What to look for when buying second-hand clothing

What to look for when buying second-hand clothing

As the cost of living continues to climb and many people shift towards a more sustainable lifestyle, second-hand clothing is rising in popularity.

The 2022 Fashion Resale in Australia Report revealed 73 per cent of people had purchased an item of pre-loved clothing in the past 12 months, making Australia one of the leading nations in the resale space.

The report also found 80 per cent of people estimate they wear less than 60 per cent of their wardrobe, and 95 per cent of people donate their unwanted clothes to op shops or other social enterprises.

But it’s not all one and the same when it comes to buying pre-loved clothing. Gone are the days when your only opportunity was to hit up the local op shops. There is Facebook Marketplace, Depop, eBay, buy/swap/sell groups on social media, and numerous online sites, such as Reluv Clothing, that allow you to sell and buy quality second-hand clothing and accessories.

A common barrier for people who are interested in buying second-hand clothes is that it can be time consuming to look for a quality bargain.

At Reluv Clothing, we spend hours sorting through clothes making sure only those of the best quality and condition make it into your shopping carts.

Here are some of the things we look for when deciding which second-hand clothes to keep and some tips to streamline your shopping experience. Hopefully this helps you on your bargain hunt!

1. Material composition

Not all materials are created equal when it comes to clothing.

Synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon are often cheaper, but they’re not the best option for people with sensitive skin or those looking for breathability.

Cotton and linen are popular natural fibres that are more sustainable and many people find these fabrics are more comfortable. Depending on the garment, wool and silk are other luxurious, high-quality fabrics that are worth looking out for.

2. Fabric condition

When you buy brand new, you expect your clothes to not have any imperfections.

When buying pre-loved, there can be a risk of clothes not being in pristine condition (although you’d be surprised how many clothes we get that are brand new with tags!)

We grade our clothing based on condition. So you can choose ‘new with tags’, ‘like new’ (hardly worn with no signs of wear) or ‘gently used’ when browsing items in our collection.

If you are looking at pre-loved clothes in person, some things to look out for are stains, moth holes, loose stitching, stretched elastic, fraying, rips and tears, and pilling.

3. Brand

Keep your eyes peeled for high quality brands!

Some popular ones that we sell at Reluv Clothing include Adidas, Lululemon, 2XU, Zimmermann, Country Road, Sussan, Witchery, Sportsgirl, ASOS, Banana Republic, Portmans, Calvin Klein, Cue, Desigual, Dejcuba, French Connection, Guess, Hong and Mei, Jacqui E, Lorna Jane, Michael Kors, Ojay and Review.

Of course, if you have your own favourite brands that you love, look out for them!

4. Know your measurements

Before you go on your shopping spree, spend a few moments taking your measurements, especially your bust, waist and hips. This will give you a good starting point. If you are after a specific garment, such as a jumper, take the measurements of a great fitting one you already own.

Here’s where it can get a bit tricky! Pre-loved clothes have typically been worn and washed. This means that the fabric may have relaxed due to wear or have shrunk slightly from washing. The measurements of the individual products need to be compared to your own measurements to ensure a good fit.

If you’re hunting for jeans, the inside leg measurement will give you an idea of how long the jeans are, the rise will indicate how far up they sit on your hips, and the thigh measurements indicate how tight they’ll be around your thighs.

Fabric composition will also inform whether the item has some stretch. Don’t just go by the size as this is not always the most reliable measure. Many brands size their garments differently so a 12 in one brand may not be the same as a 12 in another brand.

5. Don’t be afraid to try something different

One of the great things about shopping second-hand is the variety of clothes and styles available. From vintage finds to on-trend bargains, you are spoilt for choice!

If there is a new style you are considering, buying it cheaper second-hand is the perfect way to try it out. Look for online shops where you have the option to return an item if it’s not quite right.

The best thing you can do is have an open mind when shopping for second-hand clothes and be open to trying something different. You never know what gems are waiting to be uncovered.

Karen Freidin

This article was written by Karen Freidin.

Karen is the founder of Reluv Clothing, one of Australia’s largest online retailers of pre-loved clothing and accessories.

Learn more about Reluv on their website.