More and more people are buying and making money from vintage clothing. It’s official: second-hand is sexy.
Endorsement from fashion icons like supermodel Kate Moss and top stylist Bay Garnett has helped charity shop fashion to take hold on the high street.
Cash in on this sudden wave of thrift shop chic by rifling through the back of your wardrobe, trudging down to your local charity shop and generally keeping an eye out for hidden gems wherever you go. Then all you have to do is find the right buyer to make a tidy profit!
People are always on the look out for great bargains. So it’s important to regularly check your local vintage clothes goldmine to see if any new stock has come in that could potentially make you a mint.
Have a rummage
The number one rule when visiting charity shops is: Don’t be afraid to rummage. It’s usually the case that the most collectable items lurk at the bottom of the pile.
Also, keep going back to any shop you think might have hidden treasures. The good stuff goes fast and twice a week is not excessive for an enthusiastic collector.
Choose the right material
“Definitely avoid very artificial fabrics as they are a nightmare to keep clean. Ideally look for items that are made of high quality fabrics such as wool or cotton. I wouldn’t be too worried if an item has a small hole, is missing a button or needs to be hemmed up, this can all be easily fixed. You can find tips on how to remodel ill-fitting vintage in a few quick steps on QueensofVintage.”
There aren’t any items of clothing in particular that make the most profit, because it depends how much you buy for, the condition, the label and how limited the availability of the item is.
If you’re just starting out, try not to pay more than £20-£30 for any one item. But, with a bit of knowledge and a dollop of good luck, finding a pair of £5 vintage shoes in charity shop and selling them on for £40-£50 is definitely doable.
Beginners should definitely grab themselves a copy of a vintage clothes guide such as Funmi Odulate’s ‘Shopping for Vintage’ (£7.12 from Amazon.co.uk), just to brush up on some basic info.
Before you go trawling through every thrift store in town, look a little closer to home. Most of us have bags of clothes in our attics and wardrobes that are just waiting to come back into style.
Cash in the attic
Have a look through and see if by any chance you’ve got something in good condition that might possibly make you a profit.
Remember that even if you think an item is absolutely hideous, it might well be in fashion at the minute. Keep an open mind about styles, colours and fabrics because, unless you’re already an expert, you can never be too sure if you’ve come across the holy grail of, for instance, stilettos.
Also, try having a swap shop with friends (or strangers), to see if you can pick anything out from their junk that could be worth something.
Lena says: “There are… lots of clothes swapping or swishing parties going on. I recently went to a great one at the V&A.”
Check out Swishing.com to find your nearest event.
Hit the high street
After you’ve turned your house upside down and hassled all your friends, try looking a little further away from home. Most high streets have a charity shop or two, which are ideal for finding forgotten garments handed down through generations. The trick is to inspect everything you find and then trust your instincts.
If you fall in love with an item at first glance, unless you’ve got a particularly quirky style, chances are someone else might too.
Vintage clothing stores are also a great place to find some original and quirky pieces. However, you’re a lot less likely to make any profit on items you find at one. The shop owners are generally experts in their field and will know which items are more valuable and can therefore be taken to auction or sold for more.
Having said that, vintage stores are often willing to haggle – so give it a go. It’s certainly worth having a look every now and again – you never know what might be hiding beneath a pile of polka dot dresses.
Lena says: “Charity shops are a great place for vintage bargains. The same goes for large vintage shops in non-trendy areas; stay away from Camden Market or Brick Lane for example. There are also some fantastic online shops such as somelikeitvintage that have amazing bargain items.”
At the minute, originality is the key to being stylish. Buying vintage clothing pretty much guarantees that you’re not going to turn up to a party wearing the same dress as someone else. Unless of course you’re particularly unfortunate.
Popular celebs like Peaches Geldof and television presenter Alexa Chung swear by vintage. This has given the market for second-hand clothing a serious boost.
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There are literally thousands of collectors out there searching for certain items. They are willing to pay big bucks for the much-coveted vintage designer shoe.
Just remember that the chances of you stumbling upon a moneymaker like that are one in a bazillion!
There are a few different places you can sell your newly purchased vintage clothes and footwear.
Of course, the first place people think of is eBay. And yes, people have been known to make a tidy sum from buying and selling there, and people still do.
However, collectors and fashion addicts are getting wise to the scammers and time wasters populating eBay, and now often seek alternatives.
Popular fashion site ASOS has launched its own virtual ASOS Marketplace with great success. What’s more, it’s designed with vintage clothes sellers in mind.
Take a look at our guide on how to make money from ASOS Marketplace.
Specialist sites and auctions
If you’ve got your heart set on auctioning your goods off, try SpecialistAuctions, which has a specific section dedicated to vintage wear.
You can also check out local auction houses, to see if they have any vintage clothing auctions running in the near future. If they don’t have an auction specifically for vintage clothing however, it probably isn’t worth bothering with.
You can reach thousands amongst your target market by displaying your goods on a specialist website. Whereas, a real life auction without your specific audience will attract a couple of bidders at the most.
If you’ve picked up anything particularly classy on your travels, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, (from the website CandySays), describing your items. Include some pictures if possible, and she’ll let you know whether or not she wants it for her online store and for what price.
Of course, to get an idea of value for your items, you could haul them along to your local vintage store and just ask them for advice. You never know, they might even offer you a nice wad of cash for what you’ve got.
Making a full-time living by buying and selling vintage clothing and shoes isn’t something you should think about unless you’re an expert in the field.
At best, you can expect to earn a few quid by buying an item for a couple of pounds and selling it on for a double figure.
The big money will be made by buying designer wear and big names as an investment. Labels like Chanel, Givenchy and Dior, for example, will only increase in value as time goes by – providing the articles are in good condition.