When it comes to sourcing secondhand designer fashion, things can get a little daunting.
You’ve got to weigh up the cost of the items themselves (plus those dreaded shipping and customs fees if the piece you fall in love with is a continent or two away), nevermind the whole drama of whether or not your label is legit.
The age old method of finding secondhand treasures — traipsing the rails in charity shops, just in case you were wondering — is a perfectly good option for most, right up until you’ve exhausted a 10-mile-radius with no finds at all and then a little old lady reaches for the same (potentially imitation, it’s only priced at £2.50) Prada purse, and suddenly you’re faced with the moral dilemma of snatching it up before she can grab it. Do you have that in you? Just how far are you willing to go in the hunt for that secondhand designer wardrobe?
Luckily for you, we’ve got plenty of experience in hunting down those high-end pieces everyone is lusting after and, because we’re just that nice, we’re willing to share some of our top tips with you.
A beginner's guide:
Starting out easy
They’re the best places to find lightly chipped dining tables and moderately (we pray) used mattresses, but did you know that sites like eBay, Gumtree and even good ol’ Facebook Marketplace can end up with some designer gems listed on them?
These are the sites where you’re likely to find the real bargains — generally, the people listing here just want to get rid, and you can usually haggle the price down even further. Even better, by filtering your searches to the areas closest to you, the very notion of shipping can be swapped for a simple wander into town to pick up your new wares right away.
The only problem? Things go fast, and in such a saturated market, fakes are much more likely to fall through the cracks. There’s no real way to authenticate the pieces until you have them in your hands, and even then the counterfeit trade is getting harder and harder to distinguish. But if that’s not a dealbreaker for you, then this is the perfect place to start your pre-owned designer journey.
Scrolling for gold:
The hunt is on
Not finding anything in your neighbourhood? Let’s look a little further afield. Enter stage left: Vinted and Depop.
As sites dedicated solely to selling on your old clothes, Depop and Vinted are well and truly cementing themselves as big players in the secondhand designer market — you just have to know what you’re looking for.
You want a handbag? Maybe a new dress? Okay, cool, let’s start searching. The terms you use really matter here. “Handbag” is going to get you a million results, but “Valentino handbag” will weed that down to the things you might actually consider. If you’re on the lookout for something specific, you need to search specific otherwise you’ll be scrolling for literally the rest of your life. Use brand names and exact styles if you know what you want.
When you think you’ve found something good, you need to examine the listing. Ideally, you want a good selection of photos presenting the item from every angle and a description that clearly tells you of any wear or marks. Ask for label shots if you need a little extra convincing; a good seller should be more than willing to provide them when asked. For shoes, make sure to get pictures of the soles too, because some people have a habit of tagging “barely worn” when they actually mean “nearly worn through”.
As with eBay and all the other sites like it, you run the risk of being sold fakes — or of not being sold anything at all. Instagram is full of horror stories of denied refunds and months-late shipments (@depopdrama is a particular fave if you want some bystander entertainment). By buying through Vinted or Depop you’re putting yourself entirely at the mercy of someone else with no way to ascertain if they plan to ship your new items quickly or, well, whenever they feel like getting around to it.
There’s one very simple rule to live by here: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Get excited, but definitely don’t set your expectations too high, just in case.
Be in the know
If you want to cut out the risk of fakes and make sure you’re only getting authentic pieces, then luxury resale website Vestiaire Collective is the place for you. Every item listed for sale has to go through a rigorous photographing process, and the site itself is very picky about just which brands can be sold.
Every so often, a package will be shipped off to their headquarters in France to be checked over before it makes its way to you, so you can be sure you’re always getting the real deal if you shop through Vestiaire.
Be warned, though — with that high-end guarantee comes a more high-end price tag. Sure, it’s still a bargain compared to buying brand new, but could you get a better deal somewhere else?
Back to basics:
get your feet on the ground
I know, I know, we covered the ethics of challenging the fashion-hogging grannies already, but charity shops are tried and tested for a reason. They’re almost always overflowing with new stock at wallet-friendly prices — in a similar vein, try out a car boot sale one weekend and you might just be surprised at what you find. It might take a few visits to find something worthwhile, but it’s very, very rare to never find anything at all, especially if you’re open to the idea of vintage as well as designer.
And as a nice little ego boost, not only are you saving the environment and halting the landfill cycle by buying secondhand, but you’re actively contributing to your local economy and a good cause. Double good guy points for you, what a hero!
Or, you could do it the easy way
If scouring the internet for hours on end or taking a tour of every charity shop in the surrounding area doesn’t sound like fun to you, then there’s one last thing you could try.
By far the easiest, most pain-free way to find high quality, reasonably priced secondhand designer fashion is to cut out the middle man. Stop searching and let us do it for you!
It’s what we’re good at. That’s why we do it.
We have a whole host of beady eyes keeping tabs on the fashion world, snatching up the things you actually want. The second something good becomes available, we’re on it — honestly, it’s a little bit scary. But we work fast so that you can get the very best in pre-owned designer and vintage fashion without all the hassle.
We negotiate so you don’t have to. We measure and photograph every item, making note of even the most minor defects, so that there’s no nasty surprises when the new purchase is in your hands. We package every order carefully and send it off the very same day (unless you order after 3pm, in which case we trot on down to the post office first thing the next morning) and if you live in the UK, you’ll never have to pay a single penny in shipping costs.
It’s a good deal, right? We think so too. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to go find something new!