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On average, consumers are buying 60% more clothing than we were just 15 years ago, as items become cheaper and we try to stay on trend. In the past it was not uncommon to only own a few select pieces, but now the average American family spends more than $1700 on clothes annually. That consumerism comes at a cost, as fashion accounts for about 10% of the greenhouse gas emissions from human activity.
How to Shop Sustainably
Those who are fashion conscious, but also want to do their part for the environment, can find themselves at an impasse as they want to change out their wardrobe without making a negative impact on the environment.
As with covid-19 many traditional thrift shop outlets were closed temporarily, more and more consumers started to look for whether thrift stores have online shopping available, and where to buy cheap thrifted pieces online. While social marketplaces like Poshmark and Depop are gaining popularity, these require you to work directly with a person, rather than online stores.
Online thrift stores are a great solution to this dilemma. Whether you are purchasing online to enhance your closet, or just looking for an alternative to trashing your perfectly good stuff, an online thrift store provides an outlet that is both economical and environmentally friendly.
Which Online Thrift Shops are the Best?
There are quite a few online thrift stores to choose from, so how do you know what are the best online thrift stores? When purchasing from a second hand store online, you should be on the look out for a few key characteristics. Look for where the pieces are from, and how they are handled. Also check to see what the return policy is.
We have compiled a list of the best online stores, with their pros and cons, to make your shopping experience even easier.
ThredUp promises to be good for your closet, your wallet, and the planet. They were founded on the premise of sustainability. Their research says that 1 in 2 people have thrown unworn items straight into the trash, which is in turn incinerated. 95% of those could have been reused or recycled. The online thrift store has processed over 100 million unique pieces, displacing 1 billion pounds of CO2.
They carry women’s and kid’s apparel and accessories, including handbags and shoes, and have one of the widest selections for online thrifting. You can find everything from maternity and plus size, to designer fashions with curated pieces from high-end brands.
If you are looking into selling from your own closet, they make it easy with a Clean Out Kit, which you fill with your own garments and ship to them to sell. They work on a 100% consignment model, and you can estimate the amount you’ll be paid in advance.
- The platform that ThredUp uses is extremely easy to use, allowing you to filter by price, style, brand, or discount.
- ThredUp offers free shipping on orders over $79.
- There is a 50% off introductory offer for new purchasers.
- If you purchase something that you don’t love, there is a generous 14 day return policy on all apparel and accessories.
- If you have received an order that is not correct, ThredUp promises to make it right.
- Unacceptable garments that they receive go to a textile recycle, which is still better than ending up in a landfill.
- There is a $1.99 restocking fee for returns, which helps pay for shipping and handling. While this sounds like a reasonable amount, it can be half of the price of the item you paid for. Your original shipping charge is also not refunded if you make a return.
- When selling your pieces, you may not end up with as much cash as you think. Some items may be rejected for quality, and depending on the price point, you may only receive 5-15% of the sale value.
- They do not sell men’s clothing.
HOT MILK vintage sells branded active wear and street fashion from the 80’s and 90’s, along with unique vintage clothing. They select items based on the brand, carefully clean and disinfect them, and offer them at a discounted rate. Their style is distinctly urban, featuring wind breakers and track suits. HOT MILK has an Etsy platform as well as a platform built right into their website.
- You will find some one of a kind gems at this online thrift store. Their clothing selection is truly vintage.
- Each piece is carefully selected, so you will only receive very good quality and condition clothing.
- Free worldwide delivery on orders over 80 euro. If you live within Europe, you can expect your items in the post the next day.
- 14 day return policy.
- They market their clothing as unisex however items like jeans or shorts are generally only shown on male models. A woman may have trouble finding her fit, especially in pants.
- Because they are selective about the items they sell, they are less about sustainability and more about fashion. They do not have partners that recycle unwanted clothing.
- Their online platform only allows you to filter by price and item type, not fit.
- Selling clothing to them is a bit low tech, requiring you to send them an email with attachments for each piece.
Worn Wear is a division of Patagonia that allows customers to partner with the brand and extend the life of the items they are buying. According to statistics from WRAP, keeping clothing just 9 months longer reduces the carbon footprint of a garment by 20-30%. Patagonia Worn Wear builds on this idea to provide sustainable branded clothing at affordable prices.
- You can bring your clothing in to Patagonia brick and mortar stores for trade in, or send them in by post.
- The company provides laundering and repair guides to help you keep your secondhand items around longer.
- The website gives you a good estimation of what your gear is worth prior to sending it in.
- Items that come in beyond repair are broken down and used to make other pieces. This Recrafted secondhand clothing keeps items out of landfills, and gives them a second life.
- Some items are not accepted for hygienic reasons, such as swimwear, underwear, and shoes. They will also not accept t-shirts or accessories.
- If an item is deemed ineligible and you have mailed it in, you won’t get it back.
- The buy back program is currently only available in the United States.
The ASOS marketplace is a platform for over 900 small businesses to sell vintage pieces and secondhand clothing. Because of the variety of shopping available, you can purchase everything from luxury goods to vintage dresses. Their community of shops also includes independent brands.
- Because of the amount of shops available, the range of products available on ASOS Marketplace is incredible. Whether you are looking for a consignment shop or just some great deals on secondhand clothes, Marketplace has you covered.
- You can find everything from thrifted accessories and shoes to affordable luxury apparel.
- The ability to filter by store or garment type makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.
- Each boutique runs itself independently. You may find that quality varies between different online thrift stores.
- If you are making a return, you must contact the seller first. Different sellers may be easier to work with than others. While Marketplace will step in on disputes after all of your other options are exhausted, you may find that you spend a lot of time first trying to get a refund from a less than ethical seller.
- While there is a huge selection on ASOS Marketplace, you may find that some sellers are just pawning off their old things, rather than providing a true thrift experience.
The Real Real was founded in 2011 by Julie Wainwright, and was originally based out of her home. Today it is a sustainable option to sell luxury vintage pieces and shop them at an affordable price. Not only is the CEO a woman, over half of their workforce, including the management and executives, are female.
- The Real Real was the first resale company to join the United Nations Climate Change Fashion Industry Charter. The company is committed to sustainable shopping, and reducing the fashion industry’s carbon footprint.
- As far as online thrift stores go, this is where to go for luxury goods. If you are looking for fashion brands only, you will not have to spend any time weeding out any Urban Outfitters or GAP sweaters.
- Thrifting can be a more affordable entry point for these pieces, rather than buying them straight from a shop.
- If vintage thrifting is your thing, you can find plenty of fashion vintage clothing.
- If you don’t love what you’ve purchased, you can return your online purchase within 14 days.
- The company’s authentication process has been called into question in the past. Purchasing luxury, high end goods used online can be hit or miss, so keep in mind while you’re shopping that you are running the risk of ending up with a fake.
- While The Real Real is technically thrifting, the prices remain exceptionally high. You may be able to find similar apparel selling at half the price on another online thrift platform.
- Though some pieces are marketed as vintage, they don’t often disclose the age of the piece.
Vestiaire Collective is very similar to other online thrift stores like The Real Real. They have hard to find and coveted pieces, available secondhand at a fraction of the original price.
- Vestiaire is fighting fashion waste by taking pieces that would otherwise not be worn, and selling them through their online thrift stores.
- They offer an installment payment plan.
- You can make offers on a piece that you think is priced too high, which the seller can choose to accept or reject.
- If you purchase from either a professional seller or individual seller, you can make a return free of charge within 72 hours.
- Vestiaire has also had authentication issues with their secondhand products.
- There are complaints regarding their customer service. Their Better Business Bureau rating is an F, much of which is related to their handling of complaints.
- Though the pieces are technically thrifted, and you can find some vintage garments, the reality is that these pieces would most likely either be sold or donated locally. Shipping may actually increase the piece’s carbon footprint.
This Japanese based store offers plenty of vintage style at secondhand pricing. 2nd Street USA have street wear, casual, and designer pieces
- All clothing that arrives in their stores is reused. Anything that cannot be sold does not end up in a landfill. That means that they may be used to clean up oil spills in factories, or even resold to third world countries to create job opportunities.
- 2nd Street USA stocks thousands of pieces.
- Their platform is easy to navigate, and allows you to filter for exactly what you’re looking for, right down to the color.
- There is a 14 day return policy.
- Post fees for returned items are non-refundable.
What is the Best Online Thrift Store?
After a careful review of all the best online thrift stores, ThredUp comes out on top. While they don’t offer menswear, and selling on the platform can be hit or miss, they offer the widest selection of goods at incredible deals. If you are looking for a consignment store that has it all, ThreadUp is one of the best online thrift stores available.
As a runner up, if you are interested in only luxury style, The Real Real is a great option.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to shop thrift stores online?
To successfully shop online, you need to research the stores in advance. Understand where the inventory is coming from, how they’ll get to you, and what the return policy is.
Do thrift stores wash clothes?
Whether a store washes their stock before they get to you depends on the store. Generally though, the answer is no. Even if it is washed, you should wash everything that you purchase second-hand once it arrives.
How do thrift stores get their clothes?
Thrift store inventory comes from donations, or consignment. Where the inventory come from before that varies. You can find everything from off brands to designer clothing at a thrift store.
Are vintage clothes second hand?
Vintage clothing generally refers to clothing that is made between 1920 and 1960. Unless you’re lucky enough to come across clothing from that time period that has never been worn, vintage clothes will usually come to you second hand.
What else can I do to dress the eco-friendly way?
You can do many things, one of them is to buy clothing made from organic materials, such as organic cotton. If you insist on buying new clothes, another option is to look for sustainable clothing brands that are certified eco-friendly manufacturers. You can also make sure that you don’t throw away the pieces that you don’t need any more. You can bring them to charity shops or sell them.
Why buy second hand clothes?
Buying clothing second hand is a great way to reduce waste, while allowing you the opportunity to purchase quality brand name clothing at a fraction of the price. That may allow you to save some cash so that you can purchase a few select pieces for your wardrobe brand new.