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The Economics of a Woman’s Closet

My wife, Shreya, and I just had our first child - a baby girl, Ava. And as Shreya has been transitioning into being a mom, she has been looking to get some new things for her closet. When she first mentioned this to me, I went through the classic 5 stages of grief. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little about how I reacted to Shreya getting more stuff, but it did make me want to dig a little deeper and understand how much stuff women really have in their closets. Do women continue to accumulate things? How often do women “recycle”?


The Facts

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the average American spends $1700 on buying clothes and related items per year. And according to the bureau of Labor Statistics, apparently that number is twice as high for women - so approximately $3400 is spent per year on clothing and apparel by women - that’s $283.33 per month. But what happens to this stuff after it has been acquired? How many times is each item used? How long before the item is no longer trendy or you feel like not wearing it anymore?

We here at Threadflip ran a survey among women between the ages of 18-54 in the United States. The results were extremely interesting.

On average, a woman has approximately 90 items in her closet and the worth roughly $1000 ($998.60 to be exact). We also gathered that of the 90 or so items, around 51% of those items are not used anymore. AT ALL. The average article of clothing or accessory is used for less than a month before its usage drops to almost zero.


That’s 46 items, worth $510, just sit in each woman’s closet. Not being used. Backing up from recent census data, that amounts to about $50.4B worth of stuff just sitting in closets across the country.

The Good News!

Let’s say you have $510 worth of stuff in your closet that you no longer use.

Find a good home for your stuff

By selling your items on Threadflip, you could earn $408 (Threadflip’s commission for sales is 20%).

With the money you earn, you can feed your vice

Items on Threadflip are listed at extremely deep discounts. According to our math, on average, items are listed at about 60% off their retail price on Threadflip. So instead of spending $283.33 this month, you would only spend $113.33!

Simply put, instead of being down $283.33, you would actually be making $294.67, while not making a single change to your monthly shopping habits.

Is this sustainable?

“Although I sold some stuff last month and made some stuff last month, will I still spend $283.33 every month? And what about all the stuff I still have in my closet? Now what?”

Not only is this sustainable, you are going to find yourself staying ahead of the curve with new clothing and accessories every month while preserving precious closet space. Unlike buying a car, which one may do only once every few years, clothing and apparel are something people buy far more often.  Clothes and apparel regularly go out of style and are in constant need of refreshing.

Buying clothing never has and probably never will be considered an “investment”. However, if you are diligent about selling your unused stuff, your ROI wouldn’t be zero.

So, it’s been a month since you bought those things on Threadflip. With our “relist” feature, you list the items you bought for sale in just 1 click.

Let’s say you decide to sell all the items at 20% off what you bought them for (after all, it has been a month and you’ve worn it a few times now). You will make $72.58 off the items you bought last month by selling those on Threadflip.

If you keep up your spend, you’d be spending a grand total of $40.75 every month while changing NOTHING about your shopping habits. That’s a savings of 85.6%!

The (New) Economics of a Woman’s Closet

Admittedly, this scenario is perhaps a glass half-full way of looking at things. But there is a lot of buzz about “collaborative consumption” and how it’s affecting the way people make and spend money at large. Mark Suster has a fantastic article about global economic trends and how collaborative consumption startups, like Airbnb, Lyft etc. are helping people make money off of their existing capabilities and resources. Jeremiah Owyang has been on a tear writing about the collaborative economy of late. What I have described in my post is already reality for a majority of Threadflippers. It closely mirrors how sellers realistically operate on Threadflip every single day. Hundreds of thousands of women across the country are capitalizing on the ability to make space in their closet and make money off their “idling” items on Threadflip. Our sellers have made millions of dollars on Threadflip, averaging $108 each month.

The bottom-line is that after this research, I feel much better as I know our closet will not be suffering from wardrobe overload. Shreya feels great because she can continue refreshing her style and acquiring new clothes and accessories as often as she wants.

Anand, Head of Product, Threadflip

Special thanks to Daniel, Shreya and Tea for helping me out with this post!

PS: Want to know how much you can make off of items in your closet? Use our sell calculator to determine how much you could make off your items on Threadflip: