Buying second hand clothing

Fashions come and go very quickly, which may leave people with clothing that they no longer want or need. It may also dissuade some from not spending large amounts on clothing that may be out of style by next season.

Moneybags journalist Jessica Anne Wood looks at the popularity of buying second hand clothing, as well as the increase in the number of people making use of online shopping.

Buying second hand fashion

Stephen Ballot, country manager for OLX South Africa, says that there is a growing trend of people purchasing second hand clothing and fashion items. “People are recognising that items such as leather jackets, wedding dresses and matric ball gowns can be attained for a fraction of the price [if it’s] second hand and importantly that second hand does not mean less quality. The cost of buying new items is increasing year-on-year with the rand exchange rate, thus many items are now out of most people’s reach if it’s new.”

Buying second hand items online is increasing. “For reasons such as store overheads, better deals can be found online than going to a vintage shop, consumers can purchase more items second-hand for what they could new etc.,” says Ballot.

For example, there is a little black dress for sale on Gumtree for R200, while Woolworths has a black bodycon dress on its website selling for R425. However, it is important to note that prices will vary according to style and brand, both in stores and when buying second hand.

Furthermore, tough economic times have led to people trying to save money where they can. As a result people are turning to buying second hand or ‘vintage’ clothing.

“I think that the economy is having an impact on several families and people are trying to save where they can, such as buying great quality clothing for less than they otherwise would. Also second hand is quite fashionable in certain vintage circles,” reveals Ballot.

However, it is important to note that while some may categorise certain second hand items as ‘vintage’, there are places that sell vintage clothing that have the price tag to go with the title. The cost will also depend on the type of item, the age and where you are purchasing it.

Ballot stresses that when buying second hand clothing (or any item) you should not rely purely on the online platform. It’s always a good idea to meet the person to see the clothes and trade in cash.

Second clothing websites

In addition to websites such as OLX and Gumtree, there are websites that specialise in selling second hand (or pre-owned) clothing. For example, there is the locally based 2ndTake. However, there are also international sites which offer delivery to South Africa.

For those wanting to buy second hand designer goods there is TheRealReal. This website sells an array of designer products, including items from luxury brands such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton. All items are checked before sale to ensure that they are in fact original.

“Authenticity is the cornerstone of TheRealReal. We staff in-house professionals including gemologists, horologists, art appraisers and apparel experts that ensure every item sold is 100% authentic and in beautiful condition.

“All items are put through a multi-point, brand-specific authentication process by a team of luxury experts headed by our director of authentication and brand compliance. We inspect all goods for appropriate brand markings, date codes, serial tags and hologram stickers. Everything passes through our strict authenticity tests before it is curated into daily sales. Our fine jewellery and watches are authenticated and appraised by our gemologists and horologists and each piece comes with a valuation certificate,” explains the website.

Why choose online shopping?

Claude Hanan, co-founder of, an online shopping website, notes that there are many reasons why consumers choose to do their shopping online. “Speed, convenience, price and time. It’s intimidating at first but once you try it, it becomes indispensable. I struggle to shop offline nowadays and the international trend supports this.”

Carla Zara, owner of, adds: “Most online companies offer free delivery and returns.  In today’s era we are more in demand with work, kids [and so on,] and have less time.  People shop online during lunch time, on their phone on the way home from work. They see an item and buy it. It gets delivered straight to their homes, they try it on and if they change their mind they can send it back without stepping out the house to do so and avoid standing in a long return/exchange queue. Also there are more comparative shopping sites so people can see where the best deal is and grab it while the deal is hot without walking and driving to every shop and checking the price.”

Online shopping can also help to reduce stress. “You have google (the best and most honest store assistant known to mankind) in the tab next-door and your choice is just going to be far wider. Online stores have unlimited shelf space.  A store that’s well fitted out with well trained staff can be enjoyable, but they’re few and far between, and the convenience of online is impossible to beat,” says Hanan.

Tips for shoppers

Wendy Tlou of, offers a number of tips for consumers who want to shop online with minimal fuss:

  • When shopping online it is important to know your size and body shape.
  • Look for items that are statement pieces and that can easily work with what you already have in your wardrobe.
  • Be sensible when shopping, and know what you can afford, but never compromise on quality.
  • Look at reviews of the place you are planning to buy from. “It’s important to know that you are buying from a credible online store that values their brand and ensures that you are treated with respect as a consumer. So things like delivery time, security of their payment system and what other people that have bought from them say are very important,” says Tlou.