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Designer clothing brands are known far and wide…Tom Ford, Prada, Versace, Stella McCartney, Oscar de la Renta, and many others. The designer and luxury brands that dominate primary markets also excite the secondary apparel market as well. Fashion resale is growing at a rate that will soon surpass that of fast fashion itself. According to GlobalData, it’s growing 21 times faster than the sales coming from new clothes! And by 2024, fashion resale will reach $36 billion.
Historically, there’s been a stigma around owning secondhand high-end goods. And sustainability was simply not part of the discussion. Now, everyone is looking for a piece of the pie as more consumers shop with sustainability in mind. Apparel resellers have seized that opportunity and specialized in selling designer clothes online often sourced through liquidation marketplaces like the ones B-Stock operates. In fact, over 90% of B-Stock buyers surveyed find it important to work with companies that value sustainability and practice sustainability in their business.
In this blog, we will go into more detail on:
Other countries are taking part in the resale business. Emerging markets, like those in India and Russia, along with Mexico and Colombia, are tapping into their local markets to bring preloved goods into the hands of more consumers. Brazil is doing the same. Plum, a Chinese luxury fashion resale platform, has raised $50 million and is going toe to toe with other competitors like Secoo and Zhi Er. Secondhand luxury platform Isheyipai is another contender.
The US has held 31% of the luxury market in 2019, with platforms like thredUP, The Real Real, Depop, and others leading the charge. While Japan held 28% of luxury resale market share. China currently holds about 5% of the luxury resale market—but is on its way to a $154.6 billion luxury resale market. Also worth noting that 50% of consumers for those secondhand luxury goods are below 30 in China—which is bigger than the entire U.S. population!
So, designer clothes are popular for reselling. Now how do you get to selling designer clothes online?
While you get to know your category, it’s good to start small. From haute couture to designer, and even contemporary apparel, you have to start small and research brands well. You can start individually sourcing and flipping apparel items by way of retail arbitrage. This means you can buy clearance designer items from retailers like TJ Maxx and Marshalls, online sites like The Outnet and Rebag, and department stores like Nordstrom Rack and Macy’s, and resell them closer to MSRP. Other ways to source include online bargain hunting, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, secondhand stores, consignment stores, and estate sales.
You wouldn’t want to unintentionally sell counterfeit or knock-off designer clothes. That’s why authenticating is a very important step. Know what you’re looking for and carefully source designer clothes regardless of buying online or in-person. There are tons of tell-tale signs to spot a fake — like inspecting the linings and buckles on handbags or checking the texture and color of leather. Over time, real leather fades and fake leather will look the same as it’s made with synthetic materials. If you’re specializing in vintage apparel, there are even more things to look out for when dating items and determining authenticity!
Stock photos don’t always cut it. You should take time photographing designer clothes with good lighting. A phone with a nice camera or DSLR should do the trick. Point out any wear and tear and be explicit with the condition. An important thing to call out is whether it’s new with tags or used. Also note some sites are more partial to real people modeling clothing, like on Depop.
If you want to build a brand for yourself as a trusted and reliable seller, it’s worth investing in a few tools of the trade. For example, sturdy and good quality boxes, tissue paper, tape, and in some cases, security tag removers and stain removers. If you want to go one step further, add in thank you cards to your customers and ask for reviews on whatever site they purchased your item(s) on!
Getting professional repairs will allow you to price your item higher. In the case of customer returns or buying older, thrifted pieces for resale, you may want to get professional repairs done if you can’t do them yourself. Yes, it will cost a bit extra, but you don’t risk potentially ruining a zipper or making a stain worse! This is also useful for those dabbling in reselling shoes for profit or vintage items.
Pick the reselling platform where you have the right audience. Ask yourself if shoppers are looking for what you have to offer. You should consider where you will get the best prices, too. For example, where are you more likely to look for a Gucci baseball cap versus an athletic, everyday Gap brand hat. Some resale platforms for apparel include:
You can sell designer clothes online on one or all of these platforms! Decide if the consignment shop model works better for you – where you send in your items to a platform and they take care of listing for you – or if you’d rather do peer to peer selling – where you’re in charge of listing and marketing your own items on a given marketplace. Platforms that inspect and authenticate items for you will likely take a larger cut (The Real Real and ThredUp, for example) and may eat into your profit margins. Or, if you want to specialize even further, create your own website for reselling. Bear in mind that this will take a lot more time, effort, and monetary commitment than signing up for one of these reselling platforms.
What are others reselling it for? Have you considered seasonality and when new collections are dropping? Is it extra trendy right now? How readily available is the item? Meaning, is it still being sold in stores, or was it a limited release? You want to properly account for any seller’s fees on each marketplace, what you paid for it, and what shipping will cost you. Of course, designer brand names, seasonality, and condition all play a role here as well.
There are a few things you will want to keep in mind when buying designer clothes to resell online. Here are some top-level things to consider:
Inventory with prominent logos that feature brands in the top 10-20 tier (Think: Balenciaga, Burberry, Valentino, Dolce&Gabbana) are likely to generate better returns simply because more eyeballs are on this inventory. Simply put, designer and ready-to-wear (RTW) are the brands consumers want.
The more nationally well-known the brand, the more likely it is to get recognized and have better results than smaller, more exclusive brands. A consumer may not be well versed in those brands versus another more recognizable brand.
Budget for the kind of clothes you know you can resell, designer and otherwise. For example, selling designer clothes online with tags can earn you a higher profit, especially if it’s still in season, but it will cost you more. Maybe you will choose to start with customer returns. These items have been previously purchased and returned by the customer. Dot com returns are typically in better condition — without being able to try on clothes when shopping online, shoppers must do it at home. This contributes to the common practice of buying multiple sizes and sending back the ones that do not fit.
Spring and summer fashion weeks are also good indicators of what designer trends are going on right now. Whether those new styles look like pastels, knits and crochet, bralettes and corsets, or wide-leg pants, blazers, and cutouts. Designers like Hermès, Dior, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, and all the big players help forecast merchandise that ends up in retail stores for the everyday consumer. So for apparel manufacturers, department stores, and resellers like you, fashion shows are a way to stay on top of the ever-changing fashion industry.
What’s in today can often be out tomorrow—don’t get discouraged by that. If you check what’s selling in stores now, you will have a good idea of what shoppers are interested in. The same goes for browsing online and other resale sites. For example, if sportswear and loose denim are flooding secondary markets, you know these are probably hot ticket items right now. But that can also mean more competition. The opposite is also true. If you’ve seen that bold print long sleeve has been on clearance for weeks without any takers—you know it’s not catching shoppers’ eyes.
There are seasonal trends that you can always fall back on, such as the importance of dresses during wedding season and for holidays, events, and other special occasions. If you’re selling designer dresses, don’t miss the opportunity to offer shapewear for shoppers who may be looking for both.
Stock up for spring and summer get-togethers with the right clothes, and even seasonal fabrics like wool, wool blends, and cashmere that come around in the fall for men’s classics especially. Shoes are also the quickest way to update any wardrobe or outfit!
As more brands embrace resale, some are even offering their own official resale marketplaces that customers can sell on. Whether that is by building their own in-house operation, or by partnering with established resale channels, like Alexander McQueen’s partnership with Vestiaire Collective or Gucci’s campaign with The Real Real. Another option that companies like Reflaunt provide is offsetting the selling portion to other resale platforms by automatically listing it for the brand’s customers. In that case, customers get either cash or shopping credits with the brand. Another such company is Trove, which handles resale ops for Levi and Patagonia. With more resale platforms on the rise, it’s an option to be aware of if you’re specializing in selling designer clothes.
Brand’s prioritization of resale is in an effort to retain customer loyalty and control the experience of where and how shoppers get their hands on preloved apparel—which is a question of when not if—they shop secondhand. By encouraging shoppers of designer brands to then sell their previous purchases, they keep them engaged and offer perks like credits for new purchases.
Preloved designer clothes are hitting resale sites like there’s no tomorrow. If you’re in the market for sourcing large quantities of designer clothes to sell online, and for a good price, liquidation apparel is a good way to do it. When you shop directly from the source, you don’t have to worry about authenticity and middlemen markups. Since this inventory is being liquidated, you can get pallets of quality overstock, customer returns, and other liquidation inventory from the brands you know and love.
Start shopping designer and everyday apparel from retailers like Macy’s, Target, Zulilly, QVC, Land’s End, Hanesbrands, and others! To get started, simply register on the apparel marketplaces of your choice and become a B-Stock buyer today.