Second-hand is the new brand-new, especially when it comes to clothes.
Not only is buying clothes second-hand more sustainable, but it can also help you save – a lot.
New research by second-hand marketplace Depop has found that, despite a cost of living crisis, 44% of 18-35 year olds in the UK are buying more clothing now than they did last year, spending an average around £1,248 per year on new clothing. In fact, 30% of respondents are spending at least double that.
In total, the research found that this age group is spending a collective average of £1.6 billion per month on fashion.
However, over half said they’d been turning to second -and shopping to save some money, and it’s paying off.
Those who buy second-hand estimate they are saving up to 25% per item. That’s an average of £2.8 billion a year across all purchases.
And the thing about second-hand fashion is, you can make even more money by selling it than you can save while buying it.
Depop’s research found that people who resell their clothes online could make anything from the average of £350 all the way up to £5,000 a year simply by selling the items lurking in their wardrobe.
It found that Gen Z users in particular are making an average of £437 per year selling pre-loved and secondhand clothes.
With our disposable income seeming to shrink by the week, cutting costs, and making extra money, without really having to change anything is extremely desirable.
But how can you make sure you get things right?
How to get value for money while buying second-hand online
Buying second-hand clothes on apps like Depop and Vinted can have the same effect, dopamine-wise, as filling up your basket and hitting ‘purchase’ on ASOS or PLT, except with the added knowledge that you’re helping the environment.
But the world of second-hand shopping can be tricky to navigate, and it can be difficult to know if you’re going to get value for your money, especially when you can’t try before you buy or get a refund.
Get as many images as possible
According to Alice Reed, stylist from BrandRated, there’s no such thing as too many photos.
‘Most reputable sellers will put up as many photos of the garment, including any imperfections, and provide a detailed product description,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.
‘If the listing is a tad lacklustre, or you’re doubting anything, don’t be afraid to contact the seller directly and ask for more information and photos of the garment.’
Use your skills
If you do find the perfect item of clothing, save for a small imperfection like a missing button or a tear, don’t be instantly put off – especially if you can sew.
‘Instead,’ says Alice, ‘think of this as an upcycling project.’
She says: ‘Most cosmetic issues can be easily rectified with just a needle and thread and can help prolong the life of your item even further, thus reducing the need to buy a similar item again.
‘However, it is wise to approach this cautiously and realistically: if you have never sewn a button on before, and don’t intend on trying, then buying something that needs fixing up is definitely not worth your time and money.’
That being said, you can also take clothes to a tailor – this also works for clothes that are slightly too big – and you’ll often still save more than you’d have spent buying something brand new.
Know your measurements
Given how much they fluctuate between retailers, clothes sizes are rarely reliable measures of whether something is going to fit you.
For this reason, Alice recommends taking your measurements and keeping note of them for when you’re shopping second-hand.
‘Make sure you measure your chest, waist and hips, and then match these sizes to the measurements provided for the item,’ she tells us.
‘If the seller has not posted the exact measurements and instead a rough size, then don’t be afraid to message the seller and ask to send photos of the measurements.
‘This will prevent you from spending money on something that simply doesn’t fit.’
Check the refund policy
Sites like Vinted, eBay and Depop provide protection for buyers, including refunds in the case of an item being inauthentic or completely different to how it was advertised (although this usually doesn’t apply to ill-fitting clothes).
‘Before making a purchase, make sure you check the website and the individual seller’s terms and conditions,’ says Alice.
‘So, who is responsible if something goes wrong? Are returns allowed and if so, who pays to send the item back?’
To add an extra layer of protection, she adds, when buying something above £100, you can claim a refund if the product is faulty or not as described, regardless of the seller’s policy, as long as you have made the purchase via credit card.
‘In addition, it is also worth using a service such as PayPal where you can open disputes through them in the instance of a faulty item,’ she says.
Use bundles – but only if it’s worth it
Finally, dome sellers on sites such as eBay and Depop offer a discount when you buy multiple items in one order, usually known as a bundle.
‘Bundles can seem like a great way to get more for your money, especially if you know you would eventually go back and buy the other items anyway, thus saving money on postage too,’ says Alice.
‘However, buying multiple items for a discount should be carefully considered to avoid unnecessary spending.’
It’s important to consider whether you really want the other item or you’re just buying it because there’s an offer: ‘if you realistically won’t use or wear the extra item then it’s simply a waste of money and causes you to end up with unwanted items,’ says Alice.
You also need to make sure the bundle is actually worth it.
‘This might seem obvious, but sellers can sometimes make a multibuy offer seem more enticing to get rid of excess stock, something that is especially true of second-hand and vintage shops that operate through pre-loved sites,’ says Alice.
‘To avoid this, check if buying the items altogether is really cheaper than buying them separately.’
How to make money by selling old clothes online
Don’t overdo it
Good images are vital for making sales on shops like Vinted and Depop, so it’s important to put some time and effort into photographing your items.
‘Keep it simple with clear photography,’ says Adwoa Owusu-Darko, a seller and Depop coach.
‘You definitely don’t need a professional set up, so long as the lighting is good and the background isn’t cluttered, you’re onto a winner.’
Remember, time is money
Selling on Depop is more than just clicking a button.
You need to take pictures, list your items, pack up your parcels and take them to the post office, as well as messaging people on the apps.
‘A lot of people price items without factoring in their work and labour,’ says Adwoa.
‘Listing, photography, shipping, customer service is all part of the cost of production so don’t just think about the item price – add a couple of pounds to reflect the work you’re putting into it.’
Have fun and experiment
‘If something isn’t working, don’t stress, change it up,’ says Adwoa.
‘Your store is your own so utilise that and don’t limit the fun you can have with your Depop shop.
‘Reduce the price or re-work the item if something isn’t selling – can a tee be made into a crop, for example? Can denim be altered or frayed to give it a new look?’
She adds that consistency and persistence wins: ‘If you only have a couple of items, spread out listing them over a couple of days,’ she says.
Do you have a story to share?
Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.