Inflation this, cost of living that, simply breathing these days feels like it's costing money.
To cope with increasing financial burdens, many people are turning to side hustles including selling their clothing online. Often our closet loses its lustre and we feel like we have nothing to wear because our pieces seem tired or over-worn but that doesn't mean someone else would feel that way.
The secondhand market is thriving with more opportunities to thrift clothing than ever before and there are designated sellers popping up in Vancouver all the time. These businesses are carving out niches for themselves all over the city in different areas like luxury fashion, pre-loved Y2K, vintage clothing, and streetwear. They are curating secondhand clothing in such a way that these pieces are given a second life and their value is reframed to make them seem desirable again.
Recycling and revitalizing clothing in this way is more environmentally responsible than simply disposing of it but it can also generate revenue if done right. It also doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing process, there are plenty of ways for people to casually dabble in selling their clothes to make a bit of money on the side.
Selling through a consignment store
There are consignment stores in Vancouver that will sell your clothing on your behalf and then offer a commission when the piece sells. The majority of them only accept luxury pieces but Turnabout and Front & Company will take other high street brands so long as they are in good condition and aren't fast fashion.
Turnabout will only accept items with a recognizable label that are in season (so if you have summer dresses to sell it's better to wait until next spring to bring them in). They don't necessarily need to be designer, but, ideally, the brands are on-trend like Aritizia, Anthropologie, Zara, Free People, or Lululemon. Turnabout also requires pieces to be a maximum of three years old but preferably one or two years. They offer a 30 to 60 per cent buy-out in store credit, cash, cheque, paypal or e-transfer if people just want to sell their clothes and wash their hands of them or people can consign for 40 to 80 per cent of the selling price. Whatever is consigned but doesn't sell by the end of the season can be returned to you or donated.
Front and Company has similar policies to Turnabout but potential consigners must make an appointment and can't bring more than two bags of clothes to sell (nothing on hangers). The appointment section of their website includes a list of seasonal items that they are looking for at a given time. They do accept vintage pieces but they have to be in mint condition and currently, they're looking for colourful glassware, wall hangings and tapestries, and kitschy ceramics.
Consigners typically receive 40 per cent of the sale price on items that sell in the first 30 days and after the price drops by 20 per cent. After 60 days items are donated unless previously discussed.
Handing things over to a consignment store is a good idea because you don't have to do any of the work but can still collect the money and you get to benefit from the store's existing reputation, customer base, and curation expertise. But for people who have the patience and want to retain full control over their clothes, there are online options worth exploring.
Selling clothes online
Selling clothes on your own can be a major time investment and there have been arguments made that taking on that project just isn't worth the money you make but that doesn't need to be the case. Vancouver-based Poshmark seller, Kelsey Dech says, "Sure, sales can ebb and flow but time and time again, I've made enough money to cover a few recurring bills and that's always a good feeling."
There are lots of other options out there for selling clothes like Facebook Marketplace, Vestiaire Collective, and Depop but overwhelmingly everyone I have spoke to has said Poshmark which launched in Canada in 2019 is the easiest platform to have success on.
One of my friends referred to Depop as "the Wild West" while another said she found Facebook difficult because people don’t show up to collect items or try to haggle at the last second. Poshmark, on the other hand, streamlines the process to feel like traditional online shopping by giving sellers suggestions on how to price their items and letting them know in advance how much shipping is going to cost and how much they will make from each sale. When someone buys an item sellers are sent a shipping label and drop their items off at the local post office, that's it.
How to get clothes to sell quickly
Customers are also given the opportunity to return items if they don't like them or if the listing wasn't reflective of the actual garment so it's important to be as detailed as possible when listing, describe the colour, embellishments, measurements, and any flaws—whether there is pilling, small holes, uneven seams, or stains.
"I also recommend photographing your items in a well-lit area and capturing it from multiple angles," advises Dech, "For example, if a dress has a cool back detail, make sure you're capturing that. Shopping from a screen can be tricky for some so you want to make their shopping experience as easy and seamless as possible."
Taking photos from all angles, editing them, and taking measurements can take up quite a bit of time and sometimes people just can't be bothered, especially if it's going to sit in your online closet for months before someone bites. Dech suggests, "When it comes to selling, I'm more about quality over quantity so I'm only listing items that are from notable brands (e.g. I find Aritzia to be quite a sought-after brand on Poshmark), in great condition and are trendy or timely silhouettes."
Fast fashion just doesn't resell well, in any context people aren't looking for secondhand Shein when it can be bought so cheaply new. That's something to keep in mind not just when selling clothes but also when buying new pieces. Your wardrobe will have longevity both in your possession and someone else's if you invest in well-made timeless clothing to begin with.