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'This old thing?' How the high street is tapping into the pre-loved clothing market

Scoring a second-hand fashion bargain is easier than ever, but how do the picks measure up to the new-in sections?

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Orin Carlin
Content Writer
14 May 2024
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A clothing compliment hits different when the piece was destined for landfill before you swooped in and gave it a new lease of life, right?

Making pre-loved fashion look luxe and covetable is an art form, and equally impressive is having the patience to trawl through the popular resale sites.  

Fashion week guest wearing green coat, cream knee-high boots© Getty
Several high street brands now offer pre-loved sections on their websites

But it appears that bagging a second-hand bargain is officially easier than ever, thanks to online schemes backed by somewhat unexpected champions: some of the biggest names in retail.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of the average Brit's wardrobe is comprised of pre-loved pieces, rising to 34% among those aged between 18 and 34, according to a recent study conducted by the Westfield shopping centre group.

MORE: The best sustainable trainers to add to your footwear repertoire

READ: 5 Sustainable fashion habits that are actually easy to adopt before Earth Day

Fashion week guests wearing vivid colours outside a show © Getty
The hunt for a pre-loved gem is easier than ever

Fast fashion and greenwashing make for hot discourse, but how do these online pre-loved picks measure up in comparison to the new-in sections?

Sustainable credentials have emerged as a major draw, especially among younger consumers, when it comes to brand preference. Perfection is the enemy of progress, and surely any attempt made to encourage a more circular fashion model ought to be welcomed with open arms?

READ: The 9 best London charity shops for designer fashion buys

RELATED: 8 vintage dresses that you need in your spring wardrobe

Hello! Fashion shares the high street brands that are making waves in the pre-loved clothing market:


Spanish retailer Zara is one of the most influential high street fashion brands, with its finger firmly on the trend pulse. Its website's current pre-loved section offers the option to request a repair, donate to local organisations and buy second-hand pieces, pleasingly grouped by colour.


Contemporary Nordic label Arket, renowned for its minimal, affordable-luxe staples, is another of those which has entered the pre-loved market. The Arket Archive offers the option to both buy and sell, and the nearly 200 pre-loved picks span from of-the-moment jean silhouettes to timeless linen shirts.

Urban Outfitters

Gen Z-approved boho high street brand Urban Outfitters has Urban Renewal, a curation of thoughtfully sourced vintage, from markets and sellers. The line is divided into four key sections: Vintage, Remade, Remnants and One-of-a-Kind.

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