Published 9 October 2022 ● Last Updated on 14 November 2022
This article comes from the desk of Sarah Garner, the founder of Retykle. She set it up in 2016 after having her first child. She saw first-hand how quickly kids grow out of their clothes leaving behind closets bursting with smaller sizes, most of the items barely worn. She wanted to create a sustainable fashion loop and be on the side of fashion that was part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
Having worked for over 10 years in senior management roles for key luxury fashion companies including Shanghai Tang (Richemont), Lane Crawford, Holt Renfrew and LVMH, Sarah diverted her experience towards building a fashion company that positively impacts the environment, parents lives and the community.
Over the past five years, we have seen a huge shift in how we perceive secondhand clothing. Once considered old and used, preloved has taken retail by storm as old stigmas and superstitions have faded away. With recent advancements in technology it has never been easier to find and buy online, great quality, preloved designer pieces. As consumers grow more conscious, secondhand shopping becomes the more sustainable option when looking to add to their wardrobes. It also provides one access to hundreds of thousands of unique items making it easy to find and create one’s own unique style.
Fast fashion is often tempting due to its price point and convenience. When purchasing new items consumers must think about cost per wear rather than the retail price. For example, if you buy a t-shirt from a fast fashion brand that costs $10 but you are only able to wear it 5 times before it starts to fall apart then your cost per wear is $2. However if you buy a t-shirt from a premium brand that costs $50 and you are able to wear it at least thirty times (more on our x30 rule later) then cost per wear is at most $1.6. Furthermore you are more likely to be able to resell that t-shirt later on recouping some of your initial cost. There is a higher cost to cheap clothing when you tally up the environmental damage and the lack of options or rewards at the end of its use.
If you haven’t tried shopping secondhand before, we’ve rounded up some of our top tips to help you get started. Once you start, you’ll get hooked!
1. Do a closet clear-out and identify gaps in your wardrobe
The best place to start is with your own wardrobe. Go through each piece and be honest with yourself. Is it an item you truly love or something that has just been taking up space? Once you have streamlined your wardrobe, identify gaps that might need addressing. You may realise you have a penchant for collecting blue striped shirts but don’t have enough options to match them with. Write down a list of items you truly need and this will form the basis of any start to shopping preloved online.
2. Build a capsule wardrobe
With tip #1 in mind, it is important to build a capsule wardrobe to maximise the usage of every piece in it. Your clothes should work hard for you and not the other way round. Start with making sure you have great staples – pieces that are great for layering and will go with almost anything. When shopping online, buy classic versatile pieces that reflect your style. You can then weave in some more colourful patterns or styles as well as warmer or cooler items depending on the season.
3. Know your style and body shape
Don’t get carried away! There can be endless choices for shopping secondhand so it can be tempting to buy into a new style or trend but if you find yourself always returning a type of clothing, do make a note that it is not a style that works for you. Always remember your measurements as sizes vary immensely between and even within brands, so check and ensure the platform you are buying preloved clothes from offers hassle free returns. As such, don’t be afraid to shop different sizes, if something is too large you can always take it to a tailor to be altered (or give basic repairing a shot yourself).
4.Check websites regularly
Most resale platforms post new items daily or have specific days or times they upload new products. Check when that is for your favourite platforms and be ready to browse. The most coveted items usually sell very quickly so keep that list in mind of items you really need ensuring you are ready to click buy when the time comes.
5. Take your time
That said, searching for treasures online can be an art form and can take time. Use the wish list feature to tag items you like and keep coming back to them. If it is something you keep thinking about then it is a sign it is something you truly love. Also most adult wear resale sites will start discounting items over time to encourage sales so you may be able to pick something up at a price lower than its original listing price.
6. Use filters and curated edits to your advantage and/or be specific with your search terms
Some resale sites have hundreds of thousands of items listed so it can take a long time to search through them. Try to be as specific as possible and either narrow down your view list by either using filters or the search bar. Take note of any new in season products you love as you may well be able to find it at a discount on a resale site six months later. You can usually save searches or be notified when a particular item becomes available – use these to your advantage.
7. Thirty times rule[ #30wears]
Before purchasing a new item, think in your head if it is something you will wear at least thirty times. This helps to ensure it is not an emotionally driven impulse purchase but something that will stand the test of time in your wardrobe. Another good rule to apply is to make sure the item can be worn with at least three other items in your closet. This helps to make sure you are adding another versatile piece into your capsule wardrobe and avoiding chasing trends.
8. Plan ahead
Think about any events or occasions you have coming up and plan your outfits accordingly. It is always best to shop from your own wardrobe first but since secondhand platforms only sell unique pieces, you need to bag those coveted treasures as and when you find them.
9. Don’t be afraid to to buy off season
Resale platforms do not follow seasons as they receive different types of clothing all year round. Don’t hesitate to buy off season as you may well scoop up your new winter coat in the middle of summer. Take advantage of such a great finds and store them away until the season comes.
10. Double check condition and authenticity
When you are shopping online use the zoom function to look at the item up close. Check the following indicators if possible – buttons, zips, seams, fabric quality, lining, brand and care labels – to check for condition and authenticity. Look at the different angles of the product and check the condition descriptions to make sure they are aligned with what you are seeing. Only use a trusted platform which guarantees condition and authenticity so you can shop with confidence.
11. Don’t just stick to clothing
There are so many great secondhand platforms now that you shouldn’t just stop at your own clothing.
Kidswear – kids grow so fast there is an unavoidable rotation of their wardrobes. Use a trusted platform like Retykle (www.retykle.com and www.retykle.sg) that has a huge selection of great quality, designer clothes, gear and toys at significant discounts.
Furniture – for affordable furniture don’t just default to IKEA. You can pick up great pieces of furniture that have originated from all over the world as well as local treasures at your nearby secondhand furniture store. Simply look online for your nearest secondhand shop. Alternatively you can try Carousell,Facebook Marketplace or use this guide to buying preloved furniture by Secondsguru. Do make sure you inspect the item in person first before agreeing to any sale.
Electronics – Refurbished electronics platforms are becoming increasingly common. With new models launched every year there is a high rotation of devices as consumers try to keep up with the latest technology. That means it is easy to find electronics in great condition that may only be 1-2 years old. Again it is important to use a trusted platform, while also paying attention to user ratings. In Singapore, you can try https://reebelo.sg/ and Carousell; and in Hong Kong https://ola.tech/en/.