3 Kritische Mythen zu Second Hand & Vintage
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3 Critical Myths About Second Hand & Vintage

von Hannes Tamme am May 20, 2021 | Lesezeit:

We keep hearing rumors about the sale of second-hand clothing. In the following we would like to explain the three most frequently encountered:

1. The second hand mainstream takes clothes away from those in need.

We actually encounter this myth more often and can even be resolved from several sides. For one thing, there is the sheer size of the second-hand market: in Germany alone, over 1,000,000 tons of used clothes are produced every year, 54% of which can be recycled in their original form. This means that they can be sold or donated directly without further processing. (1)

In the more affluent economic west, however, there is no corresponding sales market, which is why a large amount of this clothing has to be exported or ultimately used in some other way. (2) The amount of second-hand clothing that is in is also currently increasing sharply due to shorter wearing times and increased consumption. The size of the market alone does not mean there is competition for clothing.

In addition to this oversupply of clothing, there is also the fact that social department stores obtain their clothing from other sources than the classic secondary market does - most of the clothing available there comes from private donation collections or from pre-sorting of the DRK collections or the like. (3)

Then there is another trend that contradicts this myth: Fast fashion providers such as Primark can buy a new T-shirt for a price of € 2.30, since even most social department stores keep them at cost unfortunately no longer with. The second-hand shop as a contact point for those in need has already been largely replaced by the global business chains of the fast fashion industry. (4)

2. How should second-hand work without new goods?

In order to be able to offer worn clothes, don't you have to produce new clothes? This question sounds very logical at first, but on closer inspection it is no longer so relevant. With the clothes that are currently in circulation, every person on earth could wear a new piece of clothing every day for 5 years. (5)

Of course, this amount will also be exhausted at some point, but new goods are not just new goods. With sustainable, long-lasting clothing production, a significantly longer second-hand career for clothing could emerge and the relevance of new goods would decrease even further. Decreasing quality has halved the length of time clothing has been worn in Germany in the last 15 years (2), and second-hand and second-hand new goods would be able to reverse this trend.

3. Second-hand is always cheaper than new.

Since second-hand goods were already owned before, they should, as expected, be cheaper in the second trading cycle. In fact, we don't want to contradict this assumption in general, but we have to look at it in a more differentiated manner in our actions. Let's compare, for example, the aforementioned Primark T-shirt with a T-shirt in our online shop: For such a T-shirt we already pay more when we buy it than Primark would like to have when we sell it. In addition, for us, all the pieces that are sold by us are unique. So every piece of clothing has to go through a classification, measurement and ironing / washing process, which means a significantly higher expenditure of time and therefore additional costs. A comparable T-shirt would already cost many times the Primark retail price at our expense price alone.

However, vintage pieces are usually of a significantly higher quality than comparable new items of clothing, as materials and manufacturing processes have only developed in favor of fast fashion and lower prices in recent years


(1) https://www.bvse.de/themen/geschichte-des-textilrecycling/zahlen-zur-sammlung-und-verendung-von-altkleidern.html

(2) https://greenwire.greenpeace.de/system/files/2019-04/s01951_greenpeace_report_konsumkollaps_fast_fashion.pdf

(3) https://www.drk.de/spenden/spenderservice/spendentransparenz-spenderservice/kleidersammlung/

(4) https://www.welt.de/icon/mode/article230737971/Secondhand-wird-Luxus-was-ist-so-schlimm-daran.html

(5) https://www.commonobjective.co/article/volume-and-consumption-how-much-does-the-world-buy .

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