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ethical shopping

Fashion, Life & Style

Five Places to Shop for Secondhand Clothes Online

where to shop secondhand clothes online

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where to shop secondhand clothes online

A common theme in any discussion about ethical shopping and ethical fashion is that it’s far too expensive for the average person to shop ethically.  I won’t lie, ethical clothing does tend to be more expensive than it’s fast fashion, mass-produced counterparts, and there is simply no getting around the fact that if you want to buy ethically produced and fairly made clothing that respects the rights of the garment workers then you do need to spend a little more.

However, if you want to shop ethically on a tiny budget then don’t forget that the single most ethical and sustainable way to buy clothes is to shop secondhand.

If rummaging around a charity shop doesn’t sound appealing to you, or you’re too time poor to amble around your local charity shops, then there are heaps of ways to shop for preloved secondhand clothes online.  Here are five to start you off:

shop secondhand online

eBay

Ahh, eBay*, my old favourite.  I’m sure everyone knows what eBay is and does, but perhaps you haven’t used it yet.

eBay can be a veritable goldmine for secondhand clothes online, and anything you could ever want or need is on eBay.  To be honest, most of my online secondhand shopping, nay, most of my wardrobe has come from eBay.  It’s the first place I look when I’m in need of something, and a lot of times I don’t need to look any further than eBay.  It can be a little overwhelming for beginners so see my top eBay buying tips here.

I do have a few eBay niggles: photography quality can vary, and item specifics can be scant, depending on the seller.  Many sellers don’t offer a returns service, and you can only combine postage if you are buying multiple items from the same seller.  In the last few years, it also feels like eBay has become awash with brand new clothing direct from China, so you do have to be on your toes.  That being said, you can pick up some great bargains if you’re prepared to search and come back when the auction is ending to bid.

Oxfam Online

Want to shop secondhand but still support a charity?  Yes, you can shop Oxfam online*!  From women’s clothing and accessories, to mens, kids, and vintage clothes, everything that you can find in your local Oxfam shop is online.

Easy to navigate, you can filter by category, size, brand, price, colour, and condition.  So much so, I personally find things are easier to find on the Oxfam website rather than in-store!

Unlike eBay, where the photography can be hit or miss depending on the seller, everything on Oxfam is photographed well, from multiple angles, so you can get a clear view of your potential purchase.

Items are reasonably priced (although I feel a little more expensive than in store), and delivery is just £3.95, no matter how many items you order.  For extra peace of mind, returns are free, and you get the added bonus that your purchase is supporting a good cause.

Oxfam is also offering Moral Fibres readers 10% off donated and Sourced by Oxfam goods on the Oxfam online website until 19th June 2018.  Use the code OXMF10 at the checkout.  Please note this can only be used online, and not in your local charity shop.  For the full terms and conditions please see here.

Depop

Depop is new to me and I haven’t made a purchase yet, but I have spent a little while browsing the app, and I must save I have been enjoying its Instagram-meets-eBay style format.

What I do like about Depop for buying secondhand clothes online is that if you find something you like you can buy it straight away.  None of this having to remember to come back at a specific time on a specific day to bid, like with eBay.  With Depop’s fixed-price format you also know how much something is, which can make it easier to budget.  That being said, I think you are more likely to get a bargain with the eBay auction style format compared to Depop’s fixed price model.

I initially found it harder to find what I was looking for on Depop as the search function isn’t great.  Unlike eBay, sellers are allowed to use other brand names in their listing so trying to find an item from a specific brand via the search function can be quite tricky.  I found I was having to wade through a load of items until I happened to find the specific brand I was looking for.  Then I found the filter (on the search screen), which allows you to filter your search results based on category, size, brand and price.  This makes for a much better Depop experience!

Depop doesn’t encourage sellers to list item specifics so there is very limited information available – you will need to message sellers to find out what the item is made of, for example.

Vinted

Vinted is a new-ish site where you buy, sell and swap clothes, shoes, and accessories online.  It’s broadly similar to Depop, in that’s it a fixed price format, however, unlike eBay and Depop, where sellers pay to sell, on Vinted, buyers pay to buy.  Buyers pay a service fee of 3% to 8% of the item’s price, plus a “fixed fee” of 3op to 80p on top of their purchase.  Why the “fixed fee” is variable is something I don’t understand!

Vinted say that all buyer fees are clearly visible at the checkout, so there are no nasty surprises, and this fee covers payment processing and protection for your order, in-app postage options and tracking, and support from the Vinted team in case anything goes wrong.

I’m not too sure I’m a fan of the pay to buy format, and I dislike the sliding fee scale, which is only visible come checkout time (making it hard to budget as you are browsing) so I personally haven’t purchased from Vinted yet.

ASOS Vintage

If vintage is your bag then try ASOS Vintage* where you can browse thousands of quality vintage items for men and women.  You can filter by size, colour, style and material to hone down on a specific item.  Items are very well photographed, on actual models, which is something I always appreciate in order to anticipate how it might look on me!

When buying on ASOS vintage you do buy from individual sellers, so you will have to pay shipping on each individual item unless you buy from a single seller.

Have you shopped on any of these sites?  Would you recommend them?  Or have you shopped elsewhere for secondhand clothes online?  I’d love to hear!

Fashion, Life & Style

Is ethical clothing expensive?

cost of ethical clothing

Something I hear a lot from people is that they would love to shop more ethically, but ethical clothing is just too expensive.  And I do get that.  When money is tight it’s only natural to want that budget to spread as far as possible.

Is ethical clothing expensive though?  When you look at it on the surface, yes, ethical clothing is expensive.  This $120 dress (approximately £89 at time of writing), by Everlane, whose business model is based on ‘radical transparency’ (but apparently not THE most ethical of options), is pretty similar to this £12.90 dress from a company with a low ethical rating.  Why would you spend £76 more on a dress that’s pretty similar?  It’s hard to make the maths add up.

ethical clothing too expensive

When you sit and think about that £12.90 dress though, you begin to think how manufacturers can possibly make a dress for £12.90, and still make a profit.  If you’ve ever tried to make your own clothing you’ll know it’s pretty tricky to make a dress for that amount of money.  By the time you’ve bought the fabric and the pattern, and the thread and any zips or buttons, and the electricity to power your sewing machine, you may well have reached or exceeded that amount, before even accounting for the cost of your own time.

Rather than saying that ethical clothing is expensive, I would argue that the rise of fast fashion retailers have caused us to lose our sense of perspective, and our benchmarks and baselines on what is expensive.

You would expect to pay more for something now than in say, 1980, wouldn’t you?

Since the 1980’s the cost of housing, rent, food, fuel and other consumables has risen, in some cases dramatically.  In 1980 the average cost of a home was £23,000 (around £89,000 in today’s money), whilst by the end of 2016, the average price of a home was £205,000 according to the same report.  The Telegraph reports that lager has increased in price by 336%, whilst a loaf of sliced white bread has increased in price by 235% and eggs by 286%.

It goes without saying then that you would expect to go into a shop and buy an item of clothing that was considerably more expensive now than it was in 1980.

What has actually happened with clothing is that since the 1980s, instead of rising in price in line with inflation, clothes prices have fallen and fallen to the point we’re at now where you get sites like everything5pounds.com – where every single item of clothing, including shoes, are just £5.

Prior to the 1980’s the majority of clothing was made domestically.  I’ve struggled to find UK based data, but the New York Times reported in 2009 that in the 1960s, the United States made 98% of its shoes.  They stated that in 2009 it was a completely different picture, with the US importing more than 90% of its footwear.  This is more than likely mirrored in clothing manufacture too.

The reason for this outsourcing is that in the 1980s clothing manufacturers realised they could manufacture abroad, in places where they could pay workers considerably less, and where workers could work longer hours in poorer conditions.  This meant ultimately meant greater profits for manufacturers, and lower prices for consumers.

We’re now so used to cheap clothes that have flooded the market since the 1980’s, that this has artificially driven down the value of clothing.  If you’re in your forties or younger you’ll have grown up in an age where clothing has gotten cheaper and cheaper.  You won’t, or will barely remember a time when clothing wasn’t cheap.  Yet going back to the £89 Everlane dress, I suspect that this is more like what the average dress should cost in 2018, if not more.

cost of ethical clothing

It’s also quite clear the impact that the mass production of clothing overseas has had on household spending.  I’ve again struggled to find UK statistics, but census data from the US shows that in the 1950’s households spent 12% of their annual income on clothing.  Fast forward to 2015, and it was reported that households spent just 3.5% of their annual income on clothing, even though Americans are buying more clothes than ever before.  The same article reports that in 1930, the average American woman owned nine outfits, whilst in 2015 that figure was 30 outfits – one for every day of the month.

More worryingly, another report suggests the average item of clothing is worn just seven times before being discarded.  Cheaper prices mean consumers value their clothes less.

So what’s the answer?  I’m not entirely sure.  We can’t suddenly turn the clock back 40 years.  And by suddenly removing manufacture from the countries that depend on clothing manufacture for the overseas market wouldn’t be good for those countries economies.  In 2014 the ready-made garment industry represented 81.13% of Bangladesh’s total export, and of the 4 million workers employed by this industry, 85% are illiterate women from rural villages.

I think part of the answer lies in our relationship with clothing.  Buying less; not buying into trends, and investing in quality timeless pieces are more than likely the way forward.   I’ve written in length about these aspects of consumerism – but in a nutshell ethical fashion isn’t expensive when you factor in the cost per wear of a quality made item, versus a poorly made fast fashion item of clothing that falls to bits after just a few wears.

As consumers, we also have to act more responsibly.  Youtube haul videos with vloggers boasting to impressionable young viewers about how many cheap items of clothing they’ve bought only perpetuate the cheap disposable clothing myth.

Another part of it voting with your wallet. If more and more people shopping with more responsible retailers then this sends a clear message to retailers that they have to up their game and make their clothes more ethically.

Perhaps we have to work on regaining our sense of perspective when it comes to the cost of clothes. Spending more on each individual item of clothing we buy and spending better, but buying far fewer items of clothing is the only way to re-establish sensible baselines on what constitutes as expensive and what constitutes as good quality.

This article originally appeared on Huffington Post.