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Tips & Tricks for Buying Secondhand Fashion on eBay and Apps

A few weeks ago now, I posted a poll on Twitter and asked over on Instagram if any of you would be interested in the ways I use the likes of eBay, Depop, and Vinted to snag those secondhand fashion items to add to my wardrobe and a lot of you said yes. It's also Fashion Revolution Week this week (20th April - 26th April 2020) so this is a fitting time to share how to shop secondhand instead of buying new - especially boycotting those fast fashion brands. I've blogged about Fashion Revolution Week for the past two years so check out those posts if you want a little more of an idea of what it is and what it involves!

Before we get into it properly, I'm going to pop a little disclaimer here on my attitude towards sourcing fast fashion secondhand: I can be influenced by trends just as much as the next person. I still check fast fashion sites and stores to see what new things are in - particularly when my wardrobe is lacking something. I use them as inspiration for what I want to find secondhand. I have no issues with giving fast fashion a place in my wardrobe. To me, it's better off in my wardrobe where it will be well worn and well loved than going to landfill. It's that simple. So if I know there's a certain brand who are smashing the styles I like currently or someone I follow on Instagram has recently worn something that is exactly what I've been looking for, I will 100% search for that brand or item.

I have massively downsized my wardrobe over the last few years but I am in no way a minimalist with it. And that's okay, as long as everything is being worn. So enough of this; let's get into how I find what I'm looking for:

Know what you're searching for
That might sound obvious but, knowing different phrases and words to search for when looking for something specific really helps. If it's something that's been incredibly popular on the high street for instance, knowing what it was called on it's original place of sale will help, along with descriptive words. For example, the Zara "poplin" dress was extremely popular last summer. If you were to search for it, it would narrow your search if you include "poplin" in your search words.

Also knowing things such as the fabric, colour, and season can help boost your search results. If it's an item that you've seen all over your Instagram feed or all over your favourite fashion blogs, add "blogger favourite" or "on trend" or "this season" or "sold out" into the mix - it will definitely boost your chances of finding it! Is it something a celebrity has had on on TV? Searching that person's name will also help (think things like "Holly Willoughby" or "Made in Chelsea" and you might find what you're looking for.

Know what you're happy to overlook
Another thing to bear in mind when you're searching for a particular item is to know what elements of it you're not so bothered about being perfect. For instance, if you're searching for an oversized dress or you're in-between sizes, are you happy to get the next size up or down from your ideal size?

If so, search for those sizes too! Another great way to find something similar to what you're looking for is adding the word "style" to your search. Many items sold with a brand name and "style" added after it means that it is a dupe of that popular sell out item. It might be slightly different in colour, size, style, etc. but if you're happy to compromise, you can potentially find something equally as nice that ticks the box.

Get ready for auctions
Okay so, eBay has been around for some time but, it's always good to know how to fight those auctions in the right way. When you're searching for something, sort your search into "ending soonest" and the auctions which are soon to end will be listed first. This is especially helpful if you're searching during the day. I have found that some complete gems have gone under other people's radars because their sale ends at an awkward time (e.g. at 2pm on a weekday afternoon when a lot of people are at work). This means you can slide on in there with not a lot of chance of being outbid.

If you miss an auction and the item didn't sell - contact the seller! I've done this a couple of times with both clothing and toys for Teddy and it's usually worked in my favour. If you offer to take an item off a seller's hands at a reasonable price you both agree on, both parties are happy.

Use your watchlist effectively
So, you've been searching the auctions and the exact item you want is on there but it's auction doesn't finish for another 6 days. Add it to your watchlist and keep an eye on it! If you have the eBay app, you can set up notifications so the app will remind you when an auction listing is about to end if you have it in your watchlist. Think of your watchlist as a curated pinterest board or the same as a wishlist on a fast fashion site. Use it to your advantage to collect the items you want to bid on and let eBay keep an eye on it all for you.

If you're using the likes of Depop or Vinted to find items, the same principle applies. "Like" the item and often sellers will be notified of this. They then might make you an offer to try and get a quick sale (I know I always do when I'm selling on Vinted). Not only does this help you keep track of what you've got your eye on but it means you might save a few quid too!

Can't find what you're looking for? No problem...
... Set up search notifications! You can do this for search terms on eBay or even particular sellers. When I was pregnant for example, there was a darling granny who sold her hand-knitted creations on eBay as a little hobby. I had her shop/user name saved as an alert so every time she put something new on for sale, I would get an alert notification on my phone. If you're trying to get your hands on something that's really popular, this is a great way to keep tabs on everything that is being added for sale that is similar to or exactly what you're looking for.

Depop and Vinted also keep track of what you've recently searched for so you can check back again and again.

Make sure you're misspelling things too
Yep, you read me right. If you're looking for a specific item, think about how some of the words could be spelt differently or what spelling mistakes could have been made. Simple silly things like "white" being spelt "qhite" because it's next to it on the keyboard could make your perfect item go under your search bar radar.

Another "spelling error" to keep in mind is autocorrect. Say you're looking for something from the Topshop Moto collection: type "moto" on your phone and see what autocorrect might try and change it to. That same thing could have happened to the seller who listed said item and they may not have realised! Searching for these errors can help you find gems that no one else is aware of because they might not come up in a search.

Searching for similar brands is also a good idea - especially on Depop. Often sellers will state similar brands in terms of style/price bracket etc. in their listings so say for example you searched "& Other Stories", you may get items pop up from Cos, H&M etc. because they're similar.

Tailor your searches to fit you
On the likes of Depop and Vinted, you can set up your searches to only include your sizes so you don't get your hopes up and find your dream shoes in a size 8 when you're a size 3 (story of my life). I like Vinted a lot for this as the "feed" only shows me items that are in the sizes I want to look for. It can make browsing much easier and more streamline.

Use the change of seasons to your advantage
If you're looking for summer dresses or things to wear for you next beach getaway, start searching for these things in spring. Many sellers will wait until the weather starts to warm up to list these sorts of items and again, may choose to list things like big coats and chunky jumpers at the end of summer/start of autumn as the weather starts to change. If you're not looking for any specifics or you don't *need* to find something by a certain deadline, search out of season too. I've sometimes made the mistake of selling summery items during the middle of winter and it's meant they've sold for next to nothing because they're out of season so not many people are looking for them.

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Maisie said...

I LOVE ebay, but I hate the anxiety bidding gives me haha! I hadn't thought about adding "style" !! Deffo going to try that one! I've recently decided that I need to find myself a pink cord jacket haha, so good luck to me with that one! x

Unknown said...

Very informative and commendable blog.
Here is my small attempt on writing about Fast fashion, textile waste and how we can take steps for taking care of Mother Earth and it's people as she does for us. People need to dedicate and expand their knowledge so that we can make a difference as we are all together in this.

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