15 Nov Top tips on how to buy second-hand fashion online
Did you know that the number of items we purchase every year has doubled in the last 15 years? As we are binge-buying all this clothing, we’re also throwing away a lot. To be precise, as much as 84% of clothing ends up in landfills across the globe. Solutions? Buy less but more quality and sustainable clothing and learn to do more with what we have.
Quality sustainable clothing sounds great but it is also undoubtedly more expensive than an average fast fashion garment. This is where thrifting comes to play offering one of the most eco-friendly fashion options for a fraction of a cost. Since more and more people have been transitioning to sustainable lifestyles, the resale market has been blooming. Online thrift marketplaces like TheRealReal, Depop, Vestiaire Collective, Poshmark are revolutionizing the way we think about second-hand.
Why is second-hand fashion sustainable?
The fast fashion industry is responsible for 8-10% of global carbon emissions and it is well-known for its enormous water and energy use, as well as negligent exploitation of workers and animals. When you buy a pre-loved garment, you are eliminating these factors from the equation and help slow down the fast fashion cycle. In addition, you are keeping this garment from landfills, where many of them emit methane as they decompose. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is far more potent than carbon dioxide.
Secondly, second-hand fashion is very affordable and accessible. You can easily find a high quality gently used leather jacket for $150-200 or a Prada skirt for $15 on TheRealReal, for example. You might find many local thrift stores popping up in your neighborhood, and there are plenty of great online marketplaces to choose from, where you will easily find what you need using user-friendly marketplace filters and sorting options.
Things to look out for when thrifting
Here are some top tips as you are thrifting online.
1. Avoid cheap fast fashion garments
The point of thrifting in the context of sustainable fashion is to find a high quality garment that you will wear for years. Will a used H&M sweater survive two seasons? Probably not. Focusing on quality designer pieces made from durable fabrics will serve you well.
2. Learn about platform quality standards and policies
When shopping online, take some time to read the “About” and “Help” sections on a thrifting platform website. What are their quality standards? What is the return policy? This simple research will set the correct expectations and save you from unpleasant feelings after. Knowledge is power, isn’t it?
3. Avoid impulsive purchases
We all know that when something is cheap and comes in a limited quantity, there is sometimes a little gremlin inside of us that whispers, “Buy it now, hon, before it’s gone”. Remember this as you thrift online and use a usual formula when it comes to fashion shopping – ask yourself:
Will I wear this at least 30 times?
Can I create at least 3 distinct looks with it?
Be honest with yourself and resist the temptation to buy all at once. If you end up with twenty garments in your shopping card, give it at least 24 hours to follow-up on purchasing. You might be surprised to discover that you really liked only one-two garments!
4. Pay attention to a product description
When thrifting online, you might come across product listings that don’t accurately mention important product details like sizing. For example, you see a shirt that mentions size M in the description but you can clearly see that a tag on the picture shows size S. A pair of shoes is described by a seller as size 8 US but in reality it is a European size 38, which maps to 7.5 US and won’t fit.
Pay attention to the size tags on photos provided by sellers and don’t be shy to ask for a picture with a size and fabric tag if it’s missing from the listing. You can also read customer reviews. You might find out, for example, that a seller frequently forgets to send packages on time or the other buyers are unhappy with the quality of the received item.
Sustainable brands that offer pre-loved clothing
Here are some cool initiatives from sustainable fashion brands that offer pre-loved fashion options:
Worn Wear Program
Top online second-hand marketplaces
Here are our favorite online thrift platforms.
A luxury marketplace to sell and buy authentic designer pieces.
The world’s largest fashion resale marketplace with more than 35k brands.
A peer-to-peer platform that allows you to buy and sell luxury fashion.
A luxury marketplace for authentic designer pieces, similar to TheRealReal.
A sustainable fashion retailer offering circular products - organic, recycled, and vegan.
A global fashion retailer with a selection of pre-owned luxury fashion.