Pre-loved clothes are a win for your wallet, a win for the planet and a win for your wardrobe – so get shopping.

With lovers of clothes ever conscious of their fashion carbon footprint, the pre-loved fashion industry is growing at a phenomenal rate to meet the demand. No more are we reaching for impulse buys, but many of us are seeking out those fashion items that are keepers and what better way than to buy something that someone has already loved and worn?

Shopping for second-hand or vintage clothes online is a bit like a treasure hunt. To find the hidden gems, you have to dig, scour, examine, research and occasionally make some wrong turns along the way.

But what once required hours of sorting through racks of clothing and shelves of shoes, bags and homewares in musty charity shops is now accessible from the comfort of our own homes, with the ease and convenience that is online shopping.

Wondering why, how and where to buy second-hand clothing online? We’ve done the work for you by putting together this guide, which gives you tips on what to consider when looking to buy quality used fashion.



Pre-loved fashion: good for your wallet and great for the planet



It’s great for the planet – partly because it extends the life of the garments you buy and partly because it negates the need to travel to the shops in the first place.

It is estimated that, in the UK, clothing has the fourth largest environmental impact after housing, transport and food. More than half of fast-fashion items are destined to be thrown away in less than twelve months. And a recent report suggested that the fashion industry’s greenhouse gas emissions could surge more than 50 per cent by 2030.

If anything will put you in the mood for a pre-loved fashion fix, those figures will!

Pre-loved shopping can also be great for your wallet – second-hand clothes often offer excellent value for money.

It also ensures a style that is all your own. Buying pre-loved guarantees you a much more original wardrobe. Ever been to party and found other guests in the same high-street dress as you? That simply won’t happen if you buy vintage.

Tips for buying second-hand clothing



First off, it's important you trust the seller, so that you're confident of the product being what it says it is on the label. Up until recently when the industry has been taken more seriously as a viable option to sustainable fashion, how many times have online buys been a let down? By choosing a respected reseller, you'll have no worries on authenticity and even eBay is stepping up to the mark.

Buying pre-loved fashion takes time and dedication. You'll need to set aside a good chunk of time for this type of purchase as it's certainly not immediate. We recommend that you narrow down your search online and use filter options. If you've got a designer in mind, use that as your starting point.

Check out instagram and see the influencers who are nailing the pre-loved look. There's nothing wrong with copying someone's style. In fact it can be a really good way to embark on a new look and you can then add your own flourishes.

High street sizing seems all over the place right now and vintage sizing can be erratic too. So if you're worried, go for a larger size as you can always get it tailored to fit or use a belt to cinch the waist.

You've received your pre-loved purchase and it's still not quite right? Accessorise all areas and you'll be on the right fashion track.

Where To Buy Pre-Loved Fashion Online



eBay


Believe it or not, eBay is an increasingly excellent source of second-hand fashion. Its sales of ‘pre-loved fashion and homewares’ have rocketed in the last year, when the company has sold over 60 million used items in the UK alone. Murray Lambell, general manager of eBay’s UK business, recently told The Guardian that he has noticed a change in mindset, driven by consumers under the age of 30. Fascinating. Explore more here.


Vinted


Founded in 2008, this Lithuanian masterpiece is the world’s largest marketplace for buying and selling second-hand clothing. It now has over 37 million registered members in 13 countries, including 1.2 million in the UK. They make the interesting point that: ‘The pandemic shifted priorities and accelerated the already growing movement toward more conscious consumerism.’ Explore more here.


Depop


This highly flexible and infinitely popular peer-to-peer app is designed to allow you to sell your unwanted gear and buy pre-loved items from others. The company says: ‘Changing fashion isn’t hard. It’s as simple as changing the way we shop. Keeping clothes that already exist passing from person to person. Keeping the stories, the culture, the value, the designs, moving for as long as possible.’ Quite so. Explore more here.


Asos Marketplace


ASOS is doing its bit to bring vintage to the next generation via a platform they already know and trust. Making vintage feel cool and relevant to Generation Y, they’re a marketplace for independent boutiques and labels – using “real people” for all their modelling and dubbing the site ‘the people’s runway’. Their sales of vintage clothing are said to have risen in recent times by 92 per cent. Explore more here.


Vestiaire Collective


Launched in Paris in 2009, Vestiaire Collective is the grande dame of pre-loved designer fashion. The peerlessly chic co-founders told Forbes magazine: ‘We started the platform with 3,000 pieces that were all actually sourced from our friends in Paris. Nearly 60 per cent of the average individual wardrobe goes unworn, so the idea for Vestiaire Collective was really born out of the desire to give these pieces a new lease of life and place circularity at the heart of the industry and consumer mindset.’ Over a decade on, they’ve shown us how to do just that. Explore more here.


Good


Though not fully online (yet), this young company deserves a mention for its flawless aim. Their slogan is “out with the new, in with the old”. In their three London shops, they sell beautifully curated collections of pre-loved clothes. They say: ‘We believe we have come up with an exciting alternative (to fast fashion) that will help you to minimise your environmental impact.’

*When searching for used clothing, remember that sizing won’t always correspond exactly to the high-street sizing you are used to.


Bonus: Resell and Refresh Your Wardrobe Online with NET-A-PORTER x Reflaunt





The clever people at the fashion giant NET-A-PORTER, who have committed to becoming climate positive by 2030, have the right idea.

They say: ‘Our decision to become climate positive reflects our ambition to play a bigger role in protecting our planet, acting responsibly and making impact on behalf of our company, colleagues and customers.’

They have got together with Reflaunt – whose sophisticated technology connects brands to the second-hand marketplace – to create a service that allows you to sell your pre-loved ready-to-wear garments, shoes, bags and jewellery.

Once your items have sold, you get to choose how you receive your payment – either with NET-A-PORTER store credit or cash via bank transfer.

NET-A-PORTER will pick up your items, photograph them, price them, sort your listing and pay you when the items have flown into somebody else’s wardrobe. It couldn’t be simpler to rehouse your unwanted threads.

Find out more here.

By Becky Ladenburg
November 2021

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Best Websites To Buy Vintage Online

Becky Ladenburg

Features Editor

As the GWG's features editor, Becky has her discerning finger on the cultural pulse. She's also our go-to expert on the property market.

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