Buying secondhand designer clothes has never been easier or more applicable to all budgets. The designer resale industry has grown massively since the recession and is expected to grow even more in the coming years. A report by ThredUp stated that in 10 years time resale will be bigger than fast-fashion!
Clearly, much of this reported growth is due to the internet boom, allowing sellers to connect with buyers all over the world. No longer is the second-hand market confined to wealthy pockets of the globe, but is now accessible globally. Equally, the market is potentially much larger than predicted given the number of outlets that may be unbeknown to the researchers or that are simply unquantifiable. No one, I presume is monitoring (yet) how many pre-loved designer pieces are passing through Instagram or Facebook sellers these days, nor car boot sales.
I’d like to share with you my pre-loved designer sources, what they’re best for and also how to avoid the pitfalls:
Consignment stores (dress agencies)
Beautiful stock, already evaluated for condition and often at very good prices can be found at most dress agencies across London, the U.K. and further afield. Since consignment stores tend to only take in season-appropriate clothes and shoes, you know whatever you buy will not sit in your wardrobe for long. I love them for expensive investment pieces such as handbags, coats and also evening gowns (particularly black tie) but they are also great for more casual pieces too.
Most of the best have their own Instagram feeds where they upload their best new items, top designer handbags fly off the shelf so it’s wise to follow your favourites in order to bag (pardon the pun) the best ones. Menswear is less common in dress agencies, though there are a handful which have a great selection such as Exclusivo in Hampstead or Storm in a Teacup in Stoke Newington.
Online consignment sites
Hardly Ever Worn It (HEWI), Vestiaire and Rebelle are some of my favourites. They typically have an excellent range of top designer and also more niche designer clothes, shoes, accessories and homeware. They have various ways of authenticating and evaluating the condition, Vestiaire and Rebelle’s in particular are very robust since they collect the items for quality control before sending out to you.
Vestiaire claims to have nearly 6,000 items added to the site everyday. If you’re not looking for anything specific, HEWI is my go-to as the stock is varied but not so large that browsing takes forever. I particularly like their pre-authenticated VIP section where you can claim combined postage if you buy more than one item and the items arrive incredibly quickly.
Vestiaire is brilliant too, especially for Chanel or Gucci bags and also if you’re looking for something specific since their platform is so large. They also have a ‘ready-to-ship’ collection of items stored at their HQ, which I recommend as due to their QC sites being limited to just the US and France, the delivery process can take many weeks in some cases.
Menswear is limited to Vestiaire and HEWI but the stock is plentiful and of extremely high quality.
Ebay, Depop, Etsy and Vinted
Before there were online consignment shops, there was eBay. Then Etsy, a brilliant site for small independent sellers to sell their wares in one place and Depop, an app which seeks to make selling clothes more of social experience, popped up over time. Now there’s even Vinted.
eBay may not always be the best place to sell your designer clothes anymore, but with a discerning eye and ability to ask the right questions, it’s still a great place to buy. I recommend only buying items up to a certain value and then using consignment stores/sites for more expensive purchases where authentication is necessary. Buy brands for which you know the size you typically take or ask for measurements first in order to make sure it fits when it arrives. Typing designer online sites such as Net a Porter or Matches Fashion in the search bar is also a good way of having a more general designer browse.
Etsy was traditionally brilliant for vintage shops (there are so many) but there are also some great pre-loved designer shops on there too.
Full-disclosure, I don’t love Depop as a seller but it’s growing as a platform and is always worth a poke around if you’re looking for some second-hand pieces.
Apart from the aforementioned Instagram accounts of the designer consignment stores – @rebound_store_, @dfl_london, @sign_ofthetimes, @deuxiemelondon to name but a few – I’d also suggest looking at Instagram more generally as a place to find the pre-loved designer sellers that have all the best bits. @onescoopstore run by Holly Watkins is one that I check every morning (UK time) for her new listings items some of which are stylish consignment pieces and some she finds on her travels. She has everything from Emilia Wickstead and Ganni to Chanel and Cos and UK postage is included in the price. @gingerkate_preloved_clothes is great too, she has everything from high street to designer. Another is @NW8closet which sells beautiful designer pieces via their online Instagram store and eBay.
They are brilliant, just make sure you check them over properly for any holes or stains and test the zips! Our Luxury Thrift Shop Guides will tell you where the best places are to go.
Yes, you heard that right – jumble sales they are not, well, mostly. Many stylists will take their sample items and other trendy London folk will sell their wardrobes in fields around the capital. Our favourites are in Dalston, Pimlico, Chiswick and Potters Bar. Every designer you see on all the above platforms can also just as easily be found at car boot sales. Check them over twice as long as you would normally and if in doubt of its authenticity, leave it on the rack.