Cult brands and classics: how to get the best value from reselling clothes

Depop or Vestiaire? Branded pieces or classics? What about trends? Experts share their advice on getting into the resale market

A few months ago, on a weekend away by the sea, a friend and I stumbled upon one of those rare, unspoiled vintage stores. The kind with mannequins wearing hats, and racks squished full of Catherine Walker blazers, Burberry trench coats and one particularly fabulous pair of gold Collette Dinnigan trousers.

The cardigan-clad owner of the store overheard our chat about the clothes and came out from behind the counter to talk us through her favourite pieces. She was particularly proud that Catherine Walker was one of Diana, Princess of Wales’ favourite designers.

The secondhand clothing market is experiencing a rapid rise. It is expected to grow 16 times faster than the retail industry by 2026, which is exceptionally good news for the planet. But the experience in the store and the mention of the original influencer – Diana – left me wondering: what does it take for a garment or accessory to retain its value on the resale market?

This is the first of a two-part series on the secondhand market. Next week will include expert advice on how to sell your vintage or pre-loved items.

Quality over quantity

It’s a maxim that can seem quaint in the era of fast-fashion hauls but in the world of resale, quality is the biggest determining factor in an item retaining its value.

A spokesperson for the luxury resale platform Vestiaire Collective says, “Our community is interested in investing and buying quality pieces that last the test of time”.

This perspective extends to the broader market too. Trends and category manager of the resale platform Depop, Agustina Panzoni, says, “Well-made items are always a good bet for maintaining their value on the resale market over cheaply made fast-fashion items which are inherently less durable”.

The Global Head of Partnerships and General Manager ANZ of AirRobe, Beth Glancey, says that, generally, “brands with low price points (think $50 and under) tend not to sell quickly. The value of these items in the secondhand market are perceived to be less – and therefore demand is lower”.

Play hard to get

Another factor that contributes to an item’s resale popularity is how hard it is to find and buy. Pieces that are scarce, that were made in limited runs, or from brands that rarely go on sale, are in higher demand.

An Alexander McQueen piece – like this number from his AW 2009 show – will always retain its value, if you’re lucky enough to own one.
An Alexander McQueen piece – like this number from his AW 2009 show – will always retain its value, if you’re lucky enough to own one. Photograph: Dominique Charriau/WireImage

According to Vestiaire, items from rare vintage collections made by old, French luxury houses like Dior and YSL, or the late British designer, Alexander McQueen, are “a great investment”.

This extends to the other end of the scale: more trend-focused, newer labels with loyal followings also garner people’s attention online. Panzoni says, “Cult brands, one-offs or rare items, brand collaborations like Ganni x Juicy Couture are set to increase in value on the resale market.”

On repeat

Other items that do well are staple wardrobe or high-rotation pieces like classic-cut denim and trench coats. “These items are often worth paying a little extra for as you’ll wear them on repeat, and you need quality that will last. These items are far more likely to retain their value on a resale platform,” says Panzoni.

This is also true for more functional items like puffer jackets and raincoats. Panzoni says, “Since August, we’ve seen a 200% spike in searches for the North Face puffer, a classic style that continues to be popular on Depop year on year, especially as the seasons turn and the weather begins to get colder”. Other in-demand items are trainers, sneakers and cargo pants.

How to spot a trend

There is also an art to reselling that involves keeping an eye on social media and the news to capitalise on moments in the zeitgeist. Vestiaire says there is a strong correlation between pop culture and consumers’ shopping habits. “For example, with the last premiere of The Crown’s new season we saw a demand on the app for the Lady Dior bag.”

The Dior Saddle: a classic style with renewed interest spiked by TV series And Just Like That.
The Dior Saddle: a classic style with renewed interest spiked by TV series And Just Like That. Photograph: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Another recent cultural influence, Vestiaire says, was TV series And Just Like That – which increased the demand of “vintage pieces to the market such as the Dior Saddle [and] Fendi Baguette”.

But Panzoni says it’s important to discern between trends and micro-trends, and to keep all of the earlier advice about quality and timeless pieces in mind, if you don’t want to lose money. “It’s easy to get caught up in micro-trends, especially with celebrity and influencer social-media culture, but incorporating such items into your wardrobe can be costly, both to your pocket and the environment.”


Lucianne Tonti

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
No snags, no spills, no sweating: how to wear vintage clothes without ruining them
With the right reinforcements and under the right circumstances, you can wear an antique garment without wearing it out

Lucianne Tonti

05, Sep, 2022 @5:30 PM

Article image
How to quit fast fashion: ‘Sometimes we don’t need retail therapy, we need actual therapy’
From browsing Pinterest instead of retail sites to delaying gratification, four people who’ve forsworn fast fashion share their anti-shopping habits

Lucianne Tonti

28, Nov, 2022 @2:00 PM

Article image
Too precious to put on? How to decide whether to wear an antique garment
While the pleasure in owning clothes is usually wearing them, conservators warn that with some vintage and heirloom pieces, using them may mean losing them

Lucianne Tonti

29, Aug, 2022 @5:30 PM

Article image
Good as new: how to resell clothes successfully and responsibly
At its best, preloved fashion can help tackle the problem of overconsumption. But clothes that are resold need to be cared for and listed properly

Lucianne Tonti

03, Oct, 2022 @4:30 PM

Article image
Try before you buy: how to spot well-made clothes in the change room
From feeling the lining to moving around in the garment, here’s how to check the quality of clothes when trying them on

Lucianne Tonti

02, May, 2022 @5:30 PM

Article image
Easy, feel-good and flexible: fashion minimalists on living with fewer clothes
Cutting down leads to simpler mornings, loving what you wear and learning shopping cannot cure boredom, according to those who’ve tried it

Lucianne Tonti

03, Jan, 2023 @12:54 AM

Article image
‘I might wear it in 10 years’ time’: four clothes-keepers on why they hold on to old garments
With the average Australian sending 10kg of clothes to landfill each year, fashion enthusiasts share their reasons for keeping – and cherishing – pre-loved items

Lucianne Tonti

06, Feb, 2023 @2:00 PM

Article image
How to buy a sustainable raincoat: ‘Get the garment that’s right for your needs’
Most of us are only outside for short periods. Instead of reaching for performance synthetics, say experts, cotton or wool might do the trick

Lucianne Tonti

24, Oct, 2022 @3:00 PM

Article image
Setting store: how to keep woollen coats and puffer jackets packed away safely
From fighting off moths to keeping mildew at bay, packing winter coats away the right way will ensure they come out good as new next season

Lucianne Tonti

15, Nov, 2021 @4:30 PM

Article image
The full brief: how to buy men’s underwear that will last the distance
Why stretchy fabrics are essential, the benefits of seam-free undies, and what to wear to the gym

Lucianne Tonti

17, Oct, 2022 @3:00 PM