 2018. Of those, 60% said this was because of budget constraints and 40% said they wanted to buy less but better for ecological and ethical reasons.

Meanwhile the second-hand clothes market is booming, with sites such as Leboncoin and Vinted part of a market said to be worth €1billion.

Free Troc Parties are another way of getting rid of clothes and objects you no longer need and picking up something you fancy, but with absolutely no exchange of money.

It is a concept that was started by a woman in Paris 11 years ago, and is now so popular that when she holds a Free Troc Party, reservations for the limited places are taken within minutes.

The last one was publicised as a Giant Free Troc Party in March, with three 90-minute sessions for 200 people on each occasion, which meant 600 were able to take part.

“We started exchanging clothes between friends,” explained founder Myriam Attias. “Then, when I started my paris-friendly.fr website with cheap ways of having a good time in the capital, I decided to launch it as an idea on the website and it was immediately popular.

“Sometimes it takes just two minutes for all the places to be taken.”

She says most participants are young women aged between 25 and 35, who come for a number of reasons.

Mrs Attias said: “Lots of people just don’t know what to do with clothes they no longer wear as they feel it is a waste for them to be thrown away or recycled so they are just happy to see them have a second life.

“It is also a good chance to pick up something different to wear for themselves. It has become a real trend in the past few years, particularly with people’s desire to be more ecological and ethical.”

Each participant has to bring at least one item to exchange and Mrs Attias said they are left with very few items at the end of each session.

They always manage to find a room loaned to them for free, so there are absolutely no costs involved.

At present the concept is mostly to be found in Paris, but Mrs Attias says she thinks there will soon be Free Troc Parties in most parts of France: “Since my events have been publicised in the press, I have had enquiries from all over the country with people asking for advice on how to run one themselves.”

There is likely to be no lack of clothes to exchange.

A study by Novethic, which advises businesses on how to be green, found 93% of items in our wardrobes have not been worn for a year and most are only ever worn a maximum of 10 times.

The equivalent of one dustbin lorry load of clothes is thrown away every second.

The Zero Waste association is encouraging people to swap or buy second hand with their Buy Nothing New Rien de Neuf challenge. Last year 14,000 signed up. This year they are aiming for 100,000 participants.

There is also the 10x10 challenge, where you are encouraged to mix and match 10 articles of clothing for 10 days so you can look different every day but with the minimum of clothing.

It was started by Canadian stylist Lee Vosburgh on her blog Style Bee, which has spread round the world. Finding ways to look good without buying is the new way to be fashionable.

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