It’s no secret that the resale market for men's clothing has exploded in the past few years. Whether you’re searching for that designer grail from seasons gone by, or live in an area with more livestock than clothes stores, online reselling is often the most practical way to get your hands on — dare we say it — fire jawnz.
But just because reselling communities and global shipping have allowed anyone to buy from their favorite designers well after their garments are sold out, that doesn’t mean that hunting for aftermarket gems online is without its pitfalls.
Anyone who’s copped through a reseller has likely experienced first-hand issues in fit, quality, shipping — and most frightening of all — the dreaded this doesn’t look anything like it did online situation.
Put simply, dodging scammers, scoring deals and finding exactly what you’re looking for isn’t as easy as it seems. However, it’s certainly not impossible, either.
Whether you're scouring the web for the latest Supreme collab or trawling for some archive Raf Simons, here’s some pointers on how to turn your online deep dive into an IRL flourish — with some handy illustrations courtesy of Yu Nagaba.
Do Your Research
Before you dive headfirst into the secondhand clothing market, you need to spend a few minutes thinking about what exactly it is that you're looking for, and where you might be able to find it.
As for where to look, well that’s up to you — there's countless platforms at your disposal. Many labels have dedicated Facebook groups for reselling - from hyped names like Supreme (of course) and Gosha Rubchinskiy to more niche labels like C.E and Haider Ackermann. Much like old-school message boards, they're filled with both helpful experts and elitist trolls, so don't be offended if it takes a while to get the information you're after. Group admins are also sticklers for rules and online etiquette, so make sure you don't go stepping on any toes in your hunt for the goods.
Grailed has quickly established itself as the go-to destination for high-end designers and hyped labels. It works via a bidding system, so a little bartering will be in order — many users choose to list their prices for way higher than what they're realistically expecting. Depop is a similarly useful tool, although it's only available to use on mobile and is more focussed on streetwear than high-end gear.
There’s also something to be said about doing it like 2005 and diving into a forum you trust. KanyeToThe, StyleForum, or even the wild frontier that is r/malefashionadvice will likely give you some first-hand knowledge that’s going to be beneficial by the time you hit the “buy” button.
It goes without saying that eBay is filled with second-hand clothing, although nowadays it's got more than it's fair share of trash and potentially a lot of fakes, too — real fashion connoisseurs are likely to be listing their stuff somewhere else.
Make sure you shop around a ton of platforms to give you an idea of just how much an item is worth. A bit of basic research should, hopefully, stop you from spending way more than you ought to or from buying bootlegs. A little research goes a long way and will no doubt pay off in the long run.
Corniness aside, knowledge is power.
You won’t be able to try on the goods until you’ve actually forked over your hard-earned cash, so you’ll be living and dying by details culled from size charts. As a rule, for tops you’ll need to know your chest, neck, and sleeve measurements, while for pants you'll need to know your waist and inseam. If you're particularly tall or short then it's also worth bearing in mind a garment's length from shoulder to bottom hem.
The chest is measured by wrapping a tape measure snugly around the fullest part of the chest—basically under the armpits.
Your neck measurement is taken by wrapping a tape measure around the lower part of your neck (roughly an inch below the Adam’s Apple). You'll most likely only need to know this if you're in the market for button-up shirts.
The sleeve is by measured from the center-back of the neck to the wrist bone, while the arm is slightly bent.
The waist is taken by measuring the circumference of the body, roughly around (or a little below) the bellybutton area.
The inseam will require you measuring from the bottom of your…*ahem*...junk, to just south of your ankle. You’ll want some help for this one.
Of course, you’re probably thinking that you can simply buy a size based on other clothing in your collection. But, taking into account international designers and vanity sizing, that’s not always a sure thing. Invest in a tape measure and a few minutes. You’ll thank us later.
Watch Out For Scams
After doing a bit of research on the garment you’re hunting for, you should have a decent understanding of what's out there. Let’s say you’re on the hunt for your very own Supreme Box Logo hoodie, and you stumble across one that's available at a bargain price. If it's too good to be true, then there’s a good chance that you’re tip-toeing near a scam.
If you’re unsure if a piece is genuine or not, there’s generally two ways you can go about solving this issue.
Start by checking the seller. When buying used gear, try to stick to trusted reselling platforms like Grailed or a well-policed user markets like Wavey Garms - beware of the many Chinese websites out there selling convincing knock-offs of hyped gear (aliexpress is one of them). Platforms like eBay and Grailed will have their own seller ratings, which you should be sure to check, while user groups and forums you'll need to "legit check" a potential seller via a post in the group's feed. If a seller's rating is abnormally low, or if user comments seem planted, then think twice before handing over your hard-earned cash.
Additionally, you can always follow the wisdom of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and poll the (online) audience. While the internet isn't exactly a bastion of consistency, two (trustworthy) heads are generally better than one - if you're doubting an item’s authenticity, then it doesn’t hurt to run it by a few people who could confirm if it's legit or not.
Now that you've found what you're looking for, checked that it'll fit you and confirmed it's legit, you need to get in touch with the item's seller to confirm what it is exactly that you're getting yourself into.
Only see runway imagery or press release images next to the listing? Ask for some personal, detailed product shots. The seller should oblige. If they don't, or if they pull images from another listing, then alarm bells should start ringing - a good indication that you should pass.
Check and confirm delivery, shipping charges, and returns. Most platforms prompt sellers to list this information up front, but expensive, slow, and non-returnable shipments may well leave you very, very disappointed.
Remember: you’re about to give someone on the other side of a computer screen a load of your money. As long as you’re being reasonable with what you’re asking, there’s no reason that they shouldn’t be able to answer a few enquiries or send over a couple detailed pictures.
Shopping second-hand usually requires a little bartering before confirming exactly how much of a beating your PayPal account is going to be taking.
That said, you need to be realistic when you’re submitting an offer. While exaggerated pricing is certainly commonplace on the selling side, low-balling is just as pervasive—and, sometimes, a fast way to lose your shot at scoring the item at all.
When it comes to literally bidding on an item (à la eBay or Grailed), you should be bidding with some confidence—especially if it's a rare item with plenty of bidders in the game with you. Obviously you don't need to blow the competition out of the water from the first bid (remember, you're trying to save a little, too), but increase your bid $1 over and over is not the way to go. A surefire bet on auction sites is the "Buy It Now" price, although that of course involves forking over a little more than if you take the cheaper - and riskier - bidding route.
Whether you’re on an auction site, or a direct person-to-person platform, it doesn't hurt to message the seller personally and see if they're willing to drop the price. While the proper percentage will vary wildly based on everything from the rarity of garment to the temperament of the seller, if you’re going to counter at lower price, we’d recommend starting with an offer that’s 10 to 15 percent below the list price. Anything more, and you’re pressing your luck at best, or pissing off the owner at worst. Remember, he or she doesn’t have to sell to you if they don’t want to.
No matter how badly you want something, courtesy goes a long way.
Simply put, the keys to success are research, patience, and practice. You’ll benefit by putting in a little groundwork on the garments you want, seeking out reputable sites and sellers, and finessing the final price. Remember, you don’t need to buy the first listing you come across, and rushing the process is one of quickest ways to leave you feeling like you played yourself.
For more in-depth consumer advice, check out our Check Before You Buy series.