Have you ever bought second-hand clothes? This market is growing increasingly globally – a report estimates that the U.S. secondhand market will more than double by 2026, reaching $82 billion. 62% of Gen Z and millennial consumers said they look for items secondhand before buying new. And almost half of Gen Z and millennial consumers (46%) consider the potential resale value of an item before purchasing it. In addition to the economic factor, buying second-hand is more sustainable because it bypasses the production stage. Sourcing materials and the production of clothes are the most polluting parts of a fashion supply chain – this industry is responsible for 8-10% of all carbon emissions I’ve been a fan of shopping second-hand for a long time and, in today’s post, I’m going to suggest my favorite websites to buy second-hand clothes here in the US.
My history with second-hand clothes
One of the coolest memories from my childhood involves used clothes. I have several cousins older than me and, at least once a year, our aunts would send my mother a huge bag full of clothes that no longer fit the cousins – and I would share the clothes with my sister. It was a delight to open that bag and explore all those beautiful clothes – it was always a good surprise to discover the contents of those bags. In addition, I also grew up seeing my mother practice the same thing – she always tried to regift on what no longer fitted us. When my brother was born, I was 11 years old and I remember her getting second-hand baby stuff from other mothers and, later, regifting the items that no longer fit him. So, wearing used clothes was never a taboo for us because we grew up used to it.
When I lived in Brazil, I didn’t have access to many thrift stores and second-hand shops – my town was very small, and, until this day, I don’t think there are any stores of this kind there. It was only when I moved abroad that I started to have more contact with this world. In 2015, I did a workshop at the FIT on vintage fashion, and the experience was in locus, as the professor took us to several thrift stores and second-hand stores in the city, and I found it fascinating. It was also around this time that I started selling my clothes through a consignment website in Brazil. It was convenient because after moving to New York, my style changed a lot, and a lot of things started not to make sense in my closet. To this day, I still pull pieces out of the closet and evaluate what has sales potential and what can be donated.
After that, I discovered second-hand websites in the US and I not only started to put some things up for sale on these sites but also to buy from them. I’m much more adept at online shopping than browsing in stores. Of course, thrift shopping has many advantages – but I think I’ve mastered the art of online thrift shopping more.
Buying secondhand has become popular because of a lot of benefits: you can find unique pieces, it’s more affordable and it’s sustainable. But there’s space for growth. If you have a stigma, remember:
- Well, first of all: there is a wonderful invention called the washing machine. I’m not going to be a hypocrite here – sometimes I think it’s disgusting, but my motto is: after getting the item, I wash it. Simple. I don’t know if the person has washed the item that I bought, so, when in doubt, I don’t mind washing it. So, there’s no need to be disgusted by something you can wash.
- Another stigma is around the “energy.” Seriously, I can’t… I don’t think about where the clothes came from and who wore them – all I think about is: I have a new piece in my closet, I saved a lot buying it secondhand, and now it’s mine. Don’t stress yourself about it.
- Also, there is the embarrassment of shopping second-hand. Well… why do you care about other’s people opinions? Plus, when you shop online nobody’s gonna know.
Now, let’s check my favorite online stores to buy second-hand clothes!
Poshmark is one of the most popular apps/websites for buying second-hand clothes. And you will find not only clothes, but also shoes and accessories from the most diverse brands – here, the focus is not on the luxury market, okay? It features women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing. There are also products for pets and even cosmetics and electronics!
- You can filter by categories, size, color, gender, brands, and even condition of the item – you can find brand new clothes with tags, look for NWT (new with tags);
- You can make an offer to the seller
- Your likes are saved in the “My likes” area, and it’s like your favorites folder, so you can keep track of the price of something you’re eyeing, for example;
- It doesn’t allow returns – you can only return if the item does not match the seller’s description;
- There is a comments area to ask questions to the seller – you can, for example, ask for measurements, ask questions about the style, etc. And you can see the previous questions.
- For sellers: all sales under $15, Poshmark receives a fixed commission of $2.95. For sales of $15 or more, you keep 80% of your sale, and Poshmark’s commission is 20%.
- Poshmark has both an app and a website version. Sign up with code LAURAPERUCHI and save $10 on your first order.
Mercari is similar to Poshmark – and features an app and a website. Like Poshmark, the focus is not on the luxury market. You will find clothes, shoes, and accessories from the most diverse brands – women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing, cosmetics, and electronics.
- Mercari features an area called Shop Local – these items are for sale in your region, and you can receive them at home, just like food delivery. It’s a great option to find second-hand household items and electronics – something very common in the US, and that helps you save a lot of money!
- There are also several filters – category, size, color, gender, brands, condition of the item, and also by items on sale.
- You can message the seller with questions – there is no space for comments.
- Mercari allows you to make an offer/ask for a discount
- One of the coolest features is that you can save a search. Let’s say you’re looking for model X by brand Y. When you save that search, Mercari notifies you of new items on sale in that criteria.
- For sellers: Your earnings equal the listing price minus the sales tax (starts at 10%), payment processing fee, and shipping (if you choose to offer free shipping).
- You can use the code TFTGDY when signing up to get up to $30 off on your first order.
Compared to Poshmark and Mercari, Depop has more of a cool vibe. It started as an app – its interface is reminiscent of the Instagram feed. Nowadays, they also have a website. One of the advantages of Depop, for me, is the minimalist design of the website: the information is very clear.
- Depop gives you the option to search for items in the US as well as in other parts of the world.
- Depop positions itself as a younger platform – so you probably gonna find cool and stylish items.
- Depop is focused on clothing, footwear, and accessories.
- You can filter by category, size, color, gender, brand and even condition of the item,
- Depop also has the functionality to save a search and receive alerts.
- You can make an offer and also message the seller to ask questions.
- For those who sell: Depop charges a fee of 10% on top of the item’s value.
The Real Real
While Poshmark, Mercari, and Depop function as marketplaces, that is, an aggregator of items sold by people like you and me, on The Real Real, things work in a different way. It is one of the largest second-hand websites in the US and focuses on the luxury market. You won’t find clothes from Zara or Old Navy – the curation includes luxury brands and famous designers. You can check the complete list of brands available by clicking here.
- The Real Real is in possession of all items listed on the website. People ship their items to them, and they take care of the rest;
- In addition to brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Gucci, you will find other brands/designers that are not luxury but not the cheapest either, like Reformation, Acne Studios, A.L.C., Coach, SAM., Mackage and so on go.
- It is not possible to make offers – but there are always sales and promotions.
- There is a return policy – always check the item description under “Shipping & return” to see if it is possible to return the item you wanna buy.
- The Real Real has the most rigorous authentication process on the market – a team of experts evaluate items to verify that they are genuine (very important when we are talking about luxury items).
- The process of selling with them is very convenient: you can send them to them for free or drop them off at one of their stores (by the way, they have several stores in NYC!).
- They also take care of shipping. Obviously, this all comes at a price – their commission is higher and you can check it out here.
ReBag started out as a website specializing in a niche – second-hand luxury bags. The selection includes more than 40 brands. They are still famous for selling handbags – but you can also find shoes, watches, and even clothes from luxury brands.
- ReBag is in possession of all items listed on the website.
- There is a return policy – you can check the details by clicking here.
- It’s not possible to make offers – but sometimes there are promos and discount codes.
- The selection of brands is smaller and more focused on the luxury market.
- All items undergo a review process by an in-house team of experts. ReBag has been buying and selling handbags since 2014 and has acquired hundreds of thousands of items, making it one of the top websites in the world. They certify all items and offer 7-day returns for any reason.
- To find out how to sell with ReBag, click here.
- You get 10% OFF on your first purchase when you use my link.
My second-hand purchases and storytime
Above, you can see some of the used clothes I’ve bought online. Honestly, these clothes have a special meaning because I really wanted to buy them so badly – some were even sold out, hence the reason why I decided to dig and I got great deals. But the best deal was my SAM coat. Storytime!
At the end of last year, a friend told me about this brand. And it was perfectly timed because I was already thinking about investing in a GOOD winter coat (and unfortunately, that means spending a few $100 bills). I fell in love with the brand’s coats – winter coats are usually not the prettiest (or they all look the same). So, the design got me. I kept an eye on the Noho style and even stopped by Bloomingdale’s to try it. I loved it, but I decided not to buy it that day: it was $625. Now that I knew my size, I decided to do an online round to see if I could find anyone selling a used one in good condition. I found several. Some for $400, some for $500. And that would save me some bucks, of course, until I found a girl selling the coat I wanted, in my size, for $68 on Poshmark.
And what was the catch? There were some tears/holes in one sleeve (she described this in the ad). So I researched how to fix holes in down coats and decided to try my luck – I offered her $61, and she accepted. When the coat arrived, I couldn’t believe it: it was exactly as described, and, honestly, the cuts didn’t look so bad. I bought a special glue and patches and covered these cuts. Once the process was complete, I sent the coat to the dry cleaner – I couldn’t wash it on my washer machine. Then there was the best part: man… it came back like new! So shiny! Perfect!
In total: I spent $68 for the coat and shipping, $24 for the glue and stickers, and $22 for the dry cleaner – a total $114. A new one would cost nearly $700 with taxes.
@itslauraperuchi One of my best deals ever ❤️ #samnewyork #secondhandfashion #prelovedclothes #poshmark #foundonposhmark #winterfashion #newyorkcityfashion ♬ Hip Hop with impressive piano sound(793766) – Dusty Sky
Tips on buying second-hand online
- Defining what you’re looking for – I’m the type of person who buys second-hand with specific goals: I know exactly what item I’m looking for. Sometimes, of course, I browse through the selection of some brands that I like, but most of the time, I am very accurate. Whatever your style, use filters to narrow down your search. There are many options on these sites, and the chance of you getting overwhelmed is high…
- Know your size – I have favorite brands and know my size for each. I say this because sometimes our size varies from brand to brand. Also, use the messaging and comment tools to ask the seller for measurements.
- Pay attention to the descriptions to avoid asking a question that might already be answered there. Take a good look at the photos – and don’t be discouraged by ugly photos when you know what you’re looking for. Unfortunately, not everyone cares when it comes to taking pictures…
- Be patient – use the alert tools if you’re not in a hurry. It took me a month to find the SAM’s coat – and I always searched periodically.
- Make offers! Many sellers already announce the price with a margin to give a discount. It doesn’t hurt to ask for less, lol.
- And remember: you can wash it.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and I hope my testimonial has encouraged you to also opt for second-hand clothes – even if only once in a while!
Content creator and journalist in New York City. Here, I share lifestyle, beauty, NYC tips, thoughts, and the struggles about living in the most amazing city in the world! I’m not gonna pretend to be another person: I’m a Brazilian immigrant and I think this is my soul, it is part of who I am. I hope you enjoy my content! Follow me on Instagram!