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!
- What to look for in vintage clothing
- Where to look for vintage clothing
- Where to sell vintage clothing
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
Lena Weber, editor of vintage fashion tribute website QueensofVintage and self-confessed vintage clothing addict says:
“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.
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 from Queensofvintage 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.
Although big names generally sell for more money, it’s much more difficult to find them for just a few quid. Because of this, you’re better off sticking to lower priced items to begin with.
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.
Find out how to make money collecting vintage shoes.
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.
Memorable shoes also do very well in auction. The famous ruby-red slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, made $666,000 (then around £412,000) when sold at auction in 2000.
Just remember that the chances of you stumbling upon a moneymaker like that are one in a million!
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.
But if you put in a bit of extra time when you list an item, you’ll find it will so pay off. A good rule of thumb is to describe the item as if it were being described with no photos available. Highlight the type of fabric, show the garment care instructions and always include the measurements as sizes vary depending on the era. For example, a vintage size 14 dress may be closer to a modern size 10. List the age, original retail price, and place of initial purchase if available. Don’t forget to mention any damage such as stains, tears or missing buttons.
A picture is really worth a thousand words, so always include good quality, well-lit photos with any listing. With eBay you can post up to 12 pictures, so make each one count – use a mannequin to display the item, opt for a white background and ensure you show any damage.
Each month, you are allocated 20 free listings, so make sure you take advantage of this. You can list more than that, but it will cost 35p an item thereafter.
Take a look at these 20 handy tips to make money on ebay today.
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. Unlike eBay, selling on the ASOS marketplace means you must have a minimum of 20 styles at one time, items will have a fixed price and you can only sell if your application is accepted. Your product image, for instance, must be up to standard before you are approved to sell, but the retailer offers a handy photography guide to help bring you up to speed.
Bear in mind that the process of applying for, and opening, a boutique can be tricky – only a very small percentage will be successful – but if you get it right, it can pay dividends. A boutique costs £20 per month and, when you make a sale, you’ll pay 20% commission. But students will pay less – as NUS Extra card holders will see a 10% discount on seller fees.
What you sell is up to you, with fakes, furs and exotic animal skins the only things off limits.
Etsy is another good place to flog your fashion finds. But you needn’t be limited to just clothing with this site, you can also sell vintage prints and artwork.
A quick look on the website gives the impression that this business is primarily in the United States, but do not let that put you off, as a third of sales are from international buyers.
What’s more, with over 26.1 million active members, only 1.6 million of those are sellers, that there are more than enough customers to go around.
Getting started as a seller on Etsy is easy – the first thing to do is register for a buyer account. Be careful when choosing your username, as it will also be your shop name, and show up as.
Take a few minutes and read the marketplace’s Beginner’s Guide to ensure that you get off on the right foot.
Again, having good quality photos is crucial to successfully selling on Etsy. You are allowed five pics per item and can hone your skills with the site’s useful guide to perfecting your product photography.
There are no monthly fees and it costs just 20 cents to list an item for four months and when your item sells, you are charged 3.5pc of the transaction fee – excluding shipping costs.
Facebook selling groups are giving eBay a run for its money as the best place to earn cash by selling second-hand items. Why? Its free. On this social network, you can find selling groups across the country with thousands of members keen to buy anything vintage.Thousands of groups have sprung up across the country – to find imply search “UK vintage selling groups” in the main search box. Offering items for sale is just as easy – all you need do is post directly on your group’s page and upload a photograph.
Its worth putting a clear deadline in your ad, along the lines of ‘will offer to the next person down if collection time not agreed within 24 hours’.
If you’ve done a really big clear out and have lots to offload, list as many goods as possible in one batch. Pick a day when you’re online, so you can answer questions promptly and don’t lose sales and enables you to arrange one or two time slots for collections.
Remember, groups are public, so keep personal details off posts and only accept payments via PayPal.
Also worth a look is Instagram. Just set up an account and find like-minded followers by searching hashtags such as #vintagesellingpage and #vintagesale.
Always hold the sale under a separate account from your personal one, so rather than spamming your friends and family, you are reaching prospective buyers. Create the account and post all the photos of your items with their descriptions before you start the sale, that way you can focus on making deals rather than uploading pictures.
With this type of sale, organisation is your friend. Keep a record or spreadsheet with the details of the sold price, any postage costs charged to the buyer and shipping information. This enables you to keep track of where to ship items and when payments come through.
Just before you start the sale, always post a list of “sale rules” as this will cut down the number of complaints or issues that pop up. This should include information such as start/end time of the sale, how to make bids (bid amount with PayPal email is often easiest), listing any postage restrictions (UK only, for instance). Its worth stipulating that payments must be received within 24 hours of receiving the PayPal money request. Failure to do so means that they lose their item and it goes to the next highest bid.
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.
Find out how to get involved in National Clear Your Clutter Day here.
- Amazon.co.uk – for catching up on your vintage clothes knowledge
- eBay – for buying and selling
- QueensOfVintage – a website you need to look at regularly for updates on your local sales and vintage clothes news.