Thriving Second-hand Market in China: Opportunities And Challenges

China’s second-hand fashion market is experiencing rapid growth and is attracting the attention of fashion brands and insiders. As Generation Z becomes more eco-conscious and increasingly chooses sustainable fashion, this sector presents significant business potential.

However, challenges such as counterfeit goods and consumer perceptions still loom large. In this blog post, we will explore how China’s thriving second-hand clothing market is transforming the landscape of the global fashion industry while navigating various obstacles along the way.

The Growing Second-hand Clothing Market In China

Younger Chinese consumers are driving the growth of the secondhand clothing market as they increasingly accept used goods, presenting opportunities for a thriving industry.

Increasing Acceptance Of Second-hand Products

The growing second-hand clothing market in China indicates a change in consumer mindset, with a growing awareness and acceptance of preowned products. This shift is due to various factors, including the rise in sustainable fashion awareness and the environmental impact of fast fashion.

Young consumers have played a significant role in propelling this change in mindset towards second-hand goods, especially within the fashion industry. Chinese millennials and Gen Z shoppers have begun to appreciate trendy styles at affordable prices that they can find within resale platforms without sacrificing quality or style for cost savings.

Western markets seem to have perceived higher economic and hedonic values from purchasing used clothing than their Chinese counterparts previously due to cultural differences.

Fashion brands should take note of these trends driving China’s thriving secondhand economy by considering strategies like upcycling old garments or partnering with popular online resale shops attracting an increasingly eco-conscious demographic.

Younger Consumers Propelling The Market

China’s booming second-hand clothing market owes much of its growth to younger consumers. These environmentally conscious and socially responsible individuals are passionate about sustainable living and equally concerned with their personal image, making it crucial to acknowledge their role in driving the market’s expansion.

The increasing acceptance of second-hand products among Chinese millennials and Gen Zers is primarily due to their strong desire for unique styles, cost-effectiveness, and maintaining a circular economy.


For instance, young shoppers utilize online e-commerce like Xianyu or Plum where they can trade or purchase gently used apparel at lower prices without compromising on the luxury brands’ quality.

The second-hand trend is growing in China due to the Covid-19 crisis, and Xianyu is a popular Chinese app that offers a platform for second-hand product purchasing to the 75.5 million users of Taobao, Alibaba’s e-commerce website.

Sales are expected to reach almost 3 trillion yuan in 2025, according to a report by Frost & Sullivan and the Institute of Energy, Environment and Economy at Tsinghua University released last year.

Opportunities For Thriving Second-hand Fashion Industry

The growing acceptance of buying second-hand goods among Chinese consumers presents a valuable opportunity for the thriving used clothing market. As the younger generation, particularly Gen Z, begins to propel this marketplace forward with their eco-conscious and sustainable fashion choices, brands can seize upon the potential for tremendous growth.

One successful example of tapping into this burgeoning industry is a local Chinese startup that has created an online platform for preowned fast-fashion apparel within WeChat, the nation’s largest social network.

By leveraging key partnerships and integrating innovative technologies, such as AI-powered authentication tools to combat counterfeit luxury goods, companies navigating the secondhand apparel space can also contribute positively towards building a more circular economy in China

Challenges Faced By China’s Second-hand Fashion Market

Counterfeit luxury goods pose a significant risk to China’s second-hand fashion market, and the expansion of the luxury resale market has faced issues.

Risks Of Counterfeit Luxury Goods

Counterfeit luxury goods are a major threat to China’s secondhand fashion market. Fake products are produced by manufacturers who use top brands to deceive customers, which undermines the level of trust in the market.

In 2016, 40% of appraised items were found to be fake, making it difficult to gain wider acceptance. This puts pressure on fashion brands to implement anti-counterfeit measures and work closely with authenticators to protect their reputation from deceptive practices as Hermès did.

Case Study: Fighting Counterfeit Luxury Goods: The Case of Hermès in China

Hermès, who is a French luxury goods manufacturer, has been a target of counterfeiters, who produce fake Hermes products and sell them at a fraction of the cost of the genuine items.

In China, this has led to a decline in the brand’s reputation and sales. The fake products not only hurt the company’s bottom line but also undermine the value of the brand and its reputation for quality and exclusivity.

Hermès has taken several steps to combat the sale of counterfeit products in China. The company has launched a public awareness campaign to educate consumers about the dangers of buying fake products and the importance of purchasing genuine items. Hermès has also worked closely with Chinese authorities to crack down on counterfeiters and shut down illegal production facilities.

Hermès successfully reduced counterfeit products in China and increased sales of genuine items through their public awareness campaign.

Issues With Second-hand Luxury Market Expansion

As fashion brands explore opportunities in China’s second-hand fashion market, it’s essential to be aware of the challenges. One of the major issues is with expanding the secondhand luxury market due to concerns over counterfeit goods.

Many Chinese shoppers are cautious about buying pre-owned luxury items due to fears of purchasing fake products. In fact, the Chinese government has recently implemented stricter regulations on e-commerce platforms to crack down on counterfeit sales.

Secondhand luxury platforms face the challenge of counterfeit products and a limited structure. Reliable sources for high-quality preowned clothing and accessories are scarce due to the lack of dedicated resale platforms. To expand into China’s second-hand fashion market, partnerships, and new structures are needed to address these concerns and provide a streamlined shopping experience for buyers.

Navigating The Opportunities And Challenges In China’s Second-hand Fashion Market

As the second-hand fashion market in China continues to grow, it presents both opportunities and challenges for fashion brands. One opportunity is the chance to tap into the circular economy and promote a sustainable lifestyle.

By encouraging consumers to buy and sell used items, brands can reduce waste and foster a community of conscious shoppers.

However, navigating the second-hand market in China comes with its own set of challenges. The risk of counterfeit luxury goods is a major concern, particularly as luxury resale markets expand.

Luxury brands need to be vigilant about protecting their intellectual property while still embracing this emerging market trend.

Sun Shaqi is a very well-known second-hand fashion influencer in China

We Can Help You Sell Your Second-Hand Products In China’s Market

The growth of China’s secondhand market presents both opportunities and challenges for fashion brands. The increasing acceptance of secondhand products among younger consumers opens up a new avenue for businesses to tap into, while the rising concerns over counterfeit goods in the luxury resale market require careful navigation.

Companies must keep consumer behavior toward sustainable fashion and the circular economy in mind as they explore this emerging market. As China’s fashion industry continues its significant growth, it is important for brands to remain attentive to trends and shifts towards secondhand shopping habits.


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