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Beginner's guide to selling clothes second hand

Is it time for your former favorites to find a new owner? Read our best tips for a smoother and more profitable deal, both for you as a seller and for your buyer.

Choosing where to sell

Today, there are plenty of services where you can sell your clothes second hand. The online market is dominated by popular services like Facebook Marketplace, Vestiaire Collective, Tise, and Sellpy. If you sell through Vestiaire Collective or a local niche vintage store, their commission* rates tend to be high (at least 40%) – but in return, all you need to do is hand in your clothes.

Advertising and selling on your own via online apps is often cheaper, and you are sometimes offered some help with the shipping – but you will have to do most of the work yourself.

Selling peer-to-peer on Facebook groups is free, and since most well-respected and popular groups have strict rules, you will reach the right audience. But be prepared to do all the work yourself and pay for your own shipping.

5 tips when selling second hand

1. Spruce up: Wash, steam and remove pills

Refresh your garment before reselling it. Wash, remove pills, cut off loose threads, and steam as needed to bring the pre-loved garment to its full potential for the next owner.

Trimming off loose threads from a garment using scissors

2. Spark interest with the right description

Always write the specific brand and model name in your ad. Specify what material the garment is made of, especially if it is an exclusive textile like wool or silk. Include tips like “goes nicely with…” or “match together with…” to paint a livelier image for potential buyers.

Be sure to include sizes and measurements. Measurements are especially appreciated when selling pants or jeans since cuts and designs will vary a lot depending on the brand.

Measurements to include:
  • Pants and jeans: waist and inside leg length (measure across the waist and at the inside of the leg).
  • Dresses: length and sleeve length (from top to bottom and from the armpit to the cuff).
  • Skirts: waist and length.
  • Jackets and coats: length from collar to hem, and sleeve length.
  • Shoes: inside length and if they’re considered narrow, normal or wide (you can often find this information at the manufacturer’s websites).

Delicate Laundry Detergent and a Pilo 1 Fabric Shaver

3. Describe the condition in detail

With second hand purchases, everyone understands the clothes are used. But for the sake of transparency, always mention if there are stains and where they are located (or better yet, take a photo). Mention if there are any loose hems or threads. Also be sure to describe what is good about the garment – you don’t want to scare people off.

Useful phrases to describe a garment's condition:
  • NWT (New With Tags) – unused garments with the label still attached can be described like this.
  • New: there is no evidence the garment has been worn at all.
  • Good, used condition: nice colors, no loose threads or stains, but it has been used and washed.
  • Used, but still has a lot to offer – this is a positive way of describing a garment with defects or with evident traces of being worn.

Steaming a dress with Cumulus Home Steamer

Add info about how you have taken care of the garment:
  • Inform if you have been using an unscented detergent and fabric softener or not (especially appreciated by people with sensitive noses or allergies).
  • If you are a pet owner (appreciated by people with allergies).
  • If the garment has been dry-cleaned recently.
  • Whether you are a smoker or not.

4. Taking appealing photos

You will need various kinds of photos for your ad. Use your mobile camera and shoot with the flash turned off and preferably in daylight. Place your garment in front of a neutral background. Next to a window is a good start but be mindful where you place the garment – you want to avoid hard shadows or backlight.

Helpful pictures to include in the ad:
  • One full image of the garment.
  • One product image that will display how it looks on (just google), or include a photo of you wearing it as an alternative.
  • Pictures that show any defects.
  • A picture of the care label (as a potential buyer, you may want to know how to take care of the garment).

A newly steamed wrinkle-free dress

5. Smooth shipping

Reuse old packages (like brown paper bags, stapled together, or old shoe boxes) or specific mailing bags easily found online, and please consider using a courier that offers traceable shipping, as this is safer for you and the buyer.

Packing the dress into a parcel envelope

Sound like too much work? Once you have made a habit of it, it’s not that complicated. But if the workload sounds stressful, it may be wiser to leave it to the professionals.

*Selling on commission means you are paid once the store has sold your garment. This is a standard setup for most secondhand stores. On the plus side, the turnover rate is high, and garments are often sold within a few days (or not at all).

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