In late 2017, I was set to start my internship with the Personal Shopping team at Selfridges, and I really wanted to celebrate my first luxury-based role (if you will) by treating myself to a new pair of shoes. I'd saved up some money from my part-time job and was eyeing the Gucci sneakers which were all the rage at the time with a cool £500-ish price tag. BUT even then, I wasn't about to spend a month's paycheck on shoes – enter, Depop. I found a pair of brand new Gucci Ace sneakers for £90 from some lady up in Manchester who bought the wrong size and couldn't return them. I paid through Paypal on the app, and the shoes arrived in pristine condition, with dustbags, the original packaging and even the original receipt. That's when I realised that besides upcycling the material, there is more than one way to give life to preloved fashion.
According to thredUP's 2020 Fashion Resale Market and Trend Report, the secondhand market is predicted to grow as high has $64 billion dollars by 2025. People are choosing to be more conscious of how they spend their money on fashion, and even more are willing to buy secondhand, rather than brand new at full price. This isn't a new concept, but is definitely one that accelerated and was more recognised in the last year. We can't ignore how the pandemic changed our relationship with our clothes – some people realised that they actually wear a very small amount of their wardrobe and could possibly do with less, others couldn't wait to wear clothes other than loungewear. I've heard friends saying things like, "I missed wearing my big teddy coat on a cold winter morning and feeling ever so cozy on my walk to work" and its moments like these that remind me that fashion for so many of us is beyond just clothes and materialistic purchases. The RealReal's founder, Julie Wainwright put it best in conversation with Vogue's Lynn Yaeger – "People like nice things! And if these things are in [a] nice condition, people don't care if they're previously owned".
A common misconception is that shoppers trawl resale websites and apps just to buy new pieces for less – false. Shoppers may spend hours and hours hunting for a vintage handbag from before their time (I've got a vintage Cartier Love ring on my wishlist), for a product that isn't available in their region, or like Dolly Alderton, might want to recreate an outfit from the Sex and The City series (top tip: depop is very popular for Halloween costume finds)!
One of the main reasons I push people to buy from, or resell or donate their old clothes and accessories rather than simply throwing them away is to contribute towards a circular economy in fashion. It will come as no surprise to anyone reading this, fashion does take a huge toll on the environment even to produce something as basic as a cotton t-shirt. Buying a product that already exists in the market, rather than buying one made with recycled materials eliminates the re-production stage altogether, furthermore reducing the environmental impact. Quite a few seasoned resellers have a one-in-one-out policy when it comes to buying preloved – not only is it a brilliant way to maintain the circularity and let others enjoy some of your favourite pieces, it's also easy on your wallet! Luxury brands like Stella McCartney, Burberry and Gucci are partnering up with platforms like The RealReal to resell their old stock rather than incinerating it like some other brands do. This is an effort not only to make a profit off of their old collections, but to also encourage shoppers to raid their closets and give life to clothes they don't wear any longer. But now that you have an idea of the why, let's talk about where to buy.
WHERE TO BUY PRELOVED
Online: Many people choose to shop through e-retailers like Vestiaire Collective, The RealReal, Depop or even eBay because of how most of these companies vet the sellers for you in advance. Vestiaire Collective and The RealReal go one step further and authenticate the product for you before it's listed on the website to ensure complete transparency. Another platform you can consider if you don't want to buy a new piece, want to constantly change your wardrobe with trends or need something for an occasion – go straight to Rent the Runway. They have specific bundles with flat rates, and each week you can have new outfits cleaned, delivered to your doorstep and ready to wear.
In-Store: Unfortunately, there's not a lot of places I've come across (please let me know if you know more!) but ReSellfridges in London has been my latest find. Time's Up Vintage in Copenhagen and Beyond Retro in the UK and Sweden also have had some great reviews on the internet.
On Instagram: This is where I've discovered a LOT of preloved fashion. Curate and Rotate is a UK-based account that drops a new collection every Sunday and you can send Melanie your preloved pieces to sell too. Yesterday Domani is a platform based in Germany, associated with the Anita Hass boutique in Hamburg and they resell everything from Gucci, to Isabel Marant, to Acne Studios and more. Wear Not New does a curated edit every month out of London, and Retold is another London-based platform that drops new collections every other week and highlights collaborations with other sustainable creatives throughout the year on special projects.
Head to our Instagram for some tips on how to buy and sell preloved fashion, and an even bigger list of resale accounts and platforms!