Rather than always buying new, we can now shop online for second-hand clothes with merely a few clicks. And a whole range of online thrift stores, appealing to almost any style and taste, has cropped up to help us beat fast fashion ills.
It wasn’t that long ago that your search for second-hand clothing items meant you probably had to set out on the hunt for local bargain bins. Regular thrifters will have been able to find pieces through persistence and effort, leaving the more casual thrifter wanting for more.
The other problem with tipping up to your local thrift store is not knowing in advance what might be in stock, from rich treasure troves of second-hand items to very little at all.
Online thrift stores, sometimes also called consignment stores (whereby the store reimburses the seller after purchase), have leaped into online shopping for second-hand boots and all. With growing environmental awareness and people turning to zero-waste lifestyles, many have ridden a wave of increasing popularity.
What’s more, because they list all their used clothing items online, you can undertake your online thrifting to your heart’s content from the comfort of your own home.
Today, of course, pretty much everything we might want for is a click and home delivery slot away. Whereas perhaps a little slower to the party, online thrift stores, like most things, now come in different shapes and sizes — each appealing to a slightly different type of online thrift customer.
You’ll find you still need to shop around for exactly what pieces you want when choosing the store that appeals to your fashion sense and price point. Thankfully, the best online thrift stores make it easy to buy the brands you love, often at bargain prices. And, of course, the clothes you want to get delivered, from shopping for the best vintage finds quirky one-offs to designer brands.
Shipping: Varies by seller - check before you buy
Many online thrift stores have sprung up on Etsy to meet the ever-increasing demand for secondhand clothes. Alongside their mainstay craft goods, you can now find many high-quality vintage clothing, upcycled shoes, and accessories, and more.
Founded in 2005, today, Etsy is a big business. Over 60 million items stack their virtual shelves. Clearly, there’s ample demand for the less mainstream products or non-big brand items you can’t find anywhere else.
Each Etsy seller tends to survive or otherwise based on the quality of the goods they sell and the resulting reviews they receive. As such, you’ll find a plethora of unique vintage clothing on the site for men and women. All are vying for your online thrifting click, doing away with unethical sourcing, and appealing to a wide variety of vintage clothing tastes.
Have a browse of the virtual shelves of Berlin-based SooLastSeason who retail a fantastic selection of vintage eyewear and big brand thrift couture. Or stop by the OldBlessing thrift store from Oregon, United States, which sells bold and colorful vintage pieces.
A quick search reveals even more independent designers on Etsy. These often smaller boutiques or one-person enterprises turn secondhand items into unique finds for far less than the retail price of buying new.
Shipping: US & Canada only.
ThredUP lays claim to be the world’s largest online consignment shops.
ThredUP began life when founder, James, observed how little he regularly wore some items from his closet. Something we expect many readers will relate to when stopping to consider all those not-quite-right-for-the-moment garments that rarely see the light of day.
Amongst 65 million items listed and 100s of brands often at 90% of the retail price, you’re almost certainly set for a thrifting find. This behemoth online thrift store stocks well-known brands like Gucci and Burberry and even has a great selection of designer labels under $50. Something for every budget.
ThredUP is also right up there for clearing out your wardrobe of those unwanted and lesser loved pieces.
ThredUP makes it easy to send them your old clothing pieces. With a few clicks, they’ll send you a “Clean Out Kit” - a green and white polka dot bulk selling bag to stuff full of those unwanted or vintage clothing items, which you can then send back to them.
Once you send back your donation kit bag, ThredUP does all the hard work of getting your items online. They photograph your online thrifting contributions professionally, writing the product description, and shipping to thrift shoppers.
Even better, when items sell, you can get paid out as much as 60-80% of the sale price for higher value items. Even better still, they created UPcycle, which allows you to spend ThredUp Credits at other sustainable retailers. Alternatively, you can choose to donate $5 per bag to ThredUP’s selection of worthy charity partners.
Shipping: International via UPS
Next up in our picks of the best online thrift stores is The Real Real who guarantees authenticity for “Luxury consignment sales.”
Sellers receive up to 85% of each item sold, while online thrift buyers can shop top fashion brands, including Jimmy Choo and Burberry.
They also have a men's section, unlike some of the other online thrift stores. And you are also able to find them at four different brick and mortar US locations, with shops in New York City, LA, and San Francisco.
One of their unique features on-site is a paid-for “first look membership,” which provides those in the know with advance access to thrift clothing sales and special offers.
While the business remains luxury-focused, it tracks its sustainability with its own calculator. Taking steps to achieve carbon-neutral status in 2021 while saving 14,300 metric tonnes of carbon as users replace new purchasing behavior with online consignment. The Real Real is the real, sustainable shopping deal.
Shipping: Flat rate across the US and Internationally
Luxury Garage Sale, founded in 2011, has a more upmarket positioning. Their well-stocked online thrift store shelves include designer labels from Miu Miu through Chanel, all at considerably less than retail prices. They also cover various categories of covetable thrift from Jewelry through Accessories and Men’s.
Should you find yourself local, do pop by Luxury Garage Sale’s two brick-and-mortar sites, one in Chicago and the other in Dallas. Don’t worry if you can’t, however, because their online experience is well-honed.
Also, standing out amongst the other online thrift stores, they offer a more personalized touch. You can drop them a line, and a personal stylist will do their best to help you find just the right luxury vintage look or piece you’re after.
Shipping: Global Locations (Europe, US, Canada) and International Shipping
Urban Outfitters predominantly attract younger adults with consistently eye-catching items that appeal to hipsters and urban fashionistas. Their mainstay is new clothing lines. However, since 1983, they’ve also been curating an excellent range of renewed vintage finds appealing to online thrifting.
The Urban Renewal site is an excellent choice for curated and trendy thrift items carefully chosen by their team to appeal to a certain sense of urban aesthetic. As they describe it on their site, “a bit like your favorite thrift store finds but without the crate digging.”
Shipping: Varies by seller - check before you buy
Launched in 2010, you’ll find ASOS Marketplace, the thrift store portal within ASOSs new brand mainstay. Since they have built a reputation as home to the best independent brands and vintage boutiques.
With over 900 boutiques on the ASOS marketplace platform, there’s a vast array of carefully selected online thrifting gems from independent retailers who want to sell you unique pieces. More often than not less the original cost. From hundreds of second-hand Nike t’s and hoodies through over 6000 (at the time of writing) vintage dress selections and other secondhand items and vintage peices.
You can also browse the thrift stores listed on the ASOS marketplace website. For example, pop by The East End Thrift Store (UK), the self-described “Legendary Cult Vintage Store” for handpicked sweats and denim.
Or try Nordic Poetry for a fine line in British Vogue items, including colors for summer and top brands.
We love the ethos Patagonia shares. Patagonia Worn Wear is their dedicated online platform for recycling their items and allows you to send back your own branded gear and, in return, receive a store credit for new Patagonia clothing. If you have torn articles, they’ll even mend them for you before resale.
As one of the leading sustainable retailers, Patagonia champions making clothes that last. Stop by worn wear for second-hand Patagonia items to purchase and do your bit for the planet.
Shipping: International shipping with prices varying by country of origin
Vestiaire Collective’s online thrift store specializes in higher-end luxury designer items. Vestiaire Collective rigorously checks the authenticity of each item stocked to make sure you receive the real deal.
For those looking for top brands, you can shop everything from Cartier through Miu Miu. The price points reflect the original retail value, with the site usually offering pre-loved authentic vintage items at 30 - 70% of retail.
They also do designer lines in sport, dinnerware, and home decor. Perfect for those who might be looking for a Louis Vuitton racket cover for considerably less than the $2000+ it retails for new.
Farfetch is another substantial online marketplace. When looking for the best online thrift stores, they have a dedicated “Pre-Owned” section on their website for Women. With everything from Bulgari Bags to Prada Coats, their second-hand items are well worth browsing for higher-end pieces.
Shipping: Varies by seller - check before you buy
eBay makes our best online thrift store list in no small part as it was basically one of the original consignment shops online, long before the likes of ASOS marketplace even existed.
Of course, this online marketplace does a lot more than vintage clothing or online thrift clothing finds. Many third-party seller sites that EBAY lists sell online vintage clothing items, band tees, and hundreds of one-off items from fashion through home decor. Users can seek one-of-a-kind finds unique to this vast site not found on the more specialist websites.
Give eBay's online platform a look for that second-hand Tommy Hilfiger hoodie you so covet or a one-of-a-kind mystery box of vintage clothes. Their handy search function will help you land the clothing you’re looking for.
Shipping: International from the US
Here the clue is in the name. Rebag is the website to visit if you’re after a second-hand handbag or any other type of bag, from totes to backpacks.
They have their own unique “infinity exchange,” which allows users to enjoy one of their bag purchases for up to 12 months, and then when you return the item, you can receive up to 70-80% off your next choice.
Given that many people may choose to change bags as their style and tastes evolve, this could be the perfect solution for the circular handbag experience.
Shipping: US and International via freight forwarding
Tradesy positions itself as the marketplace made by women for women. Tradesy was founded back in 2009 by Tracy Dinunzio with a stated mission to “fix fashion.” And that’s something we can get behind.
Top designers on the site include Chanel, Prada, and Christian Louboutin. They also have one of the largest selections of pre-loved wedding dresses and accessories that we’ve seen in the thrift store space.
The site offers many value-added services for website users. Their “closet concierge” provides a range of services from personal styling to consignment assistance. Perfect for the time short consignee, closet concierge personally select clothes in your home to take away and resell on the site.
Shipping: the US only
Poshmark is another one of those best online thrift stores seemingly on a march. A bit different from some of the other best picks, Poshmark pitches itself as a social marketplace for fashion.
The website and app are truly peer to peer in that any individual can list their one-off staples & thrifted pieces for resale. Someone in Miami can list Dior, and someone in NYC can purchase a Fendi handbag from a seller in California.
Rather than specializing in luxury, Poshmark is more about breadth and selection. You can also pick up some great deals and discounts by negotiating directly with the seller on price which makes for a no-brainer to save a bit of extra cash.
Today they have over 60 million community members and over 100 million items worth checking out listed for sale. If you find a particular selection that really appeals, you’ll also receive a discount when you buy more than one item from the same seller.
Sometimes overlooked in the search for online thrift is the Facebook marketplace. Most sellers here offer up a few items, and you’ll find it less dedicated to thrift than the other sites. Other users on Facebook’s platform proffer unwanted fashion wears, and the advantage is it's a great place to grab a thrifty find near you.
However, you’ll find it less easy to browse by category than other options. You'll have to weave your way around everything from home decor to second-hand cars. Also, as per Poshmark, you’re buying directly from the seller, so be aware of making sure you’re on to genuine finds before parting with your hard-earned money.
Depop hails from London, UK, and is an app where “the next generation come to discover unique items.” Depop is one of the best online thrift stores for those looking for one-of-a-kind items to really express themselves.
The app has a social media feel and openly pitches itself at the younger millennial and gen z audiences. As a seller, you can upload items you want to make money from, from denim shorts to Hawaiian prints. Once they sell an item, they send sellers a shipping label and 10% of the fee to keep once received.
As a buyer, you can curate your feed of those one-off items you’re feeling. Depop definitely has its own edgier style making it one of the best places for this unique aesthetic. It builds on its founding roots and history as the shopping side of PIG magazine featuring “young fresh new & talented artists in music fashion cinema arts and design.”
Shipping: International from the UK
Beyond Retro in London is one of the most iconic vintage stores in Europe. They initially opened in 2002 as a bricks-and-mortar outlet. Beyond Retro sources its vintage clothes items from those donated to charity, preventing them from going to landfill or incineration. As such, their website is stacked full of one-off clothes finds.
They’ve since matured from this first London site to 9 stores across London and Sweden and remain a go-to destination for retro thrift hunters, local to their stores, or visiting from afar.
In 2010 their online thrift store was launched, bringing their retro wares to a broader audience. According to their website, Beyond Retro rehomed 90 million clothing items last year - that’s pretty amazing! Selling items from their vintage stores online saves you the trek across to London to find exactly what you want from their pre-owned clothing selections.
Shipping: the UK only
Thrift+ is a notable entry at number 15 in this list of best online thrift stores. Founded in 2014 by Joe Metcalfe, Thrift+ is a UK-only website business recently featured on Dragons Den as part of a £950K raise.
We like what Joe and the team are setting out to achieve - providing an online contender to UK charity shop donating and shopping. After a fair fee to process the old clothes that consumers send for processing in their unique Thrift+ boxes, they split the proceeds equally between the sender and a chosen charity.
Nice, a bit of extra cash and helping out a good cause. And this addition to our best online thrift list deserves every success.
The environmental impact of throwaway items that might fit the latest trends is more widely known. Similarly, the human cost of cheap, mass-produced items has highlighted the need for more sustainable living and fashion choices.
Typically, new clothes that fall into the fast fashion bracket get worn less than five times. People snap up the next hottest trend, original prints, styles, and looks as they roll off the production lines in an overseas garment factory. And often, last year's favorite can sit in the back of a wardrobe doing no one any good or gets discarded.
Shop online thrift stores and save a synthetic garment from a landfill by giving it a new home. You’ll also be helping in a small way to prevent a fraction of the 85% of plastic pollution in the oceans that come from microfibres1[x] when we carelessly discard clothes.
Every new-to-the-owner item of clothing you buy from online thrift stores doesn’t require manufacturing, which positively impacts the environment. And each online thrift store purchase you make gives a second-hand clothing item a new lease of life.
Thanks for reading 💚
|Accumulation of Microplastic on Shorelines Woldwide: Sources and Sinks, Mark Anthony Browne, Phillip Crump, Stewart J. Niven, Emma Teuten, Andrew Tonkin, Tamara Galloway, and Richard Thompson, Environmental Science & Technology 2011 45 (21), 9175-9179, DOI: 10.1021/es201811s|
|WRAP, Valuing Our Clothes: the cost of UK Fashion, July 2017.|