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Ethical Fashion

Ethical Fashion, Life & Style

Nine Places to Shop for Secondhand Clothes Online in 2022

where to shop secondhand clothes online

Wondering where the best places to shop for secondhand clothes online are? Here are nine sites that make online shopping easy!

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 its fast fashion, mass-produced counterparts.

There is simply no getting around the fact that if you want to buy ethically produced and fairly made new 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.

Where to Shop for Secondhand Clothes Online

Shopping secondhand isn’t always easy.  Maybe rummaging around a charity shop doesn’t sound appealing to you. Or perhaps you’re too time-poor to amble around your local charity shops. Maybe it’s impossible to find the sizes you want in your average charity shop.  Whatever the barrier, the good news is that there are heaps of ways to shop for preloved secondhand clothes online.  Here are nine online stores to start you off:

shop secondhand online

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eBay

Ahh, eBay*.  eBay is possibly one of my favorite places to shop for secondhand clothes online.

I’m sure everyone knows what eBay is and does, but perhaps you haven’t used it yet.  Well, eBay can be a veritable goldmine for secondhand clothes online.  I feel like 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.  A lot of the time I don’t need to look any further than eBay.  However, eBay 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.

You definitely do need to be on your toes with eBay.  That being said, you can pick up some great bargains if you’re prepared to search.  And particularly if you are prepared to come back when the auction is ending to bid.  The good news is that in the last few years, more and more sellers have started to offer Buy It Now options.  This allows you to bypass the auction format completely.

Oxfam Online

Want to shop secondhand but still support a charity?  Try Oxfam online*!  Here you’ll find women’s clothing and accessories, as well as men’s, kid’s, and vintage secondhand clothes online.  Essentially, 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!  I’ve also found women’s clothing going up to a size 28, which can be hard to find in-store.

Unlike eBay, where the photography can be hit or miss depending on the seller, everything on Oxfam is photographed well.  Everything is shot 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.  It’s made up by the fact that delivery is just £3.95, no matter how many items you order.  For extra peace of mind, returns are free.  You also get the added bonus that your purchase is supporting Oxfam’s work to alleviate global poverty.

Depop

Depop is new to me and I haven’t made a purchase yet.  I have spent a little while browsing the app though, and I must say, 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. This can make it much 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 listings.  This meant that 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. That was until I happened to find the filter (on the search screen).  This allows you to filter your search results based on category, size, brand, and price.  This makes for a much better Depop experience!

My big niggle is that Depop doesn’t encourage sellers to list item specifics. This means 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 30p to 80p on top of their purchase.  Why the “fixed fee” is variable is something I don’t understand!

Vinted says that all buyer fees are clearly visible at the checkout, so there are no nasty surprises.  They say 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.  I also 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 the shipping on each individual item unless you buy from a single seller.

Etsy Secondhand Clothes Online

where to shop secondhand clothes online

Etsy* is a veritable goldmine for secondhand clothes online. From vintage clothing for every occasion (even wedding dresses) to secondhand clothing that has been upcycled by creative artists. If you are in the UK, my top tip is to use the filter to only search for shops within the UK to avoid potentially pricey customs charges.

Rokit

Rokit* has a vast collection of pre-worn vintage & designer secondhand clothes in the UK that can be bought online. From sports, street, designer to vintage, whatever your style, Rokit stocks it. And with a vast inventory, covering sizes XXS to XXL, Rokit’s size inclusivity is something to applaud.

Every item is cleaned and pressed before being added to the web page or sent to the store, meaning no nasty surprises either.

They have also developed our own Rokit Originals Range. This is a collection of reworked vintage pieces. This gives a new life to old garments and creates new items to be loved over the long term, keeping old clothes out of landfill.

Beyond Retro

Beyond Retro* is an online treasure trove of vintage and secondhand clothing for men and women, carefully sourced from around the world. You can shop by clothing type, by brand, by era, and even by type of fabric should you wish to avoid synthetic fibres. What’s more, Beyond Retro also has dedicated plus-size sections for both men and women, catering up to size XXL. There is also the ability to search for unisex clothing.

Use the exclusive code MORALFIBRES at the checkout to receive 15% off your order at Beyond Retro.

Vestiaire Collective

Vestiaire Collective*, a certified B-corp, resells men’s, women’s, and kids’ designer and luxury fashion. Each item sold on the site undergoes a rigorous authentication process before being sent to you so that you can shop with confidence. If you want to get a designer wardrobe at a fraction of the price, then Vestiaire Collective is the place to go. Browse by brand. Browse by clothing type. Or browse by size – it’s easy to find what you are looking for.

Take £20 off your first order over the value of £150 by applying the discount code WELCOMEUK22 at the checkout.

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! And if you are looking to sell clothes, then do check out my guide to selling secondhand clothes online.

If it’s vintage clothing you are looking for, do check out my guide on the best places to buy vintage clothing online.

Ethical Fashion, Life & Style

Why Is Ethical Clothing Expensive Compared to Fast Fashion?

cost of ethical clothing

Have you ever wondered why is ethical clothing expensive? I would argue that we’re asking the wrong question. Shouldn’t we be asking why is fast fashion so cheap?

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?

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) is made by Everlane, whose business model is based on ‘radical transparency’ (but apparently not THE most ethical of options). It is pretty similar to this £12.90 dress from Uniqlo – 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 then the thread and any zips or buttons. And the electricity to power your sewing machine, you may well have reached or exceeded that amount. That’s before even accounting for the cost of your own time. And that’s before you’ve accounted for the cost of the space to make the clothes.

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. I would say we need to ask why fast fashion, instead, is so cheap.

Prices Go Up, Don’t They?

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.

Meanwhile, The Telegraph reports that over the same period 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. When it comes to fast fashion, compared to ethical clothing, this is actually no longer the case.

Why Has Clothing Decreased In Price?

What has actually happened with clothing is that since the 1980s, instead of rising in price in line with inflation, clothes prices have fallen. In fact, they’ve fallen to the point we’re at now where you get sites like everything5pounds.com. Here 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. Particularly 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.

Driving Down The Value of Clothing

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. Is ethical clothing expensive then? I’m inclined to say no.

cost of ethical clothing

The Impact on Household Spending

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. However, census data from the US shows that in the 1950s 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. This is despite Americans buying more clothes than ever before.  Indeed, the same article reports that in 1930, the average American woman owned nine outfits. 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, meaning they buy more and more clothes. When clothing is viewed as disposable, consumers see ethical clothing as being prohibitively expensive.

What’s the Answer to Ethical Clothing Seeming Expensive?

So what’s the answer to ethical clothing seeming prohibitively expensive?

The answer is, I think, in several parts:

Changing Our Relationship With Clothing

I think part of the answer lies in our relationship with clothing.  Buying far fewer items of clothing is key. Learning to love the items of clothing we do have, and looking after them by washing them well, and repairing them when they need it is a huge part of the ethical clothing equation than almost anyone, regardless of the size of their disposable income, can be a part of.

Another is not buying into trends. Instead, buy ethical clothing that you want to wear time and again.  I’ve written in length about these aspects of consumerism – but in a nutshell, when you factor in the cost per wear of an item that won’t date in a few months’ time, you do start to change your views on ethical clothing being better value rather than expensive.

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

Influencers Acting More Responsibly

People with influence also have to act more responsibly.  Youtube haul videos with vloggers with huge followings boasting to impressionable young viewers about how many cheap items of clothing they’ve bought only perpetuates the cheap disposable clothing myth. Meanwhile, celebrities that are used to greenwash unsustainable brands are part of this problem too.

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 good value when it comes to ethical clothing.

Supporting Ethical Fashion Isn’t Just About What We Buy

It’s also really important to remember that supporting ethical fashion doesn’t just have to mean buying ethical fashion. There are lots of ways to support ethical fashion without spending money – from supporting garment workers’ rights to calling out greenwashing from big brands.

This article originally appeared on Huffington Post.