How to Sell Vintage Clothing Online
A lot of people are posting their thrift haul videos on Youtube and earning money selling vintage clothing, and vintage sellers on IG are on a whole other level. If you’re wondering how to sell vintage clothing online to get to that level, you’ve come to the right place.
Vintage clothes have been popular for decades, especially with the fast turnover of trends in the late 20th century. It may seem that selling vintage clothes online should be easier than ever thanks to the many different reselling platforms: our own Goodfair Marketplace, Instagram, Facebook Marketplace, Ebay, Depop, Poshmark, ThredUp, Etsy, etc.
The problem with selling vintage clothing online is not so much the lack of resources as much as resource overload and competition. In this vintage clothing reselling guide, we spell out some practical tips to DIY your own vintage selling side hustle. If this is something you’re passionate about like we are, we hope your hustle will scale up.
First Things First - What Constitutes “Vintage Clothing”?
Technically, vintage clothing is classified as anything made twenty years ago (from the current time period). At the time of publishing this article, this means the turn of the century time-period (early 2000s) are just now entering the vintage domain. For even older things, an item turns into an antique after 100 years have passed since it was made.
Determining what is vintage clothing seems straightforward, but it can actually be tricky to authenticate the time period when an item was created. Many new products are made to look vintage, even though they’re created today. Some vintage clothing becomes so collectible, it inspires “bootlegs” which are fake reissues of famous vintage t-shirt or sneaker designs. Since items of clothing usually don’t come with a date of creation on their labels, you have to use external clues to guess the time period an item was made.
How to Tell if Clothing is Authentic Vintage Clothing
Clothing tags hold a lot of important information, even if they don’t come with a date. For major brands, you can check what version of their logo was used on the tag for a clue. Another way to tell if something is truly vintage is the site of manufacturing. Most US manufacturing was outsourced to developing countries by the nineties, so an older looking “Made in the USA” clothing tag can give you a clue as well.
Where to Find Vintage Clothing to Sell
Hunting for unique vintage clothing is more popular than ever. That doesn’t necessarily make it scarce, though. A lot of the availability of vintage clothing depends on your location, the timing, and your willingness to dedicate time to searching for the kind of goods you want to sell. Here are some of the best places to look.
Chain resellers of clothing donations: Clothing donation sites offer a lower price point of clothing sales in large retail outlets. You may find authentic vintage clothing to sell at places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, St. Vincent De Paul, Savers, or Value Village.
Local thrift retailers: Apart from the large chain, there are plenty of independent thrift stores serving their local communities. To find thrift stores in your area that may carry vintage clothes you can sell, http://www.thethriftshopper.com/ is a great directory.
Online reselling sites: If you know the exact type of vintage clothing items you’d like to sell by category, size, color, etc. then you can easily search the internet to find your goods. Check Goodfair Marketplace, Ebay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Etsy, ThredUp, Poshmark, Depop, Vestiaire Collective, the Real Real and more. Each has a different niche in the vintage clothing reselling universe.
Consignment and specialty thrift stores: These stores tend to sell their goods at some of the highest reselling price points, so they’re not always the best for stocking up. That said, if you’re looking for brand-name collectibles, check these stores.
Flea markets: Many communities host public flea markets where sellers bring their goods to show and sell in cheap vendor booths. The nice thing about flea markets is they tend to attract people from a wide radius. They also tend to have a mix of more serious collectors and hoarders, so you can find a range of different items.
Estate sales: People often sell the items of their deceased relatives. Sometimes these sales are packed full of heirloom items that you can’t find anywhere else. To find an estate sale to scout for vintage clothing to sell, you can find announcements for estate sales on sites like EstateSales.net, EstateSales.org, and EstateSale.com, Craigslist, or other local news sites in your area.
Garage sales: Now that we don’t have to socially distance quite so much, we might see a return of garage sales. While these sales aren’t always the best for the really old vintage things, you can sometimes find interesting items when people downsize their stuff. You can find them by driving around your neighborhood and looking for signs, or checking in your favorite local listing source.
Auctions: Auction houses also sell vintage clothing that goes for really cheap. Make a day of it and check out the auctions in your area using https://www.auctionzip.com/.
Rag houses: These are the end point for shirts before they get baled up and shipped overseas. They’re usually found in port cities, distribution hubs, or sites of clothing manufacturing. They didn’t used to be open to the public, but now you can sometimes browse their massive piles of t-shirts for rare vintage tee shirt finds. Finding them can be tricky, but you can search online to see if your area has clothing imports and exports and once you find a rag house, mill, or grader, call them to see if they allow pickers.
How to Price Vintage Clothing to Sell Online
Obviously, your aim is to make money when you resell vintage clothes, so the first rule of pricing is to sell an item for more than you bought it for. To do this, you need to show people the value it holds, whether this from its design, cut, material, scarcity, or the demand for your item.
When people search for vintage clothing, they’re often looking for those beautiful, rare, collectible items that can resell for a much higher value.
At Goodfair, we’ve taken a different approach by selling surprise bundles. If we all became collectors, there would still be a huge textile waste problem, because people would still discard the useful, but more common vintage clothes.
We encourage you to think outside the box and experiment with different ways of selling vintage clothes and setting price points to help our waste problem. A little marketing genius can go a long way to help generate interest in clothes that may not be collectible, but still have a much longer useful lifespan.
Here are some tips to help you choose a price point:
Research what other people have sold the item for. It’s important to go online and use your search browsers to check pricing on items. Sometimes items are more valuable than you’d expect. The best place to do this is on Ebay, where you can see what sold items went for.
Try to determine if it’s a rare item, and if so, tell its story. If it was made in an unfamiliar country, if it has a unique wash or cut, or if it’s a handmade item, try to use those details to emphasize its uniqueness. For example, I recently bought a used jeans jacket with a unique cut and color. It was clearly vintage and it came from Ukraine. When I researched vintage jeans in Ukraine, I found out that Western jeans weren’t even legal in Ukraine during the nineties under Soviet Union rule, so it is a rare item. When you write your item’s description, tell the unique story of your item.
Add perceived value: Adding value requires a bit of artistry. Some of the ways people do this are simply by developing a smart curation sense and presenting the item in an attractive way. People might see an item’s potential with a touch of good styling.
Another way to add value is to specialize. If you become the “vintage halter top girl” everyone will come to your site for that specific item. You can connect with well-known influencers or interesting looking people to help add their presence on your site. This will make your vintage clothes appealing to others.
While upcycling is another option, sometimes people don’t want to significantly alter the original condition of vintage items. However, upcycling is a great way to add value to more common items like the items sold on Goodfair. That’s why we’ve set up the Goodfair Marketplace, where you can sell DIY upcycled Goodfair pieces at a higher price point than you bought it for.
Where to Sell Vintage Clothing Online
Your own site hosted on Squarespace, Shopify or Wordpress: Selling vintage clothing on your own website gives you the greatest amount of control, but there can be a learning curve to set these up. Make sure your webpages are user-friendly and it’s easy to find and browse your items for sale. Websites like these usually have a blogging feature available, and blogging is a great way to engage your audience with written, informative content.
Goodfair Marketplace: This is best for selling upcycled items bought on Goodfair. We recently opened up, to help our community make money off of the items we sell on our site. Share your modified used and vintage clothing with tie dye, sewing, or painting your designs on our pieces.
Etsy, Depop, Poshmark, ThredUp, Grailed: These sites are user-friendly platforms specifically designed for clothing sales. List your items for sale, quickly and easily.
Vestiaire Collective and the Real Real: These sites are more tailored towards authentic, high-end designer items. If that’s your cup of tea, be sure to check out these sites.
Ebay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace: These sites essentially replaced classified ads sites. Make sure you’re familiar with the different rules of posting on each platform and list your item with clear, searchable keywords.
Instagram, Tiktok, Pinterest, and Youtube: Selling vintage clothing on social media can be very lucrative. These are really visual sites, perfect for people who love design, videos, sharing, and online engagement. Instagram allows you to sell items directly from your profile if you have an IG business account. Tiktok is just a miracle for having fun and being creative, which is always great for getting exposure. Pinterest is a great search engine so you can post engaging visuals and link back to your main website. Youtube is also great to use as a search engine for popular video themes like thrift flips or thrift hauls. In your description you can list all of your social media profiles and selling channels.
How to Sell Vintage Clothing to Thrift Buyers/Resellers
Selling vintage clothing online is like riding a bike. The first few times you do it, you might crash and fail, but it gets easier over time. Just make sure you observe to learn what worked every time you make a sale. Here are some important ways to make it worth your time:
- Differentiate yourself from other online vintage clothing resellers
Do you have a special purpose, outlook, location, or identity that makes your vintage clothing reselling journey interesting to other people? Use that story to make it a special place for people to come and browse used clothes.
You can differentiate by specializing in certain types of items, packaging your items in a different way from others, or simply niching down to a certain region of sales. Perhaps you mostly serve high school skaters in the Pacific Northwest, and that’s ok. Your homies will love you for it.
- Photograph your items in good lighting and show all the details
Dark lighting means bad photography. It gives it that grainy, muddy look that’s a big turn off for clothes shoppers. Make sure you take your photos in good light, showing all of the important details, with a good layout and design.
Don’t crowd the photograph with your item--allow it to have a background and extra space around it. Better yet, show how it looks when someone wears it by photographing yourself or a friend in the piece of clothing.
- Keep consistency across your selling channels
If you want to make it easy to find your brand across different sites, use the same profile name or handle on every site and make it easy to remember. It also helps to consistently use the same profile picture, bio, and background photo on all of your profiles. Finally, once you settle on a photography style, use it consistently for all of your items. This simplifies things for you and the people who want to browse your site.
- Use keywords in your listings
People often search for online vintage clothing based on keywords like the brand name and the item size, cut, color, and material. Use these essential details in your item title and description.
- Use paid ads to promote your site
Once you’ve established yourself online and made a presence as a vintage clothing seller, it’s time to get more followers. Paid social media ads are a great way to do this. You can promote your site to certain types of users on Facebook and Instagram.
- Build an engaged online following
It’s important to refresh your content regularly, whether that’s with exciting news about your store, or simply updates about when your inventory is going to drop. No news is bad news, so generate a little bit of DIY publicity by telling people whenever you’ve made changes to your site, policy, approach, or life.
Don’t forget to engage with others, too. Ask questions, write back to people’s comments, share your personal journey and emotions along the way--make your site human and fun to be a part of.
Vintage Selling Guide - Final Thoughts
We cannot possibly cover every detail about selling vintage clothing online in a single blog post, but hopefully we’ve given you something to chew on. Don’t be afraid to take risks, but remember that it takes a commitment to see the sales start to roll in. Want to get inspired by the pros? Read how these five resellers are making over six figures on Depop.