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What to Consider When Making a Virtual Vintage Purchase

June 29, 2021

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What to Consider When Making a Virtual Vintage Purchase

If you’re someone with a love for designer goods, you know they can come with a steep price tag. Buying on the preloved market can often save you a pretty penny. You can also find bags that are discontinued and highly sought after. Maybe you missed a bag from Louis Vuitton because you couldn’t afford it at the time, or perhaps you’ve always had your eye on a bag you saw in an episode of Sex and the City. The virtual vintage market is booming, especially after the pandemic. Anyone who is trying to shop more sustainability can tell you that the second-hand market is a gold mind.
Yet, it can also be a mind field.
When you’re shopping in store, you can take a look at the product and make sure there isn’t any flaws. With super fakes (counterfeit items that look virtually identical to their genuine counterparts) becoming more common, it’s harder to tell a real from a fake. That’s not the only thing to consider. Amongst the gems, there is a lot of products that shouldn’t see the light of day. You might spend a full day of scrolling through Depop before you find anything worth purchasing.
For every hidden designer bargain, there’s at least ten products that look like they’ve seen better days. Often you might go looking for one item and get distracted by something else entirely different.
Platforms like Depop are becoming full of independent sellers who go on the hunt for vintage pieces with the purpose of selling them on the pre-loved market. There are sellers that specialise in everything from 90s fashion to vintage Dior bags. With the pandemic making in-person shopping almost impossible, vintage stores and charity shops have turned to apps like eBay and Depop to sell their stock. Other sites like Vestiaire Collective are dedicated to luxury fashion items, with users selling directly to each other.
Instead of walking around the city looking for vintage stores, you can do all your shopping from the comfort of your home. If you want to save your money and help the environment, making virtual vintage purchases might be your new hobby.
If you’re new to the world of virtual vintage shopping, we’ve pulled together all our top tips and ‘need to know’ information to get you started.

Get Started


The first thing you’ll realise is that shopping for vintage items is just like shopping brand new online. You’ll be going through pages and pages of products, the same way you would do on the Zara or H&M website. Just like you have to go-to brands, you’ll soon find go-to sellers who specialise in selling vintage pieces that match your aesthetic. Don’t let the term ‘vintage’ put you off. After all, everything that is vintage becomes new again eventually.
One reality of buying vintage is that sizing charts have changed massively in recent years. The same way you might fluctuate in sizing between different brands, you may not be the same size in a vintage brand as you are in a contemporary brand. It’s a good idea to make a note of your measurements before you start shopping. While you can filter searches by your dress size, most sellers will also list the exact measurements of the garment. If they do, you can always drop them a message to ask for this information. Not every seller will offer a returns policy, so you want to make sure the clothes will fit you before you commit to buying it.

Decide What to Buy


Vintage shopping can be overwhelming. Instead of letting yourself get drawn off course, you want to make a shortlist of a few item you want to find. Just like you go shopping in-store with products in mind, you want to have an idea of what you’re looking for. You may decide to focus on finding vintage Nike pieces or collecting dresses that match a certain aesthetic.
Often, you’ll come across other pieces on your search that grab your attention, but it’s a good idea to go into it with one or two specific items in mind.

Research Before Shopping


Vintage is a far-reaching aesthetic. Most apps offer everything from 1950s fashion to early 2000s nostalgia. If you have a specific era in mind, like the 90s, it’s a good idea to do some research beforehand. Sometimes people are selling things without realising what they actually are. Brands come and go – what might have been a major designer in the 90s may have been forgotten about by now. You may be able to pick up a major bargain by researching brands ahead of time.
Sometimes people also price their vintage items too high, simply because they’re vintage. Do your research on fabrics and materials ahead of time. You don’t want to be paying cashmere prices for polyester.

Be Patient


You might have one week where you’re buying dozens of items, and then go cold turkey. Vintage shopping will ebb and flow. Remember, building a vintage closet is a marathon and not a sprint. You may have your eye on something that you could sell out before you get a chance to add it to your basket. Be patient and keep looking.
You’ll also need to be patient when you’re waiting for your new purchases to arrive. Private sellers are not like ASOS or Zara, so you may need to wait a few extra days for them to ship your purchase.

Use Filters


One benefit that virtual vintage shopping has over its in-person counterpart is that you can use filters. This tool is a major time-saver and will let you narrow down your search by everything from dress size to brand or colour. While sometimes it’s fun to see what’s out there, using filters can make it easier to remove listings for products that won’t interest you.

Your Items May Not Be Purchased


While you’ll occasionally find a vintage product that is new with tags, most of them have been previously worn. Pre-loved = pre-worn. Don’t be surprised if you notice a missing button or a mark on your items. The seller should mention this in the description of the item. You can often fix these flaws yourself with an at-home sewing kit or a little elbow grease. If you’re thinking of switching to vintage shopping, it’s a good idea to learn some basic stitching to make any repairs to your new purchases.

If It Doesn’t Work, Resell It


The vintage market is a great big circular system. The majority of people who purchase pre-loved also sell items themselves. Not only does this declutter your closet, but it can also give you a little extra cash to spend on your next vintage purchase. You might find a bag or jewellery piece that you want to buy, but it’s a little out of your budget. Selling pieces that you no longer wear can help you make up the difference and get your hands on that coveted item.
If a vintage purchase doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world. The size might not work for you or it may look like a disappointment in person compared to the photographs. You can put the item back up on your own profile. Usually you can try to get back what you paid for the item, or you may even be able to make a little extra depending on the item.

Don’t Break The Bank


People often assume that vintage instantly means expensive. If you’re buying vintage designer, it can sometimes be more expensive than in-store pieces, especially if it’s been discontinued. Yet, this isn’t always the case. There are always bargains to be found in the vintage fashion world. If you’re looking for mainstream brands like Nike or Adidas, you can still save a pretty penny by purchasing vintage.
You don’t need to break the bank to buy vintage. If something is a little out of your budget, you can always try to negotiate. Apps like Depop allow you to direct message the seller, who may be willing to sell the item for a cheaper price to get it off their hands. In fact, most people on Depop negotiate a lower price before purchasing.

Pay with PayPal


When you’re shopping preloved – especially if it’s for designer items – you want to pay with PayPal. You’ll get an extra layer of protection, which is essential if it turns out your item is a counterfeit or if it doesn’t arrive. You usually get 60 days to open a case with PayPal. It can also make the checkout process easier and avoids you having to enter your credit card details.
Platforms like PayPal are now offering split payments, which can make it easier to get your hands on more expensive vintage items. If you decide to go down this path, you want to make sure you can make the payments for your items before financing your purchase.


Are you a fan of virtual vintage shopping? What’s your favourite vintage purchase? Let us know in the comments below!

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