Interest in online fast fashion plummets as shoppers look for second-hand alternatives and return to the high street, analysis shows

New data has revealed that UK shoppers are turning away from well-known online fast fashion brands, long criticised for their lack of sustainability, in favour of independent brands and second-hand retailers.

The volume of brand searches for second hand clothing retailer Preworn soared by 344%, while resale marketplace Vinted jumped 62% over the past six months. Meanwhile searches for Vestiaire Collective, increased by 17%. This shows that one of the big success stories for online activity, especially with costs of living skyrocketing, has been second-hand or ‘pre-loved’ clothes as they are often known.

Over the same period, online brand searches for fast fashion giant ‘Topshop’, now sold on ASOS, more than halved (down by 60%), with a 45% drop in searches for ‘Misspap’. ‘Missguided’, which has just been bought by Frasers Group after falling into administration, saw search volumes for its name drop by a fifth (21%) since the start of 2022.

Other winners since the start of 2022 were independent fashion brands: searches for partywear label ‘Lavish Alice’ soared by 182%, with search volumes also rising for ‘Never Fully Dressed’ (up 72%) and ‘Revolve’ (up 71%).

Meanwhile, it’s more of a mixed bag for designer fashion. Some names have seen a surge in interest (searches for ‘Coach’ were up 28% and ‘Net-a-Porter’ up by 23%), while others are seeing online activity fall – searches for ‘Agent Provocateur’ were down 22% and ‘Brand Alley’ down by 36%.

The analysis was carried out by online search expert MediaVision, using its proprietary Digital Demand Tracker tool that analyses search data from AdWords and Google Trends.

It also found a significant increase in search activity for those brands with a high street presence, as UK shoppers returned to malls and city centres post-pandemic. Searches for ‘Moss Bros’ were up 127%, again suggesting shoppers are once more looking for partywear, while searches for ‘Dune’ doubled (up 100%) and those for ‘Phase Eight’ were up by 81%.

Louis Venter, CEO at MediaVision, comments: “The world of fashion is changing, as seen by eBay’s sponsorship of ITV favourite Love Island. Sustainability and cost are pushing shoppers towards second-hand resellers in 2022’s ‘Summer of Pre-Love’.

“The losers in this shift are the big names of fast fashion. For years many people have commented negatively on the impact disposable fashion has on the world around us, and now it looks like consumers are voting with their search bars and wallets.”

He adds: “Growth has been focused on those fashion brands that have been receptive to what their customers want, have targeted that audience accordingly – whether through search, social or in store, and have delivered on their promises. Others have seen revenue plummet.

“It’s no longer enough to rely on sales, discounts or unwavering customer loyalty as customers are faced with so much choice on where they spend. Sustainability is going to be one of the watchwords of the fashion industry from now on.”