Do you recall my massive closet purge from late summer? I edited my heart out, sourced modern methods to shed my unwanted pounds of clothing and then... I hit a roadblock. Allow me explain:
First, the background. I want what every girl wants. A closet populated only by clothing that fits and flatters. An LBD to wear to a last minute event, the perfect white blouse, a gallery of jeans that fit flawlessly and enough accessories to make a Harrod's buyer swoon. What I don't want is an excess of "things" I'm not wearing. The bounty of unworn pieces in my closet bothers me and I'm eager to let these underutilized pieces go. I'm also eager to net a bit of cash for my fabulous taste and inventory of well-maintained (often new) goods. Can you blame me? I don't want much, but a little pocket change will ease the sorrow of parting with old "friends" hanging out in the closet.
Well... it seems not all of the things we buy seem so special to others. I've had no problem selling off Tom Ford sunnies that were too small or other small designer accessories. Trina Turk sells well and Milly is a winner. Clearly there's a demand for those brands. But dare ye not toss a few pairs of pants from the mall in a bag and send it off in hopes of someone buying it unless you're willing to say buh-bye for the cost of a cup of coffee. The issue isn't the "send it to us, we'll do the rest" services, it's what I'm sending them. Shipping off your unwanted goods in the hopes of earning cashola may sound easy, but it isn't. There is definitely a learning curve to climb and time to be invested if you're hoping to sell rather than just purge.
Here's how a handful of these services basically break down:
Vaunte: rocking a closet of Valentino & Rag & Bone? This service is for you. List your high end designer goods and watch the cash roll in (presumably) at this VIP recommerce option. I do love the site, but admittedly my "best of" items I'm simply not willing to part with. If your Chanel shelf is overflowing, this might be your match.
Verdict: bring your A-game to this VIP selling platform and dress to impress.
Shop-Hers: I like this one a lot. Great pieces, nice curated closets. It's fun to shop and they offer frequent incentives to buy and sell. I've not actually listed items for sale yet, but doing so is one of my next projects. Expect to sell you Jason Wu scores and Current/Elliott pieces here.
Verdict: great for selling luxury brands and #NYFW popularized designer labels.
The RealReal: While I don't feel the site is well designed, it has a huge following and they definitely make selling easy. Right now if you consign five qualifying items they'll give you a $100 Neiman Marcus gift card. Not a bad deal for your previously loved Vuitton bags and those Prada sunnies just sitting in a drawer. That's in addition to the earnings you'll receive when those goods sell. The RealReal is the real deal.
Verdict: if you're willing to consign, this is a solid choice. Pack up your mint condition Chanels and say bye bye.
Tradesy: is your closet more of the Tibi, Tory Burch, DVF, Milly, Rebecca Taylor variety? This is your sweet spot. I've had real success here and will continue listing items of this variety with them. The site is very well designed and there seems to be a critical mass of buyers & sellers actively using the site. They even offer suggested price point when you are creating your listing, making uploading & accurately pricing those Jimmy Choos a no brainer.
Verdict: I'm amazed at how many friends shop this site. Selling is EASY and shipping sold items is a breeze.
ThredUP: this one surprised me. Their X Collection is far more high end than I anticipated and in fact discovered it's a great place to score new Trina Turk & Valentino pieces for a song. Warning: this is definitely a buyer's market for designer brands and other great finds at incredible prices. Extra bonus: they buy and sell kids clothing & accessories, too. I'll be tossing some pieces into one of their convenient full service bags this month and seeing how it fares as a seller.
Verdict: lovely curated layout. Perhaps more ideal for snagging designer bargains versus netting huge personal profits. Love the option to send in a prepaid bag of goodies to sell. Hassle free.
Threadflip: You can either list items yourself or order their full service bag. I opted for the latter because it makes the purge so much easier. In the end they kept about half of my items and professionally photographed and listed them for me. While I barely recognize my items in the listings (did I really own that?), it was nice to have such an easy way to get them out of my closet. Downside: I paid a hefty $14.95 in shipping to have the "unsellable" items returned (optionally, you can let them donate them). I've had only one of two items sell and those sold for a pittance, but this is a no-hassle way to slowly sell those items off you're not in a big hurry.
Verdict: If you're eager to get rid of it all and aren't terribly focused on profits, their full service option makes it easy. .
LikeTwice: one of the easiest services, you can send in an envelope of clothing and cross your fingers that they'll love your J. Crew sweaters and last season's capri pants. Honestly, they make it so easy and fun to stuff that bag full of your goodies. Once sent, they'll pay you up front for the items they like. Sweet, right? Unfortunately, the offer for my 34 items was so much less than I'd hoped for that I paid them the $4.95 to get it back. Optionally, they will donate your "unwanteds" to charity so you never have to see them again. To their credit, they did want to buy quite a few items, I just had higher hopes for the payout.
Verdict: Very easy to use. Loved their estimate widget. Perhaps not ideal for what I'm trying to achieve (read: profit) but another painless way to ship your accumulated fashion scores off and say goodbye forever.
Poshmark: easily the coolest kid on the recommerce block. I need to invest more time here, as I feel this is likely the most active audience for my goods. It does require attention in much the same way all social networks do, but regular users swear by the effectiveness of this fun social shopping platform. Easy to use. Huge user base. Always a lot of energy & excitement over buying & selling.
Verdict: perfect for those eager to pose in their clothing & sell to friends and followers. Be ready to get involved & treat it like you would any another social network.
The bad news: Chances are those pants for the office you bought at The Limited will be so commonplace online (and so affordable new) that their resale value is tiny. Unless you're selling well known designer goods you will need to lower your expectations. Most of your clothing and accessories hold little to no value in the recommerce marketplace.
The good news: High end products (think: Chanel, Tom Ford, Chloe) and mid-range designer goods (e.g. Tory Burch, Theory, Rory Becca and others) will net the most pocket change (obviously) and also sell the fastest. Those items hold their value and are desirable to buyers looking for bargains or hard-to-find items.
Niche options: If you specifically have high-end bags to sell, you have many options available to you. Fashionphile is a great choice as is Portero and a handful of others. But give Vaunte and The RealReal a shot as your target market is definitely busily shopping there.
Bottom line: purging your closet online isn't snap your fingers easy, but you do have myriad options.
A FEW TIPS FROM MY EXPERIENCE
1. Get perspective. Be honest with yourself about what you want to sell and try to align with the site (or sites) that seems best suited to your items.
2. Be flexible. Don't be afraid to mix it up and use a few different services/sites to sell your goods. I found that I was able to identify different tiers of items I wanted to sell and I used different avenues appropriate to the value and desirability of those goods.
3. Lower your expectations. Ouch. This one hurts, but is essential. You don't want these things any longer, so it's a probably a bit unrealistic to believe you'll be able to run out and buy a new Saint Laurent tote with your earnings from the sale of your closet purge. Mileage will vary, of course, but brace yourself for a bit of a shock when you see the current value of your massive purge pile.
4. Be persistent. If one site rejects your items or offers too low of an offer, consider packaging it back up and sending those things to another service. Or, mix it up a bit and send better things next time hoping for a more favorable response. Maybe you underestimated their target audience's taste level and should have shipped out more premium pieces.
5. Read the fine print. Be sure you know how to get back your unwanted goods if a full-service option rejects some of your goods. You can always take them to a local charity or list them on another site yourself.
6. Be willing to work for it. This is taking far more time than I'd hoped. Some days I am tempted to drive my car up to my local charity and drop the whole load of goods off and call it quits. And yet... I see that there's value to be gained (read: money to be recouped) from selling. Even at a slow pace. If you've got a little time to spend, you can indeed sell many of your closet possessions online. It just won't happen overnight unless you are Dorothy Wang and have legions of fans eager to shop your closet.
7. Evaluate your goals ahead of time. Do you just want it gone or are you aiming for a pot of gold? If your goal is to quickly thin the herd, this can easily be done with the simple filling of a few full-service bags. Boom. Gone. If you're hoping to see a few Benjamins appear in your wallet, set yourself up for the often slow process of pruning the closet and matching those goods up with the right buyer market.
8. Don't be shy. Take a cue from other bloggers and consider posting your items one at a time on twitter & instagram. Have fun with it. Your friends & followers surely love your taste and might just want that adorable skirt for themselves.
9. Be considerate. All of these services (and by extension, their buyers) want clean, like new items. If those jeans have seen better days, donate them or toss them.
10. Keep your eyes on the prize. Remind yourself how great it will be to have only a tightly curated collection of pieces left in your closet when this is done. You will be satisfied in the knowledge that you wisely edited your wardrobe and let go of those under-used pieces.
Let's face it, a serious closet edit is tedious. It takes commitment to shed years of accumulated clothing and accessories. Your best items will go fast, so list them and be prepared to part ways with them. For other items you'll need to have a thick skin. You will be sent an embarrassingly small offer for what used to be your favorite jacket. Yup. Check your ego at the door. On the bright side, there will be occasions when you hear an almost audible "cha-ching!" when those sunglasses you bought at full price that never fit finally find a home with a very happy buyer.
The process of purging and selling isn't fast by any means, but the growing crop of services out there give you plenty of options. Taking time to sell off your edited clothing will definitely make you a more discerning buyer in the future. You'll never want to go through this process again and will now see the value of carefully considering your purchases.
Now... go forth and purge your closet, girls! There's a new world out there waiting for you to empty your closet and let those garments & accessories go to new homes. Just don't buy it all back at once!