Whether it’s your favourite hobby, your secret talent, or your version of a cardio routine, chances are you’ve spent your fair share of time and money, shopping. While we love a good wardrobe refresh, finding new and on trend pieces each season can feel a tad repetitive and get quite expensive — especially if you’re drawn towards the more high street boutiques. Similarly, choosing to purchase trendy or up to date pieces from these brands tend to stay in your closet far longer than they remain in your wardrobe rotation.
There is, however, a solution that allows you to keep all the fun and excitement that comes along with buying new clothes without any of the guilt! Allow us to present the magic that is secondhand shopping, which is quickly becoming a trend in its own right. Choosing to purchase your high end items secondhand not only saves you substantial amounts of money; it benefits the environment in incredible ways and helps you build a wardrobe with items you’ll actually wear.
As any thrift store regular could tell you, changing your shopping habits ensures that you’re building long-lasting wardrobe. By selecting preloved items, you’re selecting items with longer lifetimes and ones that truly speak to you, not just to the trends of the moment. Consignment shops offer something that fast fashion ones don’t — originality and individuality. No two items will ever be the same, no matter how many shops or sites you frequent. Shopping secondhand presents the opportunity for customers to create a unique personal style that isn’t easily replicated or stuck in the arena of a specific trend period.
Designer consignment is also a great option for those shoppers looking to stay on trend but not break the bank. Choosing to buy a high-end statement piece secondhand not only saves money upon purchase, but typically guarantees an easy resale. Swapping out your secondhand pieces at a shop or through one of these sites is a great way to keep your wardrobe fresh while keeping your savings account stable. It’s also one of the more economic ways to build up a collection of designer pieces.
Like almost everything else in the digital age, secondhand shopping has become more accessible than ever. Physical consignment shops are popping up left and right, along with websites and apps with amazing inventory at incredible prices. Some of our favourite apps include Poshmark, Depop, and Carousell.
Making the effort to live more sustainably is one that, while incredibly important, tends to be a more intimidating undertaking. Many people don’t know where to start, or are under the impression that they have to change major aspects of their lives to make any sort of difference. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Becoming more sustainable can be as simple as changing the stores you shop at. The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the entire world. Fast fashion, specifically, depletes non-renewable resources, uses massive amounts of water, and emits greenhouse gasses at an alarming rate.
Fast fashion, for those unfamiliar with the term, is the rapid production of clothing and accessories that capitalizes on trends and utilizes low-quality materials. Fast fashion products are relatively inexpensive but have a limited shelf-life. Many fast fashion brands are known to produce a collection of new items a week, sometimes consisting of hundreds of individual items. These practices have not only resulted in unprecedented amounts of environmental waste, as well as an unprecedented wave of overconsumption by their customers. Zara, H&M, Primark, and Topshop are all fast fashion brands.
Choosing to shop secondhand, however, helps counteract these negative effects. Shopping consignment helps reduce the participation in and the demand for fast fashion. By purchasing secondhand items, you’re making sure that the resources used to make those items aren’t going to waste!
The hallmark of luxury is authenticity. A legitimate concern of anyone purchasing their designer pieces second hand comes from the question, “Is this real?” Considering that some of the more classic designer items on consignment still sport a triple zero price tag, it’s important to be sure that you’re taking home a Louis Vuitton and not a Luis Vitton. Thankfully, almost all reputable high end consignment shops and sites have an “Authenticity Guarantee”. New York’s “What Goes Around Comes Around” has three-part authentication process conducted by “meticulously trained expert authenticators” that each item undergoes before it becomes available for purchase. On the other hand, a site like Poshmark has more members and more inventory, making authenticating every item close to impossible. The app, however, does have an authenticity guarantee called “Posh Authenticate” that is available for users who spend $700 or more. The items are similarly evaluated by a trained team, but they promise a full refund to anyone who cannot independently verify the authenticity of their qualifying items.
Poshmark has another policy called “Posh Protect” that helps assuage many of the other worries secondhand shoppers may have. They cover purchased items with undisclosed damages, any case in which an item doesn’t arrive or in which the wrong item arrives, and instances where the item doesn’t match its listed description.
Thinking about luxury handbags specifically, choosing to buy your first, or maybe your next, designer bag secondhand is one of the smartest investments one can make — in both your wardrobe and your bank account. When you’ve decided to take the plunge and purchase a high quality purse, you’re going to want to make sure you tick the following three boxes to get the most out of your new addition:
Certain styles of bags and select accessories from brands like Louis Vuitton and Hermes appreciate in value each year, meaning their price and value go way up the more time passes. In other words — walk, don’t run. Take Chanel for example (go big or go home, right?), and their classic double flap bag. In 2010, the bag retailed for around $1600. Eleven years later you can purchase that very same bag… for $5800. If that’s well in your budget, more power to you! Heck, buy two. And maybe send one over to your friends here at Practical & Fine! But if you’re part of the group who have other pesky expenses to fund first, like food and electricity, don’t count yourself out from the race just yet. Luxury fashion shops and sites like Rebag, Poshmark, and The RealReal have pages on top of pages of preloved designer bags in nearly pristine condition for fractions of their original prices.
Becoming a seller yourself is almost too easy. Nearly every city boasts a collection of curated consignment shops that help you sell your designer pieces and give you the option of splitting the profits or trading your inventory for theirs. Many consignment websites, though, provide the option of mailing in your items to be appraised and accepted. This is a great option for anyone who wants to reach a broader audience of consumers, doesn’t want to go out of their way to find a consignment shop near them, or anyone who happens to find themselves living in a global pandemic! The RealReal, for example, has simplified the process to just a few clicks.
Some of your favourite celebrities and their stylists are big fans of consignment shopping as well. Some of the biggest advocates for secondhand shopping include Anne Hathaway, Helen Mirren, Winona Ryder, and Sarah Jessica Parker. That’s right, Carrie Bradshaw herself is a thrifting pro. SJP spoke to Vanity Fair about only shopping secondhand for her children after learning about the harmful effects of fast fashion. On that same note, SJP’s wardrobe on Divorce consisted almost entirely of vintage finds from New York City!
One of the most exciting things about changing your shopping habits is how easy it is to do so! Next time you’re window shopping at Selfridges or about to hit “add to cart” on Zara’s website, try taking a look scan of Poshmark or Rebag instead. You’ll be surprised at how much you find, and how many items truly speak to you in ways that trends oftentimes are unable to. So, whether it’s to curate a wardrobe of clothes you’ll actually want to wear, reduce your environmental impact, build a unique personal style, or to free up some closet space, choosing to shop secondhand is a choice you won’t regret.