Millennial 'NOwners' follow Uber with new fashion trading model

Thu May 28, 2015 1:21am EDT
 
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By Jilian Mincer

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Allison Armour loves fashion, but doesn't need to keep it in her closet.

The 24-year-old frequents privately-held chain Crossroads Trading Co, where she buys brand-name goods secondhand at a discount, then sells the items back when she wants to refresh her look.

Armour, a marketing manager for a nonprofit in Oakland, California, has picked up skirts and shirts, Oxford shoes for $30, a J.Crew trench coat for $40 and a Dooney & Bourke satchel for $150, less than half its retail price. "When I get tired of certain things, I put them aside and sell them back," she said.

For Millennials – the roughly 77 million Americans born between about 1980 and 2000 - the allure of "no ownership" is moving beyond housing and cars.

A new industry based on sharing or renting clothing, electronics and small appliances is springing up from nothing about five years ago, posing a disruptive force to traditional retailers.

Battered by student loan debt and the Great Recession, Millennials place less emphasis on owning and more on sharing, bartering and trading to access coveted goods. These behaviors have propelled businesses such as car rental service Zipcar, taxi service Uber and home rental site Airbnb.

What Millennials do buy, and keep, is their smartphones. About 85 percent of people aged 18 to 34 own them, according to Nielsen research, and the devices are the doorway to the sharing economy.

Now these "NOwners," as Jamie Gutfreund, chief marketing officer for Deep Focus, calls them, are propelling a new wave of privately-held companies such as children's resale marketplaces Kidizen and Yerdle, which allow customers to swap or buy smaller-ticket items like used clothes and household goods. Deep Focus does market research on youth trends.   Continued...

 
Alexis Rutledge shops for clothes at Crossroads Trading Company, which buys and sells used clothing, in San Francisco, California May 26, 2015. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith