Some people swear by second hand clothes, and the proliferation of stores selling them since the mid-aughts has proven that vintage is indeed big business.
But how often have you walked into a vintage store to find rails of tacky 1980s-era (not in a good way) jackets, seemingly endless piles of overpriced plaid shirts, and other assorted nylon and polyester horrors that are really best banished to the recycling pile?
Far too often, the good things about vintage – you can nab a bargain, it’s an ethical way to shop, and you’ve got a better chance of finding something ‘one-off’ that nobody else has – are marred by exorbitant prices, ugly shop interiors and identikit rails packed tuna-like with merchandise which was bad back in the day, let alone now.
But it needn’t be that way. This is where online ‘consignment’ (a predominantly American moniker for second hand or discount) stores have come into their own. Ever wondered what happens to all that old season stock, or those instant sell-out items from that limited edition collaboration a few years ago? More often than not, you’ve got a good chance of tracking them down on the internet.
If you’ve never shopped online for second hand wares before, be warned: it’s slightly addictive in its greatness, providing you with a relatively easy way of snapping up bargains and cultivating a collection from your favourite designers’ and brands’ back catalogues.
Where Do I Start?
There are roughly two types of vintage: ‘true’ vintage, i.e. items from the 1990s and earlier (mostly the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s); and second hand, which could be anything from the late nineties up to last season.
Online marketplace eBay is a solid first stop to start your hunting. This is mostly down to its sheer size, but also due to the fact that many individuals – not fully appreciating the value of the item they’re selling or making mistakes during the listing process – undersell their wares, so you can really grab some cut-price deals. Especially when you consider that websites such as FatFingers guide you in the direction of listings with mistakes or misspellings to better your chances of picking up something premium for just 99p.
While eBay’s well known for vintage designer garb, it really comes into its own for high street items. Got your eye on a pair of chinos from Topman or H&M? You might be able to pick them up, worn once or even new, for a snip on eBay. Plenty of retailers like Office also sell surplus shop stock on the site.
Online Vintage Guidelines
A couple of caveats before you start browsing the recommended stores below:
- Vintage sizing can prove problematic, so take a few items out of your wardrobe and measure them to get an idea of stuff that already fits; you’ll be better informed when poring over the measurements of potential purchases and assessing whether or not they’ll fit well.
- Be careful of counterfeits – it’s best to buy from a site that authorises items before selling them on to you.
- Don’t be too put off by minor scuffs, tears or stains; there are plenty of great tailors, cobblers and leather repair shops that can make a vintage bargain look brand new again.
Recommended: ASOS Marketplace
A mix of ASOS users selling items from their own wardrobe and the online arms of boutiques and vintage stores, ASOS Marketplace has a huge following. The Marketplace uses a similar system to ASOS, so customer service and delivery are as professional as you’d expect from the e-tail giant.
With reasonable prices, a vast selection and an easy to use search function, it’s the reliable bread and butter option of the vintage world.
Price Range: Under £100.
Best For: Vintage staples like denim, Hawaiian and plaid shirts, as well as track and bomber jackets.
- Levis Levis Vintage Blue Denim Jacket
- Adidas 80s Vintage Sports Shell Suit Tracksuit Jacket
- Carhartt Carhartt Vintage Beige Worker Jacket
- Ralph Lauren Vintage Ralph Lauren Shirt
- Levis Vintage Denim Shirt
- Vintage 90s Checked Print Flannel Shirt
- Ralph Lauren Vintage Polo Jumper
- Paul Smith 90s Corduroy Mustard Short Sleeve Shirt
- Ralph Lauren Ralph Lauren 90s Harrington Jacket
This app has been described as a cross between eBay and Instagram; users take Insta-style images of their merchandise, which you can then make offers on.
There’s a 1990s, old-school sportswear-inspired vibe to most of the stock but plenty of international sellers list hard to find designer items on there, and the fact that it’s new means prices are slightly lower than competitors.
One word of warning: we’ve spotted fakes in the past so stay vigilant.
Price Range: Mostly inexpensive, from £5 upwards.
Best For: Trainers, vintage sportswear (think The North Face, Fila, Nike and adidas), accessories.
Yoox is sort of like stumbling on an enormous sample sale that has just been ravaged by a horde of bloodthirsty, bargain-hunting shoppers.
There are thousands of things you’ll want, but it’s messy and difficult to navigate. It’s worth persevering though, as the site has developed a reputation and huge cult following for selling designer labels at rock bottom prices. It’s especially good for Italian brands, tailoring and shoes.
Our tip? Postage usually comes in around the £10 mark, but if you can wait it’s worth holding off until they have one of their frequent free worldwide shipping weeks. There really is something for everyone on this site, and they have some ‘pop-up’ sales you won’t want to miss, too.
Price Range: From £10 for a Topman shirt, into the hundreds for items from the likes of Brioni, Givenchy and Prada.
Best For: Designer labels, shoes and Italian tailoring.
- Lanvin Blazer
- Boglioli Blazer
- Burberry London Blazer
- Nudie Jeans
- Polo Ralph Lauren Casual Trousers
- Surface To Air Casual Trousers
- Adidas High Tops
- Churchs Shoes
- Tods Moccasins
Recommended: Vestiaire Collective
A social shopping ‘collective’, this French site allows its members to sell premium designer clothing, accessories and even fine watches. It’s easy to navigate and use and items are even verified for authenticity before they make their way to you so as to weed out counterfeit clobber.
Customer service and packaging are top-notch, and the sleek design makes it feel like a true luxury experience. You can negotiate on prices, and there are new arrivals every day, with each piece being hand-picked by the site to create more of a bespoke feel.
Price Range: Anything from £40 for a pair of Nike or adidas trainers up to thousands for a Rolex or Cartier watch.
Best For: Browsing and wardrobe-building, fine watches, trainers and the odd bargain.
- Philipp Plein Leather Jacket
- Paul Smith Wool Bomber Jacket
- Zara Cotton Sweatshirt
- Comme Des Garcons T-shirt
- Saint Laurent Cotton Jumper
- Louis Vuitton Blue Leather Bag
- Jaeger-lecoultre Python Print Watch
- D&g Brown Suede And Leather Trainers
- Iro Beige Suede Boots
Shipping worldwide, this US online store is as much a source of visual inspiration as it is a shop. If you’re into high-end streetwear, then you’re in for a treat; here, you can find ultra-rare gems from Japanese labels like White Mountaineering and Number (N)ine, through to accessories from A.P.C. and coveted sneakers from Raf Simons and Visvim.
The whole experience is a bit like rifling through an impossibly cool friend’s wardrobe, and the prices aren’t half-bad either.
Price Range: $60 – $1000.
Best For: Rare and hard to find pieces from cult labels.
- Comme Des Garcons Homme – Fw96 Bonded Wool Neoprene Coat
- Patrik Ervell – Baby Alpaca Police Sweater
- A.p.c. – Petit Standard Noir Selvedge
- Engineered Garments – Workaday 5 Pocket Cords
- Number Nine – Fw07 Nub Wool Melton Peacoat
- Raf Simons – Fw12 Gradient Boxy Tee
- Number Nine – Etched Oxidized Titanium Bangle
- Oliver Peoples – Vintage Op-26 Ag Frames With Clip
- Sasquatchfabrix – Big Pinking Sneakers
One of the best things about quality consignment sites is that they’re a means of developing your own personal style – an alternative to dramatically marked-up current designer collections and generic high street garb.
The more you look through sites like the ones above, the more you’ll discover one-off items, learn more about clothing, get an idea of value and buy into something with a bit of history.
Be prepared to invest a little time but, trust us, the return on investment is not to be sniffed at.
Do you buy from online consignment stores? Any you’d recommend bookmarking?
Share your tips and experiences in the comments section below.