Are you really wearing all those clothes sitting in your closet? Instead of tossing them out, sell your old clothes online and make some money in the process!
Why Should You Sell Your Old Clothes?
So why should you sell your old clothes? Aside from the obvious reason – a way to make some money – selling, instead of throwing away unwanted clothes, shoes, and accessories, is also a way to stay sustainable.
Our clothing purchases, and their subsequent disposal, have a significant environmental impact, with most unwanted clothing ending up in a landfill or being incinerated. According to the EPA, 16 million tons of textiles were thrown away in 2015, but only 15% ended up recycled. In fact, a recent report concludes that the apparel industry’s carbon impact is greater than the airline industry’s!
There are a number of ways to dispose of unwanted clothing in a sustainable way — by donating, recycling, or even upcycling them — but you can also sell your old clothes, make some money, and help reduce waste.
Here are my seven tips for making sure your threads are as sale-worthy as possible.
Tips for How to Sell Your Old Clothes
Be Honest With Yourself
Cast a critical eye on the clothing or accessories you intend to sell. Is it in good condition? Is it in style? If that shirt is frayed or looks oh-so-1990s, don’t waste your time getting it photographed and prepped for sale when the likelihood is slim that it’ll actually sell. Instead, donate or recycle unwanted clothing.
Make Your Clothes (and Other Items) Look Their Best
Whether you’re taking photos of the items you’d like to sell, or prepping them for a resale representative to review in your home, make sure your items are clean, pressed, and unscuffed.
I learned the hard way when a resale rep rejected my open-toe designer sandals because the toe-area was worn. She explained that if I’d simply had them cleaned they’d have been accepted. Of course, it now makes sense: would you want to buy shoes that look dirty and worn?
Before you start snapping photos, it may be worth it to pay for a professional clean or repair, particularly for luxury items. I recently had a designer bag cleaned of scratches before selling on consignment and received far more — even after the cleaning expense — than I would have if I’d left it scuffed.
Provide Multiple, Clear, Photos
The more photos, the better. Try these photo-taking tips to make your items as appealing as possible:
- Before you start: Read the photo-taking instructions for each site!
- Use bright, natural light.
- Place items against a plain, light background.
- I like to use portrait mode to make the item pop and allow potential buyers to view details, but try different modes to see what works best for you.
- Take a few close-up shots to show labels, details, and any imperfections.
- Take multiple photos from different angles. Again, read the resale site’s instructions for specifics on what they require.
To ensure a successful sale, write a clear and thorough description. I find it helpful to search for similar items on the intended resale site and copy their writing style for descriptions.
Descriptive points to include:
- Identification and description of any imperfections.
- Condition and how often it was worn: Never, seldom, etc.
- Original price, if available.
Think seasonally and plan your sales with the time of year in mind: those summer sandals you want to sell probably won’t be very popular if you list them in January! Also, sites favor some brands over others, so once you have all your photos taken, try submitting your items on multiple sites to see which ones will accept them, or offer a more competitive price.
For sites that allow you to set your own price, it can be tempting to set as high as possible. Resist the temptation and focus on the end-goal: selling your pre-loved threads!
A rule of thumb is to set your price at 70% of the original price. Of course, this will vary by the desirability of the item and its condition. Some sites will give price recommendations, but you can also do your own research on your intended resale site and elsewhere to check for comparable sales and prices.
The bottom line: Be realistic. If you’re inflating the price simply to make a profit, you may be wasting your time listing this particular item, only to have it languish on the resale site with no buyers.
Fees and Other Costs
Make sure you read the resale site’s fine print on fees. Most sites, for example, will pay for shipping, but not all do, so check with your intended site. All these seemingly small fees can add up and eat your profits. If it’s too costly to list your item with a particular reseller, it may be worth it to try your luck selling on a social media platform, or simply donating the item.
Be Honest With Your Buyers
Don’t try to hide imperfections or inflate the quality of the item you’re selling. And if you’re wondering whether to include details about a clothing defect, err on the side of being more inclusive. Your reputation as an honest seller is critical and will ultimately yield you more positive sales.
Now that you know what to do, get out there and sell your old clothes! Wondering where to go? Check out my suggestions for online resale sites and consigners. While you’re visiting these sites, do some shopping yourself. You might find some old clothing that’s “new” for you – a great way to reduce unnecessary waste and stay sustainable!