Your guide to buying and selling second-hand - N26

7 min read

Why buy second-hand?

Buying “second-hand” means purchasing something that’s previously been used—from new-to-you appliances to stellar vintage finds. In recent years, the boom in the second-hand market combined with growing concern for the environment have seen second-hand purchases skyrocket. In 2018, the French second-hand clothing market was worth 1 billion euros, according to the French Fashion Institute (IFM). 

What are the advantages of buying second-hand?

If you’re still reluctant to buy second-hand clothes or other used items, here are 3 good reasons to take the plunge:

  1. Help save the planet. The textile industry emits around 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 per year, or 2% of greenhouse gas emissions. Did you know that clothing consumption has increased by 60% compared to fifteen years ago? Not only does buying new clothes contribute to pollution, it also supports an industry with poor working conditions. By moving their factories to developing countries, major fashion brands have created what’s known as fast fashion—cheap, poor-quality clothing made of non-sustainable fabrics that relies on low-paid labor.

  2. Save money. As well as protecting the planet, buying second-hand clothes and furniture can help save you money. When you buy second-hand and bring a used object back to life, you usually wind up spending less than you would on a brand new version.

  3. Find unique items. At a time when big brands have standardized consumer goods, buying second-hand is also a way to express your style and find unique items. What could be more satisfying than finding a jacket or piece of furniture with a one-of-a-kind design?

What are the disadvantages of buying second-hand?

While second-hand shopping has undeniable advantages, it also has a few negative points that should be taken into account before you hit the resale shops. Here are some of the main disadvantages of buying second-hand:

  • Vintage pieces won’t always match your taste. Second-hand clothes and furniture don’t always match what we’re looking for. When buying used clothing, you might need to be flexible rather than holding out for the exact piece you were hoping to find.

  • Second-hand items may have a shorter lifespan. When you buy a second-hand product, it might not last as long as a new purchase. This is why it’s important to choose a quality brand, and look for items with as little damage as possible.

  • Your size won’t always be available. Unlike conventional stores, thrift and vintage stores often have a limited choice of sizes. In fact, it’s pretty rare to find the same item available in multiple sizes, so you’ll have to make do with what’s available.

  • Buying second-hand takes time. Finding a rare gem can mean spending a lot of time at flea markets and second-hand stores. If you're in a hurry, second-hand shopping might not be the best choice.

Now you know the pros and cons of second-hand shopping, find out how to tidy up your closet and earn some cash at the same time by selling your old clothes.

Tips for selling second-hand clothes

Have you done some spring cleaning and want to sell the clothes you no longer wear? Or would you like to supplement your income by getting rid of some old items? If you’re new to the world of selling second-hand, read on for all the tips you need to sell your second-hand clothes.

How to sell second-hand clothes online

There are essentially two ways to sell second-hand clothes online. First, you can head to a website that sells your clothes for you, like Percentil and Once Again. Or, you can sell your second-hand clothes yourself on sites like Vinted, Leboncoin, Ebay, Vide-Dressing, or even Vestiaire Collective. If you choose this second option, here are our tips to maximize your chances of selling at a great price:

  • Post photos of the clothes being worn. Photograph the items from different angles on an actual body. The more you show potential buyers how the clothes look while being worn, the more likely they are to purchase them. Consider optimizing the brightness and sharpness of the photo to make your listing more attractive. What’s more, taking a picture of the label, especially for well known brands, also adds a sense of trust in the item you’re selling.

  • Offer as many payment methods as possible, making it easy for people to purchase.

  • Try to minimize shipping costs. This is especially important if you’re selling inexpensive clothes to make sure the cost of shipping isn’t greater than the purchase amount.

  • Describe your item in as much detail as possible. From material to condition, to size and color, buyers need to get an accurate picture of the item they’re buying. If it’s damaged, be transparent about this in the description to avoid any disputes later on.

  • Fill out your bio. This gives buyers confidence. If you’re posting clothes that have been worn, remember to include your size to give buyers a sense of scale.

  • Ask for reviews to build trust. Reviews are very important when it comes to selling clothes online, especially because of the risk of scams—so any positive feedback will help your sales. 

For second-hand designer clothes, be sure to include the new purchase price of the item you’re selling, especially if you’re offering a significant discount.

How to sell second-hand clothes in stores

If you live in a city and don't have time to sell your second-hand clothes yourself, second-hand stores are also a great resource. Start by making a list of stores that buy used clothes, then ask what their resale policy is. Usually they’ll take the clothes you’re getting rid of and pay you the profit (if your items sell), and then take a commission on the sale.

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Buying second-hand—Where to find vintage clothes and vintage furniture 

What’s the best place to find vintage furniture?

Beyond the famous flea markets, vintage stores, and garage sales (Pro tip: find sales near you at vide-greniers.org), you can also find second-hand furniture online. Popular sites includeSelency, Renée Recycle, Desuet, or Luckyfind. Just remember—if you’re shopping online, be careful. To shop online safely, we recommend reading our guide about online fraud.

If you want to find an authentic period piece, we recommend doing some research on the item you’re looking for beforehand and finding out average market prices. This will keep you from buying knock-offs and will help you negotiate for a better price. If you’re on a tight budget, we recommend Emmaüs stores. You have to spend some time looking, but there are treasures to be found. 

Where to buy vintage clothes

Are you a fan of vintage fashion? Why not take a little time out to scour some thrift stores that specialize in stylish vintage clothing, and don’t be afraid to take your time finding that one piece that will add a little je ne sais quoi to your style! And if you’re not sure which thrift stores are available in your city, check out vintage influencer Clara Victorya’s tour of vintage stores in French cities.

Prefer online shopping? These days, there are endless online vintage stores to choose from. In addition the most famous sites like L’Imparfaite, Asos Market Place, and Etsy, plenty of others have appeared in recent years. And there’s truly something for everyone—Vintage Paris for second-hand designer clothing, Peekabo for a decidedly British style, 97th Vintage for sportswear enthusiasts, and Crush On for a more general, assorted vintage selection.

And if you’re just looking to buy second-hand clothes, visit second-hand clothing sites like Vinted, Seconde main by Kiabi, Zalando Seconde Main, and even Rebelle—the second-hand store for the brand Bash. More and more brands are jumping on the second-hand bandwagon and opening their own second-hand clothing lines, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for new sites!

You might also like our rundown of the best places to shop online.

Love all things second-hand? Manage your spending with N26 

Do you love buying and selling second hand items? With N26, know when cash is going in or coming out of your account at all times, thanks to instant push notifications on every transaction. Use N26 Spaces to create a dedicated sub-account for your second-hand sales—or for your vintage shopping budget. Consult your monthly spending at a glance with N26 Statistics, so you can better optimize your budget for the future. Visit our comparison page to check out even more features and find the plan that’s right for you today.

By N26

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