Discover the best places to second–hand shop online and score cute, trendy pieces on a budget by supporting the circular fashion movement.
Thrift: the quality of using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully.Oxford Languages
There was once a time where shopping second-hand wasn’t something to advertise. Today, thrifting can be a signifier of individuality, mindful purchasing, and savvy shopping expertise.
When we live in a social world so homogenized that women seem to all have the same face, thrifting can serve as an outlet to express our creative spirits and break from the norm. It can also be a validating way to lean into what makes us unique, from our body types, stand-out features, and personal stylistic choices.
With the pandemic and online age, the thrifting landscape has transformed to be more accessible than ever before. We now have so many options for repurposing our old clothes and shopping second-hand. Sometimes it’s difficult to rationalize buying something new.
In this post, you will find my favorite places to shop second-hand online for cute clothes and accessories. I’ve detailed the benefits and drawbacks of the sites, as well as the best items to shop for.
Why You Should Second-Hand Shop Online
Supports the circular fashion movement: shopping second-hand online allows clothes, shoes, and accessories to be reworn and repurchased. The focus is on retailers to make better quality pieces, or to simply focus on the retailers that do ensure their products are quality. As consumers, we work to take good care of the item with the intention of either reselling or donating.
Lessens fashion’s global impact: About 10% of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity come from fashion. With an increasing amount of attention being given to how our habits and purchasing choices impact the environment, it’s important to be mindful of the pollution we could contribute to unintentionally.
Supports small businesses: Many of these sites facilitate transactions between the seller and consumer. Some sellers thrift and resell as a full-time job. Shopping directly from people like this allows you to shop ethically while also giving money directly to these small business owners. Even if it’s not a full-time job for sellers, it always feels good to support someone trying to make a little more from a side hustle.
Great for: shopping name brand styles such as Free People, Topshop, Reformation, Banana Republic.
ThredUp was founded in 2009 as a way to give a new life to used clothes. This brand delivers a modern resale experience on their online platform, selling women’s and kids’ second-hand apparel. Over the years, ThredUp has evolved to become a powerhouse online thrift store where people can donate or send in used clothes. This is how they fight clothing waste and help the planet. They have over 35,000 brands on their site and are even able to process over 100,000 unique items every day.
ThredUp encourages shopping with intention and standing for sustainability. They understand that fashion waste is creating a crisis for our planet. Through innovative technology, they are able to process and recirculate clothing unlike any other online thrift store.
Why I love shopping ThredUp
Shopping at ThredUp is so easy and fast. You can shop high street brands like Zara and H&M to designer brands like Gucci and Reformation. All of the clothes available are sent in and evaluated by them, so you know the item will be in good condition. There are new items every day, so you can keep an eye out for a particular piece. The shipping is fast (even to Hawaii!) which makes ThredUp one of my favorite places to shop second-hand online.
Drawbacks to Shopping ThredUp
ThredUp carries a lot of clothing, and while variety is typically a good thing, it can be overwhelming. The save function can be handy for you to look over and prune your choices for your next purchase. Since ThredUp is so popular, a good item may be bought quickly, so you don’t have as much time for decision-making. You can put items in your cart on hold for four hours, so that makes shopping a little easier.
Great for: shopping luxury consignment like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Fendi, and Dior.
The Real Real began in 2011 as a scrappy start-up focused on giving pre-loved luxury pieces a new life. Today, The Real Real continues their mission by authenticating and reselling luxury consignments. People send in their luxury clothes, accessories, and jewelry and the Real Real sets a price based on the quality and popularity of the item. They also sell luxury home items like furniture, fine art, decor, and kitchen items.
Their authentication process is rigorous and brand-specific. The Real Real has a team of experts poring over each item listed on their website to ensure customers have the best experience.
The Real Real is focused on the circular fashion movement. They are large proponents of sustainability and diversity, and are transparent about the ways in which they are trying to improve. You can even see how the company stacks up in terms of structural diversity here, which is pretty rad.
Why I love shopping with The Real Real
The Real Real is one of my favorite places to shop luxury items. Their prices are really great, and you can often get an additional 20% off (depending on the item). I love perusing their fine jewelry and handbags. Their packaging is nice and comes with a dust bag for purses and other items, so you can store with peace of mind. If you’re looking for pre-owned luxury, the Real Real is easily one of the best places to second-hand shop online.
Drawbacks to The Real Real
The Real Real is one of the more popular sites for selling pre-owned luxury goods. As a result, finding a particular item can be highly competitive, and if you don’t act quickly enough you may miss your opportunity. If there’s a highly sought-after item that’s sold out most places, you may be able to find it on the Real Real with a significant mark-up.
Great for: shopping individual closets, vintage, and name brands.
In 2011, Poshmark began as a mobile platform for women and men to buy and sell clothing from their own home. This allows Poshmark users to be at the heart of commerce, which is Poshmark’s mission. Poshmark has over 70 million users in the US, Canada, and Australia and makes one sale every second. Poshmark users can list items from their own closet and set their own prices, while buyers can negotiate pricing through the app.
Once a purchase is made, the app notifies the buyer when the item ships and all shipping labels are 1-3 day expedited shipping. You can view updates through the app, leave reviews, and ask sellers questions about the item.
Why I love shopping Poshmark
Poshmark is perfect for shopping individual pieces that you may have a hard time finding in store. It’s also great that you can negotiate pricing with a seller if you feel the price is too high, and they can counter-offer. Sellers also have the option to offer bundles, which are discounts buyers get if they purchase more than one item from the same seller.
I also have use the app to sell clothes, and it’s incredibly easy and quick. It’s a great way to pad your wallet with items that are sitting in your closet and storage. It also promotes sustainability and the circular fashion movement, so you can feel good that your old clothes won’t go to a landfill.
Drawbacks of Poshmark
While this app offers a lot, there are a few drawbacks. Because anyone can be a seller and list an item, you have to be a bit more conscious about what you’re buying and from whom. For this reason, I would not purchase a second-hand luxury item from Poshmark. While not all sellers intend to scam buyers, there’s no authentication process and for me, it’s not worth the risk.
Since listings typically come from the person who purchased the item, they may be hesitant to let the piece go at a lower price. We typically believe an item is worth more than what people are willing to pay, so this can be a pain point.
Great for: shopping luxury consignment.
Founded in 2011, Luxury Garage Sale (LGS) provides a curated collection of authentic, pre-owned pieces from luxury brands. This includes brands like Chanel, David Yurman, and Hermés. LGS offers everything from designer bags to clothing, shoes, jewelry, and accessories. They provide complimentary stylists to give their expertise on special events and available items. They offer pieces for men as well, though it is a smaller selection.
Why you’ll love shopping Luxury Garage Sale
Luxury Garage Sale is a great option to shop for coveted designer pieces. Every item is sent in and authenticated by their team, so you can feel good knowing that the item you purchase is legitimate. This site is less popular than The Real Real, so it’s a great site to know if you’re in the market for certain pre-owned luxury items and want a greater selection.
Drawbacks of Luxury Garage Sale
I have never personally shopped here, but I like to peruse this site for specific items I’m looking for. Many of the poor reviews on Trustpilot consistently state that the wear and/or damage to an item was worse than described in the listing and photo. As always, it’s important to be thorough when picking up pre-owned luxury items to ensure you’re getting exactly what you want. Pore over item photos and even reach out to their complimentary stylists to make sure you’re getting what you expect from an item.
Great for: shopping luxury consignment bags and watches.
Since 2014, Rebag started selling handbags from their New York City home. Since then, the company has evolved to carry over 50 luxury designers, including Gucci, Chanel, and Hermés. Their items are white-glove inspected to ensure the highest quality and authenticity. Every item is certified, and if customers are not satisfied, Rebag offers a 7-day return for any reason.
Why you’ll love shopping Rebag
Rebag is popular with customers for its incredibly fast shipping. The quality and wear of the bags is clear in the photos and well-described, so you can feel confident that the item you purchase will be as expected. Many reviewers note that the packaging of the items is especially nice as well.
Drawbacks of Rebag
While Rebag covers a very specific niche market, it does have a few limitations. The site is more modest than some of its competitors, so it may be difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for. This can be a benefit as it’s not as widely used as The Real Real, but if you’re looking for a specific item you may not find it here.
Great for: shopping just about anything vintage, second-hand, or pre-owned.
Ebay began in 1995 as a website for auction-style sales and quickly became a dot-com bubble success. Individual sellers could post their items and allow eBay users to bid on them. Since then, eBay has evolved to offer a wider range of services on its platform such as shopping by SKU numbers (specific tracking numbers used by retailers), online event ticket trading, and online classified advertisements.
Today, you can still shop plenty of vintage, second-hand, and pre-owned listings. EBay also has a great selection of discounted and refurbished items from fashion to home decor and tech. You can search for particular items listed by individual sellers and make an offer. Most listings have a buy it now option for very interested buyers.
Why I love shopping eBay
Since eBay has been around for such a long time, their site has diversified to be able to deliver a wider range of goods and services. Searching by SKU makes items easier to find than ever, so you don’t spend time scouring listings. There is also an extensive resolution program for disputes, which have been fine tuned over decades to ensure the fairest user experience.
Drawbacks of eBay
Similarly with other websites on this list, if you’re shopping items with individual sellers you need to be wary. If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Understand what kind of realistic deal you will likely get and don’t get pulled in by someone who intends to deceive you. If you’re unsure, check out the sellers ratings to see if they’re credible. Look for lengthy histories of high reviews from people who have purchased from these sellers.
Sellers also may use tactics intended to mislead you but these methods may not go against eBay guidelines. This includes something like selling just the box of an xbox, but using photos of a complete gaming system to mislead potential buyers.
Great for: unique and colorful vintage finds, shopping influencer closets, trendy items.
Depop was founded in 2011 as a social network where readers of PIG magazine could buy items featured in the magazine. The app was soon redesigned to have a selling function, and quickly became a global marketplace. This modern mobile space is Instagram-esque in its design where users can easily scroll and shop their favorite brands and closets.
Unlike Poshmark, DePop has a trendier feel and more influencer-forward application. You can shop the closets of your favorite cool girls like Ashley of Bestdressed, while also scoring unique trendy vintage finds.
Why you’ll love shopping Depop
The simple design and use of AI to recommend items to you makes shopping on DePop feel effortless and fun. You can search your favorite influencers and brands, and even get an idea of how the item might look on your Instagram feed. It’s the perfect place to second-hand shop online for unique items picked up by savvy thrifters.
Drawbacks of Depop
Depop has a good reputation as an easy choice for fashion-forward thrifters and globally conscious consumers. This popularity does come at a price. Items on Depop have a tendency to be higher-priced, and talented thrifters may inflate prices. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but something to keep in mind while shopping.
Great for: shopping specific brands, home decor, and miscellaneous household items.
Mercari began in 2013 as a marketplace for users to buy and sell items cluttering their homes. Within a year of its release in the app store, Mercari had over one million listings on its platform. Since then, Mercari has become a go-to site for shopping and selling just about anything. Mercari is a large online and mobile marketplace with over 50 million app downloads in the US and more than 350 thousand new items listed daily.
Mercari is a straightforward online marketplace rife with all sorts of interesting finds. You can shop everything from home decor to sports gear and trending brands.
Why you’ll love shopping Mercari
Mercari is easy to search and well designed. Unlike eBay today, which can be busy and overwhelming, Mercari keeps its layout simple and only lists items from individual sellers. It is an excellent place to second-hand shop online if you’re looking for inspiration or a really great deal.
Drawbacks to Mercari
While Mercari is easy to use, there are definitely some downsides. A recent article illuminated some ongoing issues with the e-commerce site. Many users expressed frustration with products being misrepresented in listings, which is a common grievance when almost anyone can list an item. Beyond that, when buyers voiced their concerns Mercari is slow to respond (if at all). This leaves issues to be sorted between the buyer and seller, which can be a challenge if the seller avoids concerns and complaints.
Sheer Sweatshirt: American Apparel (similar, similar) | Linen Dress: Forever 21 (similar, similar) | Belt: Mahina (similar) | Necklace: Brinker and Eliza | Sunnies: Dollger | Bag: Horse & Tiger (similar, similar) | Sandals: Urban Outfitters (similar)