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Beginner's guide to selling clothes second hand

Is it time for your former favorites to find a new owner? Read our best tips for a smoother and more profitable deal, both for you as a seller and for your buyer.

Choosing where to sell

Today there are plenty of services where you can sell your clothes second hand. Niche and local second hand stores, like Arkivet in Stockholm and Gothenburg, are popular for selling clothes on commission*. The online market is dominated by services like Facebook Marketplace or Vestiaire Collective, or local Swedish apps like Tradera, Tise or Sellpy. Local Facebook groups like Labels We Love or Circle of Clothes in Sweden are also popular for peer-to-peer selling.

If you sell through Vestiaire Collective or a local niche second hand store, their commission rate tends to be high (at least 40%) – in return, all you need to do is hand in your clothes. Advertising at online apps is often cheaper, and you’re offered some help with the shipping – but you’ll have to do most of the work yourself.

Selling peer-to-peer on Facebook groups is free, and since most well-respected and popular groups have strict rules, you’ll reach the right audience. But be prepared to do all the work yourself.

5 tips when selling second hand

1. Spruce up: Wash, steam and remove pills

Refresh your garment before reselling it. Wash, remove pills, cut off loose threads, and steam.

2. Spark interest with the right description

Always write the specific brand and model name in your ad. Specify what material it’s made of, especially if it’s something more exclusive like wool or silk. Do include tips like “goes nicely with…” or “match together with…” to paint a livelier image for potential buyers.

Mention both size and measurements. Measurements are especially appreciated when selling pants or jeans since a size rarely says anything.

Measurements to include:
  • Pants and jeans: waist and inside leg length (measure across the waist and at the inside of the leg).
  • Dresses: length and sleeve length (from top to bottom and from the armpit to the cuff).
  • Skirts: waist and length.
  • Jackets and coats: length from collar to hem, and sleeve length.
  • Shoes: inside length and if they’re considered narrow, normal or wide (you can often find this information at the manufacturer’s websites).

3. Describe the condition in detail

Everybody understands the clothes are used. Do mention if there are stains and where they’re located (or better, take a photo). Mention loose hems or threads. Also, describe what's good about the garment – you don’t want to scare people off.

Useful phrases to describe a garment's condition:
  • NWT: New With Tags – unused with label still attached can be described like this.
  • New: there is no evidence the garment has been worn at all.
  • Good, used condition: nice colors, no loose threads or stains, but it has been used and most likely washed.
  • Used, but still has a lot to offer: this is a positive way of describing a garment with defects or with evident traces of being worn.

Add info on how you’ve taken care of the garment:
  • Inform if you’ve been using an unscented detergent and fabric softener or not (especially appreciated by people with sensitive noses or allergies).
  • If you’re a pet owner (allergies).
  • If it has been recently dry-cleaned.
  • If you’re a smoker or not.

4. Taking selling photos

You will need different kinds of photos for your ad. Use your mobile camera and shoot with the flash turned off and preferably in daylight. Place your garment in front of a neutral background. Next to a window is a good start but be mindful where you place the garment – you don’t want hard shadows or backlight.

Optimal you need these different pictures:
  • One full image of the garment.
  • One product image that will display how it looks on (just google), or include a photo of you wearing it as an alternative.
  • Pictures that show any defects.
  • A picture of the care label (as a potential buyer, you may want to know how to take care of the garment).

5. Smooth shipping

Reuse old packages (like brown paper bags, stapled together, or old shoe boxes) or specific mailing bags easily found online. Please use a courier that offers traceable shipping, safer for you and the buyer.

Sound like too much work? Once you’ve made a habit of it, it’s not that complicated. But if the workload sounds stressful, it may be wiser to leave it to the professionals.

*Selling on commission means you’re paid once the store has sold your garment. This is a standard setup for most secondhand stores. On the plus side, the turnover rate is pretty high, and garments are often sold within a few days (or not at all).

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