The Rise of Recommerce: What brands need to know

In the rapidly evolving landscape of the fashion and textiles industry, a transformative trend is taking center stage: recommerce. This practice of buying and selling pre-loved items is ushering in a new era of sustainable and mindful consumer behavior.

We spoke with AFC Patron member, eBay to discuss the growing rise of recommerce as well as the strategies they've employed to solidify their position as the original hub for pre-loved fashion.

During our discussion, we explored the economic and sustainable advantages to recommerce, uncovering key insights that brands should consider before embarking on their resale journey.

The Current State of Recommerce

In recent years, recommerce has surged in popularity, reflecting a significant shift in consumer trends. Pre-loved fashion has transitioned from a niche market to mainstream acceptance, presenting a unique opportunity for brands to align with the evolving values of consumers. 

Research commissioned by eBay Australia revealed that nearly half of Australians (45%)1 surveyed have increased their purchase of pre-loved fashion over the past two years, firmly establishing the mainstream appeal of this sustainable practice. Shoppers are driven by various motivations, including the desire to find unique items while saving money (70%)2, expressing their personal style (55%)3, and supporting the circular economy (40%)4.

eBay, a longstanding player in recommerce, has solidified its position as the original hub for pre-loved fashion. Despite its history, eBay remains forward-thinking, leading through constant innovation. Collaborating with partners like The Volte and making strategic acquisitions (e.g., Certilogo), eBay prioritises staying ahead in recommerce and building trust with consumers and brands alike.

Continual innovation is a priority, with eBay recently launching the Circular Fashion Fund, investing $200,000 in entities advancing fashion circularity. 

1 Lonergan research commissioned by eBay Australia surveying 1,100 Australians 18+. April 2023.
2 Lonergan research commissioned by eBay Australia surveying 1,100 Australians 18+. April 2023.
3 Lonergan research commissioned by eBay Australia surveying 1,100 Australians 18+. April 2023.
4 Lonergan research commissioned by eBay Australia surveying 1,100 Australians 18+. April 2023.

High Demand for Pre-Owned Fashion

Pre-loved fashion items are in high demand in the recommerce market. In 2022, Australian fashion labels, including well-known brands like Zimmermann, Aje and Scanlan Theodore, were so sought after on eBay Australia that they were searched for every two minutes7.

Equally, eBay reported a staggering 16 million pre-owned items were listed in previous years8, and a piece of pre-loved clothing is sold every 30 seconds on eBay9 highlighting the growing appetite for pre-loved fashion.

7 eBay Australia data, 2022
8 eBay internal data, listings 2020 - 2022
9 eBay Australia data, 2022

Benefits of Recommerce Solutions to Brands, Customers, and the Planet

Recommerce presents a win-win scenario for consumers, brands, and the planet:

Brands: With increased purchases and demand for pre-loved fashion, recommerce offers brands the opportunity to generate new revenue streams while tapping into eco-conscious and price-conscious consumers. There is a huge opportunity for brands, with the global secondhand market set to nearly double by 2027, reaching $350 billion, and is expected to grow 3x faster on average than the global apparel market overall, according to a report by thredUP, an online consignment and thrift store10

Customers: Value remains a paramount factor for customers, with 56% of buyers and 64% of Gen Z buyers specifically drawn to the financial savings offered by recommerce11. Beyond cost savings, the appeal lies in the opportunity to experiment with unique styles. Embracing pre-loved clothing aligns with the desire for sustainable practices, allowing consumers to make environmentally conscious fashion choices.

Planet: Recommerce plays a pivotal role in curbing fashion waste, addressing a significant concern as Australians purchase 56 new clothing items annually but wear less than two-thirds of their wardrobe. 

In 2022, the eBay Recommerce market not only generated $4.6 billion in positive economic impact but also prevented 1.6 million metric tons of carbon emissions and 73,000 metric tons of waste12. By actively participating in recommerce, individuals contribute to a more sustainable and circular fashion ecosystem, promoting responsible consumption.

10 ThredUp Resale Report 2023
11 eBay 2022 Recommerce Report
12 eBay 2022 Recommerce Report

Key Considerations for Brands Incorporating Recommerce

Before embarking on a resale program, brands should consider: 

Recommerce is propelling the fashion industry toward a new horizon while serving as a versatile tool for expediting progress toward the just transformation of our industry to a socially, environmentally and economically prosperous one.

Encouraging clothing reuse, recommerce holds significant potential to substantially mitigate fashion's environmental impact, in alignment with the AFC’s clothing circularity by 2030 and Net Zero by 2050 objectives. It empowers both brands and consumers to extend product lifecycles, ultimately reducing waste and minimising resource depletion. 

Last week, eBay Australia, in collaboration with the Australian Fashion Council (AFC), proudly announced Dempstah as the recipient of eBay’s 2024 Circular Fashion Fund, marking a significant stride in advancing circular fashion in Australia, learn more about the 2024 winners here and stay tuned for the announcement of the 2025 eBay Circular Fashion Fund.

Make fashion not waste with Circular Sourcing

Courtney Holm, AFC member and founder of ethical Melbourne-based fashion brand A.BCH, has launched a new platform called Circular Sourcing to help keep Australian surplus fabrics in use and out of landfill.

This online marketplace makes it easy for fashion businesses to sell their leftover fabrics to anyone from micro to small and medium business or even home sewers – extending the longevity of the materials and keeping them out of landfill for longer.

During our discussion, we had the opportunity to explore the driving forces behind Circular Sourcing and the impactful sustainable initiatives that have been implemented within Courtney’s own brand, A.BCH.

Q1: Courtney, congratulations on launching your latest initiative Circular Sourcing. Can you tell us more about it and how it helps to reduce fabric waste in Australia?

Thanks so much! Circular Sourcing is a marketplace that allows Australian businesses (think textile mills, manufacturers and designer labels) to sell their leftover fabric stock in a streamlined way.

Previously there were no convenient or desirable pathways for valuable surplus materials to get re-circulated in Australia and that’s where Circular Sourcing can help. It’s a digital platform for connecting these materials with buyers, whether they are small to medium sized businesses, startups, fashion students or home sewers.

This reduces waste as it is really focussed on keeping materials in their highest use-case, whatever the materials may be. When designers choose to work with surplus fabrics as their first port of call, they are putting less demand on new resources and participating in the circular economy. When sellers list their surplus stock (and we know there's a lot of it) it creates access to some really incredible fabrics that otherwise wouldn’t be available.

Q2: In your experience, what are the key challenges businesses face when it comes to managing fabric waste? How does Circular Sourcing help overcome these challenges?

No matter what the business size, there is almost always some fabric left over after production. For the mills, there’s likely lots of surplus due to the production process and minimum yarn a machine requires to run.

For Australian fashion labels, no matter how well you plan, there is likely some meterage at the end of the roll and if you don’t have enough to do another production run or a material was over-ordered, then leftover materials likely sit there collecting dust.

A lot of businesses have expressed this challenge and each of them on their own cannot make the solution - they simply don't have the time or resources and manual processes or transactions aren't feasible. We need a collaborative approach where we can bring all these materials together, with quantities great and small. We know there's a buyer out there for every quantity and type of fabric, and Circular Sourcing is the platform to facilitate those connections.

Q3: Looking ahead, what are your future goals and aspirations for Circular Sourcing?

Right now we are in a pilot phase and are really focused on making the platform truly excellent for both buyers and sellers, however, we can already see the potential for system-wide changes. 

The platform is built with the long-term goal to de-risk innovation for mills and designers as they clear out their surplus stock and generate additional revenue. We’ll also be able to leverage the data we receive on material flows in the country and this could lead to even greater efficiencies for businesses using our service. This data is also very helpful for recycling the offcuts once a material is finally “used up” as we know exactly what each material is. Finally, over time we hope to incentivise “better material” listings, encouraging a shift from business as usual, pushing for greater innovation and focus from our sellers to source not just for the collection of the moment, but for a future circular economy.

Q4: As the founder of A.BCH, what sustainability initiatives have you implemented in your business and how does A.BCH embraces circularity?

ABCH was founded with the sole purpose of proving circular concepts within fashion, which makes the business pretty unique in its approach.

 We’ve done a lot of work building internal and sharable systems for the circular economy and our products are only released if they can fit into our circular design frameworks. Throughout the years we’ve tested different approaches, and today operate with the following facets of the business:


To find out more about the new Circular Sourcing platform, click here