According to The Asahi Shimbun, there is a booming domestic market for second-hand clothing in Japan as more young consumers embrace cast-offs from yesteryear.
Start Today Co., which operates the Zozotown clothes shopping website, started the website Zozoused in 2012 to buy up and sell used clothing.
Zozoused has proved popular mainly among women in their 30s. Sales on the website came to 900 million yen (US$8.7 million) for the business year ending March 2013, but the figure rose to 8 billion yen for the year ending March 2016.
When users send garments they no longer use in Start Today's bags, company officials decide their prices and the total sum is transferred to their bank accounts.
The dedicated bags are available for free and users do not need to pay shipping charges by themselves.
The purchased clothing is sold through Zozoused. About 600,000 items are constantly available on the website and as many as 10,000 items are added each day.
“We want to establish the practice of reusing old clothing as a well-accepted culture,” said a Start Today official.
In the meantime, Bookoff Corp. set up special counters for its old article buying service Hugall, which is managed by a Bookoff subsidiary, at Mitsukoshi and Takashimaya department stores in 2015.
The move is aimed at expanding the market by handling luxury brand bags and clothes as Bookoff rarely sells such pricey goods.
Three such buying counters have been installed to date. Bookoff officials monthly buy up 60,000 to 70,000 items through the counters or by visiting people who want to sell their cast-offs.
“Even customers who hesitate to drop by pawnshops or shops along streets can easily visit our counters housed in department stores,” said a public relations official, referring to the company’s plan to install more buying counters at department stores.
Pass the Baton recycled goods shops, established by Masamichi Toyama, who is known as the founder of the famous Soup Stock Tokyo soup restaurants, are working to attract fashion-minded customers with their “fashionable” interior.
There are three Pass the Baton outlets in Tokyo’s Omotesando district and the Gion district in Kyoto as well as elsewhere, and their shelves are lined with unique accessories and clothes to boast a boutique-like atmosphere.
More than 20,000 original and used items are available at those shops and proceeds from the sales of secondhand clothes are split 50-50 between store operators and those who originally owned them.
Meanwhile, an apparel company released a unique service that combines clothing rental and cast-off sales.
Major apparel firm Stripe International Inc., based in Okayama, began a new service, Mechakari, in autumn 2015 that allows users to lease as many new garments as they want through a smartphone app in exchange for a monthly fee of about 6,000 yen.
The rental clothes are not only leased to customers but finally sold as cast-offs.
“We want young consumers to try various fashion goods at cheaper prices so that they will purchase our products in the future,” said a Stripe International public relations official.
Stimulated primarily by younger customers, the market for second-hand articles has been gradually growing.
According to an estimate by the Environment Ministry, sales of preowned goods, including home appliances and books but excluding automobiles or motorcycles, rose from 1.027 trillion yen for 2012 to 1.058 trillion yen in 2015.
A survey conducted in 2015 showed only 23.7 percent of people aged 60 or older had bought at least one used article over the previous year, while 41.9 percent of people in their teens and 20s had purchased one or more second-hand items during the period.
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