There’s a subtle consumer paradigm wedged between the bastions of designer exclusivity and fast fashion consumerism. Initially driven by millennials in pursuit of accessible labels, and now a growing movement towards eco-friendly practices, buying pre-owned luxury goods has become a global phenomenon.

In 2018, Reuters reported that “Second-hand fashion, once confined to thrift stores, is outstripping sales growth in the primary luxury goods sector” by 400%. The estimated worth of $25b unequivocally proves that the stigma attached to the secondhand luxury goods market is evaporating. While established brands initially regarded pre-owned as the country cousin, they’d be remiss in gaining a share hold in such a lucrative market. In 2017, Stella McCartney collaborated with an American resale company by offering consumers a $100 credit for consigning her goods on their website. In so doing, she increased circular foot traffic for her own brand and simultaneously instilled confidence in the secondary market.

The defining moment when mindful consumption became the new black is undocumented. However, it’s undeniable that The Fashion Revolution, dedicated to ethical garment production, is a major contributor to buying consciously. This global movement was born of The True Cost of Fashion, the 2015 documentary by Andrew Morgan which brought to light the devastating effects of fast fashion on the environment and disregard for human life.

An alternate theory is the dichotomy of consumers buying too much versus retailers selling too little. Our wardrobes are stuffed with nothing to wear while brands like Burberry had their wrists slapped for burning unsold goods to the value of $34.6m as at the end of 2018. Volume has kicked discernment to the curb.

Fortunately, the subtle consumer shift towards greenhouse reduction is gaining traction. Veganism has highlighted the plight of abused animals, climate change is destroying entire communities, the war on ocean waste plastic is relentless, and Namaste is a greeting as firmly entrenched into the South African vocabulary as Howzit. 

One way or another, we cannot deny that the marriage of carbon neutrality to financial prosperity has made consciousness cool again.

How do all these fancy words benefit us, perched at the bottom of Africa? 

In essence; choice! Quality connoisseurs may now enjoy the luxury of choosing to shop from any international designer without having to cross the equator. We may find that limited edition Louis Vuitton or elusive Hermes Birkin. From timeless Chanel to trendy Gucci, SouthAfricans have the opportunity to add that dream brand to their sartorial arsenal without the guilt of environmental assault. And without that offensive stigma called hand-me-down.

Pre-owned luxury doesn’t solely allow VIP access to designer brands; we ain’t just going it for the ’gram. It’s also about living a conscious lifestyle, stylishly.