NEW YORK (AP) – Alina Clark is about as tired of her pandemic wardrobe as her comfy clothes are stretched and torn.
“I wear four jeans, seven shirts and five sweaters that I wear every week,” said Clark, co-founder of a software development company in Los Angeles. “It’s all I’ve worn for the past two years. My wardrobe and I are suffering from fatigue from COVID. “
A wardrobe purge is underway for some as vaccinations have taken hold, restrictions have been lifted and offices are reopening or finalizing plans to do so. The main beneficiaries: online resale sites and physical donation points, continuing a trend that has been building for several years.
At the Poshmark resale site, orders for handbags and work dresses are up from last year. The same goes for blazers, suit jackets and heels.
Projections show that the trend is strengthening. The second-hand clothing industry is expected to more than double from $ 36 billion to $ 77 billion in 2025, according to a recent report commissioned by second-hand market ThredUP and research firm GlobalData.
Growth is being driven by an influx of new sellers bringing high-quality clothing to market, said James Reinhart, co-founder and CEO of ThredUP. He estimates that 9 billion barely worn clothes can be found in buyers’ closets.
Even before COVID, buying and selling second-hand clothing was popular, but the pandemic has made the appetite for savings even more appealing.
The post-pandemic shopper is more environmentally conscious and shows a greater appetite for clothes that have good resale value, rather than disposable fast fashion, said Reinhart. People who haven’t been able to wear most of their wardrobe items in a year are more aware of waste and want their clothes back into circulation.
“There is a new mindset around clothing consumption,” Reinhart said. “It’s not what to buy, wear, throw away. There is this realization that occurred during the pandemic where people were much more sensitive to this notion of waste. “
Maia DiDomenico’s mother introduced her to ThredUp during the pandemic. A recent college graduate who started a new job working with children with autism, the 23-year-old from Cranford, New Jersey, purged some Athleta sportswear at the site and received $ 557.60 in Athleta gift cards. in exchange.
“It cleans your wardrobe quickly and you have the option to donate unwanted clothes,” she said.
For months, Clark, 29, has been wanting to declutter her overflowing wardrobe, and she started stacking donation clothes several weeks ago. But she will buy new clothes.
She’s on the hunt for “glitz and glamor” as her Zoom life soon comes to an end and physical encounters have begun.
Consumers are serving more than their worn out pandemic clothing.
On luxury resale site TheRealReal, with more than 22 million members, the total value of used goods sold this year through May was around $ 239 million, up 53% from the previous year. same period in 2019, said Julie Wainwright, founder and CEO.
Some take the opportunity to reinvent their personal style, said Jessica Richards, trend forecaster and fashion director for the Accessories Council, a non-profit business group.
“We’ve seen many consumers abandon their mindless buying habits and instead focus on wrapping up investments. Less being “sick” of their pandemic wardrobes but more of wondering why they could own so many or how wide their wardrobes are, ”she said. “Now it’s about streamlining and focusing on what their desired personal style image should be. “
Not everyone is looking to ditch their COVID style, however.
In Lynchburg, Va., Cameron Howe, 33, is set to burn just about anything she’s worn during the pandemic – except for her impressive collection of leggings – as she leaves a school career.
“I bought 15-20 pairs of leggings and more,” she said. “In a few weeks, I will start a new career as a project manager for a local association. I plan to wear leggings to work. Fortunately, my old and new employer are both in favor of leggings. I don’t really want to wear real pants anymore. I developed an absolute love for leggings during the pandemic. “
Among those profiting from the clothing pandemic awakening are dry cleaners.
Tom Ryan, vice president of franchise for CD One Price Cleaners, with 34 locations in the Chicago area, said they saw an increase in the number of dry cleaning customers after an 80% drop during the pandemic .
“In March, we started to make progress again considering the distribution of vaccines,” he said. “As more and more people return to work, we’re finally starting to see more and more people bringing their office clothes back for professional cleaning. Nonetheless, we expect post-pandemic clothing and fashion trends to be different in the future with more people in the office less often. “
Ryan expects business casual to be more of the new normal – replacing button-down shirts with more polo-style clothing.
While piles of pandemic clothes go to churches, donation boxes, and online thrift and resale sites, some people keep them in the family.
Samantina Zeon, like many, gained weight during the pandemic. She has a lot of beautiful clothes that she can’t fit in anymore, so she plans to send the fanciest ones to a cousin in Haiti in a 77 gallon blue barrel.
“It’s something that a lot of people who have families in different countries do. I’ve done it before to send food, ”said Zeon, 31, in Queens, New York. “She plans to sell them back in her neighborhood for extra money.”
Associated Press retail writer Anne D’Innocenzio in New York City contributed to this report.