The EU’s online fashion & beauty market is projected reach a turnover of €144B by 2026, bolstered by  C2C marketplaces offering sustainable second-hand fashion and resale options.

That is according to Cross-Border Commerce Europe which has released the second edition of “Top 250 Fashion & Beauty Retail Europe”, an annual ranking highlighting the online fashion & beauty sector as a leading segment in online retail.

The research highlights the growing market for second-hand fashion, in particular through C2C resale marketplaces and forecasts that that nearly one-sixth of online fashion sales in 2026 will originate from C2C resale platforms. The twin factors of cost efficiency and sustainability are driving consumer interest in this area.

It is estimated that the total online EU fashion turnover turnover will grow by 18% over the next three years having reached €122B, last year, of which €45B was cross-border. This constituted a market share of 25% within the overall fashion & beauty market worth €486B. By 2026, this is expected to expand modestly to 28% with growth impacted by the prevailing challenges posed by inflation.

Inflationary pressures and supply chain disruptions stemming from geopolitical instability, particularly due to the Ukrainian war, are progressively influencing customer shopping behaviours. Escalating inflation leads to reduced disposable income for consumers, prompting them to prioritise essential purchases and curtail their fashion & beauty consumption, the report said.

Source: Cross-Border Commerce Europe

Emerging trends

Emerging trends such as the metaverse, livestream shopping, personalisation, and second-hand fashion are are also seen as key to furthering the growth of the fashion & beauty industry.

Marketplaces, however, are already having a significant impact in driving trade, accounting for nearly half of all online fashion transactions. A substantial portion of the marketplace Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) can be attributed to the C2C resale business. By 2026, it is anticipated that approximately 1/3 of marketplace GMV will be attributed to this segment

The Cross-Border Commerce Europe report also reveals the pivotal players in the fashion & beauty sector, operating across borders in 30 EU countries through online platforms, predominantly B2C and C2C sellers, while excluding B2B sellers.

Interestingly, apart from Zalando, the other top five leading cross-border fashion players players – Amazon, eBay, AliExpress, and Etsy – are mass merchants who have achieved remarkable success in the fashion domain. Although Amazon secures the top position in the cross-border e-ranking, Zalando commands a larger online fashion market share (9.8%) compared to Amazon (8.3%). Due to its robust performance in its home country of Germany in contrast to other cross-border countries, Zalando’s ranking is lower than Amazon’s, which boasts a more dominant cross-border presence.