Why we love pre-loved (and 12 tips to help you shop Vinted like a pro)
Loving clothes shouldn’t be a system of always buying new. Fortunately, more and more people are realising the benefits, both for the environment and the bank balance, of buying vintage. A recent study of over 2000 shoppers, conducted by Oxfam and cognitive psychologist Professor Carolyn Mair, found that a quarter of those surveyed said the shopping thrill lasts longer when purchasing second-hand. ‘Engaging with fashion this way has the same positive effect on the brain as buying brand new,’ says Mair, ‘Pre-loved fashion can make us feel just as happy as a brand new item does, as you still get that new-to-me effect.’
Obviously, it goes without saying that the most sustainable thing we can all do is to re-wear and re-style the clothes that we already own. But, if you’re taking part in Oxfam’s Second-Hand September, or you’re looking to refresh your wardrobe for autumn, some well-chosen pre-loved pieces could be the answer. I am not ready to completely give up buying new, but I’m increasingly aware of the damage that both my career and shopping habits are having on the planet. In my quest to support a more circular system, I’ve turned to re-sale platforms like Vinted to source exactly what I’m after and reduce the urge to splurge on the high street. (Though, shopping this way is not without uncertainties concerning the ethics of what we are buying, and from who. Is buying from Zara second-hand any better than buying it new? I’ll leave that one up to you.)
Vinted is an online marketplace where users can buy, sell and exchange second-hand items, it can be accessed by phone, tablet or desktop. After 21 purchases over the last two years, I’ve identified many of the positives and pitfalls, and learned a thing or two about how to navigate the platform. Here is my advice on how to shop Vinted like a pro:
Filters are your friend: At first the sheer quantity available on the site can seem overwhelming. If your search term is quite vague, like ‘black dress’ for instance, you’ll get thousands of results. A better search term would be ‘black cotton midi shirt dress with belt’. It’s best to be as specific as possible with your search, then use the various filters to whittle down the results by size, brand, condition and colour. If I’m not shopping with a particular purchase in mind, I find it easiest to shop by brand and then filter results to my dress size, only. You can ‘favourite’ any searches by clicking the little banner shape that appears next to the search bar.
Personalise your feed: The personalisation option lets you filter the content on Vinted (to save you scrolling through sizes that won’t fit and brands that you’re not interested in). To personalise your feed, head to your profile and then go to ‘personalisation’. Pick your favourite brands so more of their content will show up on your feed. And finally, in the personalisation setting you can set an option for your favourite sellers so when they list something, it’s likely to appear on your feed, if it’s the right size for you.
Find quality pieces: Second-hand shops and sites are flooded with low-quality fabrics and fast fashion cast-offs. Buying online means that unfortunately you won’t be able to scrutinise the fabric up close, so if you can, opt for natural fibres like cotton, silk, linen, wool and cashmere from decent labels. We don’t need to add any more sequins to the world (reports suggest they take up to 500 years to degrade) so if you’re after some sparkle, check out second-hand offerings to keep any glitz in circulation for longer.
Message sellers for item specifics: The main obstacle of buying second-hand clothing online? Finding the right fit. Obviously, there’s no option to exchange for another size if a garment doesn’t fit, and often sellers won’t let you return items. Arm yourself with a list of your key measurements and message the seller for any sizing information they might have overlooked in the item’s description (e.g armpit-to-armpit, shoulder to hem, waist size); this should enable you to work out if it’s going to fit. If you’re buying an item made by a big brand, take a look at the size chart on their website to help give you a steer.
Don’t be afraid to haggle: Prices are generally very low on Vinted. This may be because people use it as a quick and easy way to declutter, and are more interested in clearing space than selling items for the highest price. It is commonly accepted that buyers will haggle and offer a slightly lower price (the lowest you can offer is 40% off the selling price, and you’re limited to making five offers per day). If the seller accepts your offer, then just hit the ‘buy now’ button and it takes you to the payment screen. The seller might come back with a counter-offer which you can choose whether to accept or not. Don’t forget to factor in the postage and buying fee though! More info HERE.
Avoid items that need authenticating: It’s incredibly tricky to know if an item is the real deal. Vinted is flooded with fakes and there are no protocols in place to protect buyers from being scammed. Some sellers will be able to provide receipts and certificates of authenticity, but without seeing the item up close, I would err on the side of caution.
Check the seller ratings: It sounds bleeding obvious but do check a seller’s ratings before you buy. I say this as someone who has been stung by a fake item, and had two weeks of aggro trying to get my money back. Think twice before buying something from a seller with no feedback, or one with less-than-positive reviews.
Keep a folder of favourites: To curb impulse shopping, click the little heart symbol on the item you like, this will add it to your ‘favourites folder’. Then you can mull it over, later. When you ‘favourite’ an item, Vinted is notified and similar items will appear, helping to keep your opening page relevant to your tastes. (Sometimes once you’ve favourited an item the seller might get in touch to offer it to you for a discounted price).
Let the algorithms help you: The more you search and shop on Vinted, the more the algorithms will start to understand your style preferences. Click the ‘heart’ button of your favourite labels, sellers and pieces, and try clicking on ‘similar items’ to get even more suggestions . All of this activity will add up to a fairly good picture of the kind of things you like, and quite quickly your ‘Recommended for you’ section on the homepage will become a curated edit of items you’ll appreciate.
Shop lesser-known labels: I’ve had great luck bagging bargains from smaller labels, brands that shoppers are less likely to search for. A Munthe coat for £18, a pair of vintage Jaeger flares for £10, a Wood Wood colour block jumper for £12 and a pair of Church’s loafers for a bargainous £22. Happy days. It’s also the savviest way to shop for labels that might be out of reach normally. I’ve recently spotted a gorgeous coat from MaxMara for £95 (new RRP approx £950) and a there is ton of J Crew from the Jenna Lyons era, on there.
Seek something unusual: Nothing quite beats the feeling when you find an absolute gem that completely expresses your personal sense of style. I have a wardrobe full of simple basics, and can sometimes feel a bit plain, so I use Vinted to find more unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that I can’t find elsewhere. Recently I’ve unlocked several new outfits with a striped satin jacket from H&M’s 2013 studio collection.
Accept that occasional issues might be part of the deal: Your rights are nowhere near as strong as when buying from a shop. Customers have 48-hours to report any issues and return, provided the item is ‘significantly not as described’, so please bear this in mind. For me, the odd hiccup is worth the opportunity to find some second-hand steals.
More second-hand style:
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