Trying to reduce your waste? Why not start with your wardrobe?
When it comes to buying second hand clothes online in the UK, you’re spoilt for choice. Good thing, too: Sustainability is the buzzword at the moment, with climate strikes taking place globally and more pressure than ever on the government to make climate change a priority.
An integral part of sustainability is reducing waste, specifically non-biodegradable waste i.e polyester and synthetic materials, plastics and glass. A staggering £140 million worth of clothing goes into landfill each year; it can often take hundreds of years to degrade, releasing harmful chemicals in the process.
To combat the damaging effect this has on the environment we, as consumers, need to change the way we buy and dispose of clothes. Purchasing pre-owned clothes helps combat the fast fashion industry responsible for producing millions of cheaply made synthetic clothes each year. Once we get tired of these items instead of carelessly throwing them away we could be donating them to charity or selling them online, thereby continuing the recycling process.
This article will guide you through the process of buying (and selling) second hand clothes online, so you can save the planet and look good doing it.
What to look for when deciding on a second hand clothes site
What is your price range?
Price is a deciding factor for many shoppers when it comes to fashion. Most would assume that second hand clothes are priced cheaper than their store-bought counterparts, but that’s not always the case. Yes, prices will likely be reduced considerably from the RRP; however, that doesn’t mean they’ll be “cheap” by normal standards.
If you’re looking for prices akin to that of your average charity shop then sites like Oxfam Online will probably suit your budget better. You’ll be able to find dresses for a tenner and shoes from £8.
If you’re looking at purchasing designer brands second hand then you’ll have to extend your budget drastically. Vestiaire Collective, for example, has limited edition pieces that will set you back thousands. A Hermes crocodile handbag is currently being sold for £95,000 – a price the seller justifies by claiming the handbag is one of “12 in the whole world.” At the other end of the designer spectrum, there’s also Burberry trench coat on the site for only £44.
There is a huge disparity when it comes to second hand designer pieces with prices dependent on condition. If you’ve got a smaller budget you’ll have to accept you might be looking at items that are a little more pre-loved than others.
What are you looking for?
Certain sites, such as Bagista, only specialise in one thing (bags) so make sure you’ve got a vague idea of what you’re looking for before you start perusing.
You might also want to consider whether you want to buy or rent items. Renting clothes pertains more to designer brands due to the hefty price tags. It’s also the more sustainable of the two options. Instead of purchasing a piece brand new, wearing it once and forgetting about it, you can buy it for your chosen event and return it afterwards – less waste, maximum use.
Best places to buy second hand clothes online in the UK
1. eBay : Best for cheap finds
Perhaps the first household name that sold second hand items to the masses. Although eBay now resembles more of an online department store, it still attracts individual sellers as opposed to big brands.
If you venture on to the “fashion” section of the site you’ll see the option to filter results by auction only. It’s here you’ll find pre-loved clothes from as cheap as £1. Unfortunately, much of the site appears to be shifting towards brands selling new clothes but, similarly to your average charity shop, if you spend enough time sifting through you’re bound to find a gem.
2. Asos Marketplace: Best for vintage items
Asos Marketplace is a platform created by Asos to allow smaller boutique brands to flourish, satisfying consumers who want trendy alternatives to designer brands. You’ll have to create a shop on the website to sell your items and Asos takes a 10% commission, but it’s a great platform if you have a number of vintage pieces to shift or you wish to start a second income. There’s a wide range of mens and womens vintage fashion available including accessories and shoes.
There’s a lot of debate over what constitutes as vintage and what constitutes as second hand. Vintage items are often sold at a premium, sometimes three times as expensive as their charity shop counterparts which seems unjust when they both equate to the same thing. While it could seem unethical purchasing from a vintage shop over a charity shop, time and money goes into curating a collection, so it’s really about deciding what your priority is as a consumer.
3. Oxfam Online: Best online charity shop
As far as we can find, Oxfam Online is the only major charity that sells their donated clothes online as well as in-store. This is a huge step forward in the charity shop sector as it’s matching big brands at their own game.
Oxfam, founded in 1942, aims to help end global poverty. An Oxfam charity shop has become commonplace amongst most highstreets with 650 in total across the UK. If you’re looking for some bargains but also want your money to go to a greater cause, then Oxfam Online could be the perfect option for you.
4. Vestiaire Collective: Best for designer brands
This French online platform selling pre-owned fashion started in 2009, encouraging people to resell unwanted designer items. If you prefer the finer things in life, then Vestiaire might be the best option for you.
With brands such as Dior, Chanel, Gucci and Balenciaga, you’ll be spoilt for choice when hunting for your luxury purchase. All items are sent to the Vestiaire offices by the seller for a quality check before they move on to the buyer. This ensures you’re receiving an authentic designer item and you’re being fairly charged by the seller.
If you’re really short on time you can even use the concierge service to sell items. This offers sellers an end-to-end service in which the company collect your items, list them and ship them at an increased commission rate (35%).
5. Front Row: Best for renting clothes
Front Row prides itself on providing a solution to the age-old question, “will I ever wear this again?” The site and app allows users in London to rent outfits straight off the catwalk. In theory, this prevents buyers from purchasing a piece of clothing for an event, only to never wear it again.
The rental period usually lasts up to five days but this can be negotiated. Front Row provides the dry-cleaning and will drop off and collect the item. It’s an innovative concept that not only makes catwalk fashion accessible but also encourages a sustainable perspective on fashion.
To give you an idea of the rental prices the site offer, a Tom Ford sequined dress is £360 but is retailing at £4,050 on Net-a-Porter. A pair of Dior earrings are available for £75 with an original retail price of £400. Essentially, you’re making a huge discount whilst getting your money’s worth.
6. Depop: Best app for everyday fashion
If you want a simple app to sell clothes quickly and purchase them even quicker, Depop is your safest option. The app allows you to converse directly with the seller, read reviews from previous buyers and only takes 10% in commission from what you sell.
It’s extremely easy to use and doesn’t constrain sellers to independent boutiques like that of Asos Marketplace. You’ll be able to find men and womens fashion from low to mid-range pricing. You’ll find mostly high street fashion on this app as opposed to high-end, making it a good choice for those with a smaller budget.