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The advent of online shopping has proven to be a blessing: no longer do you have to venture out to brick and mortar stores and endure the physically (and mentally) taxing process of trying on clothes beneath the universally unbecoming dressing room lights. Now you can have your whole wardrobe delivered to your door with the added luxury of trying on your purchases in the lighting of your choice.
But if your sartorial inclinations lean more towards vintage and secondhand clothing, you might feel as though you’ve been excluded from the experience of buying clothes online. Well, I’m here to inform you that the world of online thrifting and vintage shopping very much exists and is very much thriving.
You’re probably familiar with Etsy, the virtual marketplace that allows anyone and everyone to operate their own online shop. Contrary to popular belief, the site offers more than just artisanal soap and scarves knit by quirky girls with bangs; it also happens to be home to a number of vintage retailers. And if you’re particular about vintage clothing actually being vintage, Etsy has policies in place requiring vintage items to be at least 20 years old, so there’s no worry of an Urban Outfitters band tee masquerading as authentic merch.
In a similar vein to Etsy is Depop, a more recent online selling platform that has amassed dedicated support among teens and pre-teens. The app (it only exists as such) operates in a similar manner to Etsy: sellers simply list their goods and the public is free to purchase. Depop sellers take the task just as seriously as if they were running a physical store, some even going out of their way to curate items specifically for their followers. Think of these shops as online garage sales, where you’re allowed a peek into the interior lives of strangers and the chance to score something cool.
So, now that we’ve established it’s possible to shop vintage and secondhand clothing online, the question remains, how does one go about it? Shopping for vintage or thrifting in person can be daunting enough, requiring dedication and patience. The same can be said for browsing platforms like Etsy and Depop, but luckily we’ve gathered some tips for how to be the savviest shopper of the online vintage and secondhand clothing world.
Filters Are Your Friend
There’s no feeling more gutting than when you find an article of clothing only to discover it’s not your size. The chances of this happening are increased when thrifting and shopping for vintage, so it’s understandable if you think places like Etsy and Depop are only going to raise your hopes and break your heart. However, online retailers specializing in secondhand and vintage products are cognizant of the vast amount of items being sold on their sites and have implemented filters as a solution. Now you can tailor your searches so you’re only shown results matching your desired shoe or clothing size. Further filters include the type of clothing (i.e. sweater or jacket), so you won’t be overwhelmed by products irrelevant to your search. Depop even allows users to filter by brand, meaning you’ll only see what appeals to you and maybe even get the chance to snag something you missed the first time around.
Know What You’re Looking For
As much fun as it can be aimlessly browsing pages upon pages of clothes and shoes and bags, it’s an online shopping tactic that tends to yield little reward. When it comes to resale sites, you’re going to want to have some idea of what you’re looking for. If you’ve been in the market for a vintage Patagonia fleece, then search ‘vintage Patagonia fleece’ (it’s even better if you know the era or year you want it from). But if you’re unsure about what it is exactly you’re looking for, the most important thing to remember is including ‘vintage’ in your search.
It pains me a little to share this piece of advice, but the ‘likes’ and ‘saved’ sections of fellow Depop and Etsy users proves to be a great resource for finding items without all the extensive searching. If you find yourself aesthetically drawn to a particular user’s shop or ‘closet,’ but all their items are sold out or beyond your price range, just delve into their likes and see what they’ve found that you couldn’t. In turn, this can lead you to even more shops and users, and thus even more ‘likes’ to shop from. I know, it sounds a little slimy and sneaky, but hey, who said there were any rules when it comes to vintage shopping?
Hit That Follow
Since many shops on these platforms are legitimate businesses (many vintage ‘stores’ on Etsy actually have physical shops and locations but use the site as a way to offer their items to those outside their city/state/country), it isn’t uncommon for them to have an active social media presence, Instagram being the most popular among them. On the homepage of an Etsy shop, you can scroll down to near the bottom of the page where there is an ‘About’ section. Often you’ll notice the Instagram icon in the same section, and if you click on it you will be directed to the shop’s Instagram page. Here, shops and users will frequently post upcoming items that have yet to be officially added to their shop, along with when the items are expected to be released. Following their Instagrams will give you the added advantage of anticipating and preparing for these ‘drops.’
Practice, Practice, Practice
Shopping through Etsy and Depop can take some adjusting to, and it can be easy to get discouraged when your shopping bag comes up empty. But the more time you spend browsing these platforms, playing around with the search filters, and curating your own likes and feed, you’ll hit a groove. You may even start to develop your own techniques and tricks. Just keep in mind that like any other form of shopping, whether it be online or in person, vintage or not, every venture isn’t going to be successful. Just think how rewarding it will be when you do find something on Etsy and Depop and you can tell everyone, “It’s vintage.”
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