It’s hardly breaking news, but the fashion industry isn’t exactly environmentally friendly. Clothing production spews toxic gasses into the atmosphere and discarded clothes continue to pile up in landfill. But what if we told you there’s a way you can update your wardrobe without harming the planet?
Shopping vintage creates a closed circuit, keeping the same garments in circulation. You can buy ‘new clothes’ without actually buying new clothes. It’s better for the environment and it‘s also a great way to find rare and unusual pieces to cultivate your own personal style.
We think vintage is great; it could even be the future of shopping. That’s why we’ve rounded up a few of our favourite places to pick up vintage clothing online, along with the reasons why each one is worth knowing about.
What Is Vintage?
So, what makes vintage different from second hand? In some cases, nothing. The word ‘vintage’ is simply an umbrella term for clothing from a different era. Any given vintage piece may have had one owner, several owners or could even, in rare cases, be unworn. So, not all second-hand clothing is vintage, but all vintage clothing is second- (or third-, or fourth-, or fifth-… ) hand.
There are some very loose rules about what is considered vintage. In general, anything between 20-100 years could comfortably have the label applied to it. The main thing is that the garment reflects the time period it’s from.
The concept originated as a result of the textile shortage following World War One and has remained ever since. It’s economical, environmentally friendly and can be a great way to pick up high-end designer pieces at low prices.
What About Deadstock?
Deadstock is a word you might have come across when shopping for vintage clothing. It’s used to refer to garments that were put into storage when new and then resold at a later date. Depending on the garment, deadstock clothing can be quite expensive. In the world of sneakers and streetwear, it’s not unusual for deadstock items to sell for well over retail value.
The Best Places To Buy Vintage Clothing Online
The garments available at Beyond Retro might be old, but they’re always on trend. The retailer’s approach to vintage is all about keeping an eye on runways and sourcing the vintage clothes that fit the current fashion climate. Everything sold here is sourced from charities and textile recyclers and the team of buyers and pickers scour literal mountains of clothing to find the best pieces.
It may have started out as a single retail space in an old London warehouse, but Beyond Retro is now a slick, international operation with an e-commerce site to rival any other vintage shop out there.
ASOS is a key offender when it comes to fast, throwaway fashion – churning out cheap, trend-led clothing that’s only built to survive a season. However, ASOS Marketplace is quite the opposite: an online platform where boutiques and individual sellers can offer their goods and a great place for finding pre-loved vintage bargains.
It launched in 2010 and has gone from having just 20 retailers originally to boasting a roster of almost 1,000. The service also curates regular edits, which can make it easier to find what you’re looking for.
Urban Outfitters stocks plenty of new stuff, but it’s actually been curating vintage collections since 1982 as well. The retailer’s vintage offering is called Urban Renewal. It offers a mix of one-of-a-kind vintage originals, salvaged stock and remade garments upcycled from damaged vintage goods.
Here you’ll find all the standard vintage fare, like Levi’s jeans, band tees, retro sports kits and baggy sweatshirts. There’s also plenty of rare and unique pieces that come and go every day.
Rokit started life as a stall at London’s Camden Market in 1986 and has since grown into one of the most respected names in vintage clothing. The retailer now has an international following thanks to its online presence and operates out of the largest vintage warehouse in the UK.
The skilled workers sift through thousands of garments to pick stock for the store. In order to waste as little as possible, some pieces are repaired and even upcycled into customised designs.
Thrifted is one of the UK’s largest online vintage shops and has an ever-changing selection of carefully curated vintage pieces, ranging from retro sportswear to high-end designer goods. You can expect to find clothing from brands such as Burberry, Stone Island, Armani and Fendi, as well as modestly priced throwback items from the likes of Nike, Adidas, The North Face, Carhartt and loads more.
With over 100 carefully selected pre-worn pieces added every day, True Vintage is Europe’s biggest online destination for vintage clothing. The website was born out of frustration with the poor quality of high-street fashion and the desire to wear garments that are unique and stand out from the crowd.
True Vintage specialises in designer goods and you can expect to find one-of-a-kind pieces from the likes of Supreme, Balenciaga, Dior, Moncler, Tommy Hilfiger and lots, lots more.
Minneapolis-born Ragstock is a true veteran of the vintage scene. Founded in the 1950s, it became a hub for thrifty shoppers looking for unique, unusual and exotic garments at affordable prices and has since expanded to several cities across the USA as well as online. There’s an ever-changing selection of vintage pieces that runs the gamut from band tees to cowboy boots, all carefully handpicked by Ragstock’s small but highly experienced buying team, who are always on the lookout for the latest trends.
Rusty Zipper’s no-frills website might not look like much, but it was a trailblazer when it first launched. What you are looking at is the internet’s first ever online vintage shop; the forerunner to all the big industry names we’re familiar with today.
With a team of just eight people, Rusty Zipper is a true independent with a knack for sniffing out the best vintage garments from the 1940s, ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. It’s also big on being green, with carbon-offset shipping, clean energy, and even a wilderness area at its Oregon HQ with a resident bear.
Donn Clothing offers a well curated selection of vintage goodies with particular emphasis on pieces from the 1990s. It’s an eclectic mix of retro sportswear, outdoorsy staples and high-end designer names, and there are always plenty of gems to be found thanks to regular stock updates.
Somewhere between eBay and Instagram this mobile-based marketplace has become a hugely popular means – particularly among teenagers – of buying and selling pre-owned clothing. Simply type a keyword or two into the bar, hit search, and your smartphone screen will be filled with an Insta-esque grid, showing related garments from various sellers. Click the photo and you’ll be taken to the listing where you can either message with an offer or pay a fixed buy-it-now price.
The app is great for sourcing vintage clothing, ranging from rare items to retro staples. It can even be used as a platform to set up online stores. Plus, if you get in the habit of liking items, the app will paint a digital image of your personal style and recommend listings to you based on what it thinks you’ll be into.