Oh, hello there! It's you! I didn't see you there, beneath that behemoth pile of fine and fashionable vintage clothing you seem to be drowning under. What's that? You'll have to speak up--it's hard to hear you underneath all the Shaheen's.
Oh! Help, you say?
Not to worry, here, let me help you lighten your load for a moment here. It takes just a few moments and we'll have you back up right and breathing freely in no time.
There we are! Straighten out your backseams and adjust your victory curls and you'll be back good as new. It really can be that easy to clear your clutter and your mind when it comes to selling your fine vintage clothing. Here's how.
Whether you're looking to sell the collection yourself, or enlist the help of a professional vintage dealer like Sputnik's Vintage, there are a multitude of ways you can lighten your load of vintage clothing these days. Here are a few options:
YOU CAN SELL YOUR CLOTHES ONLINE
There's several different avenues to vintage clothing online these days. Each come with pros and cons, so it really comes down to your preference of what works for you and where your customer is shopping.
ETSY: PROS: There's a built-in world-wide community of customers who go to Etsy's online marketplace just for vintage clothing. This includes collectors who understand the value of and are willing to pay for rare or designer vintage. Etsy has a mobile app which makes it incredibly easy to upload your listings and manage your sales from your phone. Its user interface is intuitive and relatively easy to use. It gives the budding and even seasoned seller several benefits of having your own website without the start up cost. The site even has a community for sellers and their Seller Handbook has a variety of articles on how to sell your items effectively.
CONS: You get less choices than if you ran your own website entirely, however with that trade off you have access to their large customer base. Etsy takes a percentage of your sales It takes a few days to get paid, depending on the day the item sells and how long your bank takes to allow access to your funds. US sellers get ranked higher in searches if they offer free shipping in the US. If there is a customer dispute, Etsy customer service is often biased to side with the customer and can refund them without your permission.
eBAY PROS: eBay is the granddaddy of selling secondhand goods online. If you have a particularly rare piece of vintage with a coveted status, putting the item up for auction allows collectors to have more time to see the item (typically 7 days) and the item goes to the highest bidder, which some argue is the fairest way to handle who gets it, as opposed to the first-to-check-out-wins model of Etsy. The website's uploading process is fairly easy to use and understand and the mobile app allows for you to manage everything, even shipping, from your phone. You can even sell a large collection in bulk on eBay, versus selling items individually. You often get paid instantly via PayPal as soon as the buyer pays.
CONS: If you get a bidding war going, eBay can be great for drumming up average to high retail prices for your sales. However, in my personal experience, it's more common that eBay buyers are looking for good deals and items priced under the market value. Sometimes a buyer will win a bid but will take days to pay for the item they won, or disappear completely. If there is a customer dispute, Etsy customer service is often biased to side with the customer and can refund them without your permission.
FACEBOOK PROS: Facebook has a variety of ways in which you can sell your vintage pieces. You can use their Marketplace section of the site which is sorted by your location so you can sell to local customers in your area. This is great for heavier items or fragile items you don't want to ship. You can also sell in their thousands of buy/sell groups which cater to specific collectors worldwide. There are groups for all different types of specific vintage subcultures and collectors; such as Gunne Sax dress collectors, pre-1965 novelty print collectors and there's Ooh La La, the titanic of 1920s to mid-century vintage collector online groups.
CONS: Each group has their own rules and customs, so be sure to read and follow every group you join's selling rules and codes of conduct. Some groups are more cautious than others so you may find yourself slapped on the wrist or even banned from the group if you violate one of their rules. If you are shipping the item to the buyer, you will need to handle your own invoicing/payments and familiarize yourself with how to ship effectively. You'll need to learn how to properly charge for shipping so you don't over charge customers and detract them, or undercharge and screw yourself out of pocket. It's not currently a reality but there is the potential that Facebook may start to charge you to buy and sell on their site. It wouldn't be the first time the company pulled a bait-and-switch on companies, like they did with their Fan Pages.
INSTAGRAM PROS: You're essentially a free agent buy selling on your own Instagram page--your page, your rules. You decide and enforce how you sell and who you sell to. If you already have a large, engaged following, this may be the route for you. Messaging directly with your client to sell can build rapport and connection that a sterile checkout experience on a site can't create the same way.
CONS: You'll need to build your own following, organically. This can be a slow process and takes consistent, daily, effort and engagement. And thanks to Instagram's ever-changing algorithm, you may only reach a small percentage of each of those followers unless they actively engage with you (and you with them!) on a regular basis. Much like selling in Facebook's groups, you'll need to handle your own invoicing/payment processing and your own shipping procedures. Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, the same possibility of Instagram charging for sales down the line is worth noting.
RESELL APPS PROS: New sales-based apps pop up often and their dominion in the resell world ebb and flow. As of this writing, Poshmark remains one of the pioneer apps that still have an active buying market. One benefit is it is specifically for fashionable clothing and accessories. While the majority of users are there for modern and trendy brand name fashion, there is a vintage fashion section on Poshmark.
CONS: While it is possible to receive retail prices on a resell app, the point of these apps for many buyers is to get a good deal. So often buyers are on these apps looking for bargains. Some of the apps, like Poshmark, even encourage haggling on already relatively low prices so be ready for haggling and low offers and be prepared for higher value items to sit for a while.
Regardless of where you decide to sell, or even using a combination of a few of these locations, you'll want to follow the following tips for selling your vintage items online.
HAVE GOOD PHOTOS
Use photos that show the full item; one of the front and one of the back. Then, take photos of any details that are desirable or appealing or unique about the item.
You may know how amazing this piece is but someone on the other side of the computer screen doesn't just yet. Good pictures help illustrate how awesome your item is to your customer.
You can put the item on a dress form, or your can put it on a live model. Wherever you put your dress form or model, make sure the background is clean, free from clutter and has good studio or natural lighting to properly showcase your pretty pieces.
Finally, but equally importantly, take clear photos of any flaws the item may have. This is essential in developing trust with clients, preventing headaches down the line such as returns, losing clients, negative reviews or a poor selling reputation in the community. Be as transparent and detailed as possible!
USE ACCURATE & CLEAR DESCRIPTIONS
While the picture catches the attention of the customer, often it's the descriptions that help them to decide to buy or not. You want to make that decision easier to reach the right buyer and let the buyer who's not suited for that particular item pass.
Include measurements of the item. You'll want to include the following measurements, wherever applicable, in inches: Bust/Chest (measured arm pit to arm pit), Waist, Hips, Length measured from the shoulder seam to the bottom of the hemline. If there is any selvedge (the extra fabric sometimes found inside the garment), be sure to mention that with a measurement, too!
Explain the features and benefits of the item. What makes it unique? What interesting or unusual designs or features does it have? What does it do that will benefit the customer? Does it have pockets?!
History sells: Do you know where this item came from? Who was the original owner? Do you have a picture of them in it? One of the amazing things about vintage is the fact it had a past life--anything you can do to illustrate that for the next buyer is a benefit! If you don't know anything about the original owner, perhaps you could talk about the designer. For example: Did you know Don Loper, who made this shirt, helped make Polka Dots synonymous with Lucille Ball when he worked as a designer on the I Love Lucy show? Is there an original advertisement you can share that shows the garment in action, like this Cole of California swimsuit and this advertisement?
SHIP IN A TIMELY & SAFE MANNER
After your item has sold (congratulations!) it's now time to ship your item. Here are a few things to keep in mind while sending your item off to its next life.
Pack your item neatly in tissue or wrapping paper. Feel free to personalize the package with colorful or decorative wrapping. You can add in small trinkets or even a letter to show token of thanks and to help you stand out from the crowd.
Be sure to take the steps neccecery to ensure your item arrives safely. Use common sense to use bubble wrap, or mailing air pouches to properly protect any fragile items. Mark clearly on the box if your item is fragile. Put any rare or delicate items in weatherproof shipping envelopes or inside plastic and then place them in the shipping boxes.
Familiarize yourself with international shipping customs and rates and note there are often different packages you can or should use that differ between domestic and international shipping rates. Your country's postal carrier's website can explain these differences.
If you're shipping from and within the United States, the US Postal Service can send you free shipping boxes and envelopes directly to your door. Simply order free shipping containers from their website.
Make sure your buyer receives the shipping tracking information as soon as you have it so they have peace of mind their item is on the way to them. If for some reason the item is going in the mail any later than three days after it was purchased, you'll want to communicate with the seller there was a delay and assure them it's on its way once it's finally in the mail. It's true that life happens sometimes and things come up but the sooner the item gets in the mail and on its way to your client, the happier you both will be.
YOU CAN SELL YOUR CLOTHES TO A STORE
You can search in your area for second hand stores that offer consignment or buy clothing. Buffalo Exchange is a chain with over 50 stores in the US and you can also sell to them by mail if you aren't near one. They sell at approximately 30 percent of what they sell the item for (which is often below the market value of vintage) or 50 percent in store credit.
Depending on where you're located, you may have similar independent stores near you. Some Buy/Sell/Trade stores or consignment stores, like Crossroads Trading Company, only deal with current fashions and don't take vintage at all, regardless if it's a designer piece. Be sure to call ahead to make sure the store deals in vintage fashion first.
Wherever you decided to take your pieces, make sure you've taken the time to clean, iron and repair any imperfections your clothing may have acquired over the decades. No matter how cool or rare the item is, it's unlikely any consignment or buy/sell/trade store will have the will or resources to repair or de-wrinkle any pieces. They need to be in hanger-ready condition.
You might be saying, "This is all great information, but I don't have time for all this!" Or, "It sounds like a lot of work!" If that's the case, you may want to consider consigning your items to a professional vintage clothing dealer. You can set up a free call or visit with Sputnik's Vintage here and we can show you how we can help give you some much needed space and spending cash while giving your clothing with excited collectors around the world who will cherish your pieces in their next journey of life.
You can sell your pieces wholesale in bulk and receive cash up front. Or you can sell them on consignment and receive almost twice as much money for each item, receiving the cash as each item sells.
With either option, Sputnik's saves you the headache of repairing, photographing, listing, marketing, shipping, selling your pieces so you get your cash in pocket with less work for your already busy schedule.
And we can do this from anywhere in the world. Simply send photos of your items or set up a video call with us and we can help you sell your vintage clothing.
Looking for more information on selling your vintage fashion to Sputnik's? Learn how the process works here.
Sellers, let us know what you think in the comments below! What advice would you add for someone looking to sell vintage clothing for the first time?