By Andrew Jennings OBE, Global Senior Retail Advisor


Previously Loved is becoming a trend across fashion and homeware and appears to be building by the day. This trend is more than a passing fad. Over the latter five years there has been a fast-emerging “sea change” of second-hand merchandise. Quality pieces, often from well- known brands and designers, can be purchased at a fraction of the cost. In today’s rapidly evolving consumer landscape the need for sustainable eco-conscious practices has become more apparent than ever before.


Selling previously loved merchandise is gaining momentum as demand increases in mainstream retail such as Selfridges, M&S, Liberty, Urban Outfitters and many others – there are retailers out there exploring their offering either in bricks and mortar or online. Embracing the value of previously loved items represents a fundamental shift towards fostering a more sustainable retail industry. By encouraging the circulation of pre-owned goods, we not only reduce waste but also cater to a growing market demand for ethical and environmentally friendly products.


There is evidence that up to 25% of UK consumers plan to buy previously loved clothing as a credible alternative to buying new. Customers no longer see a stigma in purchasing second hand clothes – quite the reverse – is perceived as “cool and fashionable”. As the customers “purse strings become tighter”, I believe that this trend will increase with enthusiasm and clearly Gen Z are keen supporters. All of this appears to be part of many retailers’ merchandise strategy however they need to be aware that Charity stores across the UK are taking a more professional approach to selling products. Charity stores are starting to implement merchandising strategies to emulate the ambience and layout of retail outlets thereby enhancing the shopping experience for customers so that the customer can see “the wood for the trees”.


The economic benefits of incorporating previously loved items into retail strategies are potentially significant as they increase profit margins and bolster overall sales. For several years previously loved high end merchandise from Designers such as LVMH, Hermès, Prada and Gucci have made an appearance in luxury stores specifically in handbags and small leather goods. Repair services for these luxury brands are also springing up – the customer is taking a new approach with regards to sustainability and the circular economy

Remember, fashion is timeless and every thread tells a tale.


Columbus Consulting delivers solutions that drive true value and have been transforming the retail and CPG industries for over two decades. We are a retail consulting company of industry experts. Our approach is simple, if you do it, we do it. We are more than consultants; we are experienced practitioners who actually sat in our clients’ seats. We understand the challenges, know what questions to ask and deliver the right solutions. Columbus offers a unique, consumer-centric approach with an end-to-end perspective that bridges functional & organization silos from strategy to execution. Our specialties include: unified commerce, merchandising & category management, planning & inventory management, sourcing & supply chain, data & analytics, accounting, finance & operations, people & organization and information technology. Let us know how we can help you. To learn more, visit COLUMBUSCONSULTING.COM

More About Andrew

In addition to his business credentials, Andrew serves as Chair of The Prince’s Trust Corporate Advisory Board – a charity which has changed the lives of disadvantaged young people in the UK. He was awarded the ‘Grande Officiale al Merito’ by the President of Italy – the highest Italian civilian honour. In 2021 he was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List as Global Retail Advisor for services to International Trade, Fashion and Retail. In July 2022 Andrew was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of the University of Surrey [DUniv] Honoris Causa in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the retail sector and his input and continued support at the Surrey Business School. Andrew’s book “Almost Is Not Good Enough – How to Win and Lose in Retail” published in 2017. For more on Andrew visit here.

Connect with one of our experts