Building a sustainable wardrobe that is more eco friendly by frequenting thrift stores is an excellent idea. However, thrifting is not always as effortless as it may sound as you need to spend a little bit of time digging around to find beautiful pieces, but you can do that from the comfort of your sofa as there is an ever-growing number of online thrift stores around.
We see thrifting as a modern-day treasure hunt, there is nothing like finding something truly beautiful hidden in a pile of “junk”.
The golden rule of thrifting is just to have a go. If you keep an open mind and accept that you might just find the perfect item or nothing at all it will help you to be more patient. There will be times when you’ll be trawling through pages of hideousness, but on the flip side, this will inevitably teach you to be patient, as you’re bound to find the perfect piece for a bargain. However, online thrifting will definitely increase your chances of success as there are so many great stores that you are bound to find something amazing.
Get to Know your Favourite Online Thrift Stores and their Sections
For successful thrifting, it’s important to master this aspect as it will help to cut down on time spent. Understanding what you like and which items work for you is a great time saver as you know exactly where to start your search. It is also helpful to know the designers and their styles as some stores only photograph the flat item which means you can’t really gauge what it will look like when worn. So knowing a bit more about the item is helpful but not essential.
Finding Unique Style Items
Don’t forget to have a quick browse of the men’s sections as well as there can be real gems hiding there for e.g. men’s graphic tees often offer a great selection of oversized t’s. Another option to consider is men’s jeans and jackets, you can find unique styles that are longer if you’re on the taller side.
When thrifting online pay attention to the structure of the website as you can find truly great vintage pieces if you know where to navigate to. Most sites allow you to search by brand, colour, style, price and size which makes scouting for vintage designer items online much easier and faster than in the store. Also, have a quick browse of the purses and accessories to see if there are any items that catch your eye.
Remember the Microplastics
Note that clothing bought through thrift shops are a great way to build a more eco-friendly wardrobe, but items will still potentially shed microplastics every time they are washed as many garments will have been made from synthetic fibres. Luckily this reduces every time an item is washed which makes thrifting great on the sustainability front. If you’d like to know more about microplastics and how to filter them out I’ll add a bit of info at the end of the post.
So you think you’re ready to hit the shops?
We’ve put together a list of the best online thrift stores to help you find the most beautiful pre-loved items without having to go very far.
1. Etsy Vintage (Global)
Etsy is a well known global marketplace for unique products. It’s home to a universe of special, extraordinary items, from unique handcrafted pieces to vintage treasures.
They have an impressive range of vintage items that can be located using a filter on the site’s clothing section. Just navigate to clothing and select vintage as the links and items vary by country.
Items range from low-cost bargains to more pricey designer items.
2. Thrift + (UK)
Thrift + is a social venture that works with UK based charities to bring their offerings online as charities have notoriously struggled to provide great user experience to customers online. You can probably say it’s an Amazon-style store for pre-loved items.
The store also allows you to donate your old items directly to a chosen charity by dropping off a bag at a listed location.
With this site, you have the option to shop high street brands or designer fashion making it a great all-rounder as there are items priced for every budget. You’ll be able to find anything from Alexander McQueen, Jimmy Choo and Burberry to Levi’s, Nike and Zara
2. Tredup (USA)
Tredup is the world’s largest online secondhand store with thousands of like-new styles at up to 90% off estimated retail. Every single one of the 15K new arrivals added to the site daily is 100% authentic and in such good shape, anyone could mistake them for new. They promise not to sell any knockoffs and you can find high-quality used women’s and children’s clothing.
The site carries a great selection of brands including Lulu Lemon, Anthropology, The North Face, J Crew and many more. They also have a section for new with tags designer items which is handy if you’re looking to exclude them.
3. Thrifted (UK based but Ships Worldwide)
Thrifted is built on a belief of circular fashion and quality clothing that can have three or more lives.
Designer items on Thrifted are more competitively priced than on some of the other thrift stores so it’s definitely worth a visit. For e.g. there is a good selection of vintage Versace and Dolce and Gabbana for under £50.
The filters on the site is a little bit limited, but you can definitely find a bargain with a bit of digging here.
4. Oxfam (UK)
Those who live in the UK will know Oxfam very well as they have many high street outlets around the country. They are a charitable organisation working to eradicate poverty and proceeds go to all their projects around the world.
The site has some really good bargains, but as with Oxfam’s brick and mortar stores, you do need to dig around a little to find those all-star pieces worth your money. You can find anything from unbranded items to high street names and vintage designer pieces, so there is something for any budget here.
5. Vestiaire Collective (Global)
Vestiaire Collective is the leading online marketplace to buy and sell authenticated pre-owned luxury fashion. Here you can discover a selection of luxury and premium items at up to 70% off retail price.
Since their launch in 2009, they have grown from a French company to a global one whilst maintaining a strong Parisian DNA. Their platform sells peer to peer and has over 7 million members located in over 50 countries across Europe, the US, Australia and Asia. They have offices in Paris, London, New York, Berlin, Milan and Hong Kong.
Vestiaire offers a large range of women’s clothing as well as thrifting options for menswear, kidswear, bags, watches, jewellery, shoes and accessories. Items are authenticated before shipped to you, but this process only happens after an item is sold. Note that item prices are displayed in USD.
6. Luxury Garage Sale (USA)
Founded in 2011, Luxury Garage Sale is a curated collection of authentic, pre-owned pieces from the world’s most beloved luxury brands. Stand-out items from brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Herm’s, Christian Louboutin and David Yurman arrive daily. Authenticity is always guaranteed. You can either shop online or visit their boutiques in Chicago or Dallas.
You can also sell your items on their website.
As the name says this site focuses on luxury items that are a bit higher on the pricing scale, but you can find a beautiful pair of Christian Louboutins for a reasonable reduction in retail price.
7. Beyond Retro (UK Based but Ships Worldwide)
Beyond Retro carries a range of pre-loved items including womenswear, menswear, sportswear, loungewear and denim. What makes this shop particularly interesting is that they carry a range of up-cycled items.
For their up-cycled range, they take unique vintage pieces and redesign them to update their shape, fit or style with a modern twist. Their designers look to the runways of fashion week and the hottest street-style to bring you on-trend pieces in vintage fabrics that take the guilt out of shopping trend-led fashion.
Prices are very reasonable and there is a range of styles to suit most needs.
8. Rebag (USA)
Rebag specifically focuses on the sale of vintage and pre-loved bags. The site allows you to buy, sell, and exchange the most coveted designer handbags and accessories.
The company offers a handy exchange programme where you can exchange any bag bought from the site within 0-12 months for credit worth 70-80% of its purchase price.
As it’s a specialist site they do carry a massive range of bags at a reasonable percentage off the retail price. But some items do still come with a hefty price tag so it might not be for everyone.
9. Poshmark (USA and Canada)
Poshmark is a social commerce platform for the next generation of retailers and shoppers. They combine the power of people and technology, making shopping and selling simple, social and fun.
They have 60 Million community members across the U.S. & Canada with 100 Million items for sale. Basically, the site allows you to buy from seller stylists who not only sell their personal style but also curate looks for their shoppers.
You can also like your favourite items and be notified about any price reductions. Score extra bargains by bundling items from the same seller.
Note that you can find new and pre-loved items on Poshmark, but identifying second-hand items aren’t that straight forward as the site only allows you to filter new with tags and not the other way around. But with that said, there are still good items to be found here.
9. Depop (UK, USA and Europe)
Depop started out as a social network where PIG’s readers could buy items featured in the magazine. After realizing that they needed a selling function, they created an app as a global marketplace. It’s a mobile space where you can see what friends and influencers are liking, buying, and selling. It’s a bit of a unique experience but is well-loved by many.
The app functions like any other Poshmark type online thrifting operations but looks like an Instagram feed. So if you enjoy shopping with a social feel then Depop might be just what you are looking for. They have a range of vintage items, but it will require a bit more time to get used to the platform so that you are able to find those sought after bargains.
10. ASOS Vintage Marketplace (UK, Europe and USA)
ASOS is a popular fast-fashion retailer in the UK. They were established in 2000, named AsSeenOnScreen with the tagline “Buy what you see on film and TV”. The company later changed its name to ASOS and now have fulfilment centres in the USA, Europe and the UK.
Even though ASOS is associated with fast fashion, they do have a vintage marketplace where you can source a range of styles from vintage boutique stores from around the world.
You can shop by country and follow your favourite stores.
11. eBay (Global)
I’m sure you’ve heard of a site called eBay. It was launched way back in 1995 and was created to buy and sell items of all sorts. eBay does offer a range of second-hand items, but note that there is not much in terms of quality control here so you may very well be buying knock-offs for all that you know.
With that said there are still great items to find here, no doubt, but you’ll need to dig through the listings a little bit more to make sure you’re getting the real deal. Make sure you check the seller reputation to ensure you are buying from legit sellers.
More About Microplastics
According to a 2018 report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 35% of microplastics released into the world’s oceans are from synthetic textiles such as polyester, lycra and acrylic fabrics.
When clothing items are washed, up to 700,000 microscopic fibres make their way into our oceans, these often end up in the sea and become incorporated into the food chain and potentially ending up on our plates. The number of fibres shed by an item of clothing decreases with every wash so pre-loved items should technically shed fewer fibres. However, it is still a good idea to filter these out where possible.
There are two ways to filter out microplastics when you wash items of clothing, the first is using a guppyfriend bag like this. And the second is to invest in this Filtrol, microfibre filter. Both of these are used to stop microplastic fibres to enter the outlet of your washing machine, which means you’ll be able to reduce the damage caused by washing plastic containing fabrics.
We particularly like the Filtrol listed as this is less restrictive and easier to use, you just attach the filter to your washing machine outlet and clean it once it’s filled up. It’s a great timesaver and according to the product’s technical information, it’s really effective.