The secrets of consignment shopping for men

RealReal, Blue Spinach, Vestaire, Ebay, Modsie, Grailed & Even Goodwill Have Amazing Finds

Second hand shop guy

Listen mate, if you’re old enough to drive yourself to the mall, you’re too old to be buying all your clothes there and paying full price for mid-range fashions that everyone else is wearing. Whatever your personal style, there’s a whole world of affordable cutting-edge and conservative designer fashion out there, but it’s not where you’ve been shopping.

It’s in consignment shops and, better still, through online consignment shopping, where everything from a perfectly fitted blazer, Gucci loafers or that high-status watch you thought you couldn’t afford is just waiting for you to “Buy It Now.” 

If you’re sick of living life as a shopping novice, ready to man-up to the keyboard and turn pro, keep reading. The professor has recommendations for local and international consignment sites, and advice from a pro to jump start your shopping and help you avoid bush-league mistakes. 

The biggest secret is to do your homework, try on the brands you like in person, develop a strong sense of your size in each label, and how pieces by different designers fit you.

After that, it’s knowing where to shop, and having the persistence to find the item you’re looking for at a price you’re willing to pay.

A bonus - While you’re saving and upgrading your style, you can even be a bit smug knowing you’re helping save the planet!

“Needless to say, but we’ll say it anyway, by shopping second-hand you’re actively prolonging the lifespan of clothes that might otherwise get dumped in landfill. In Australia, that’s about 6000 kilograms every ten minutes,” reads a recent article in GQ Australia.

Getting Started

We’ll be honest, many of the best consignment shops we recommend are based in the U.S. However, if you’re determined to shop local and good on ya, there are options, including:

  • Sydney-based  Blue Spinach, which has a nice selection of men’s shoes, bags, briefcases and accessories.
  • Vintage Marketplace, This Melbourne-based platform specializes in American sportswear – which is ideal for isolating in – and its range of Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Nike is pure catnip for anyone with a nostalgic spot for the ’90s.
  • Modsie, which “is a favourite of many fashionistas. Featuring brands like Louis Vuitton, Christian Louboutin, Prada and Chanel, this is the place to find classic, trendy and hard-to-find designer items,” according to the  Beanstalk Mums website.

An international site favored by the Aussie press is  Grailed – which offers a rich stock of varied merchandise and easy-to-navigate design. 

On top of the more traditional “Shop by Category” (tops, bottoms, outerwear, etc.) and Designer (Gucci, Raf Simmons), Grailed makes it easier to pinpoint what you’re searching for with “Shop By Style” options broken down into “Streetwear,” “Luxury,” “Avant Garde,” “Vintage,” “Tech Gear,” and “Minimalist.”

Finally, it’s always good to check out Ebay, which not only has items sourced from Australia/New Zealand, but also Hong Kong and Saudia Arabia, both much closer than Europe and the U.S. A number of consignment sites are based on Ebay.

Seconds shirt shopping

Expert Advice

Let’s step back and let an expert weigh in. Ariel Ramerez, a photo editor for The New York Post, has been consignment shopping in-person and online for a few decades. “Online consignment shopping isn’t a replacement for shopping in (brick and mortar) stores, it’s ‘in ‘in addition to,’” he says.

Ramerez’ guidance reflects our own. If possible, you should try on pieces by the designers you like to understand how large-or-small their sizes run, as well as which brands flatter you and reflect your personal style.

“If you’re consignment shopping and doing it online, you should be very familiar with the brand you’re shopping for,” he explains.

“For example, Prada has its own sizes. YSL, has a fitted aesthetic. Presumably if you’re consignment shopping for a particular item, you’re likely already familiar with it.”

If you’re unfamiliar with the piece you’re stalking online, you’re taking too great a risk.

Find a Tailor You Trust

With online consignment, Ramerez also recommends shopping in a size larger with the understanding that it might require tailoring. Sizing brings us back to trying things on. You should be prepared to shop a size larger and then have the item tailored.

So, as you begin to upgrade your wardrobe, find a good, affordable tailor or seamstress you trust. Factoring in the price of alterations, you’ll still be saving hundreds off retail, he adds.

“If you’re a medium and you come across a large, it’s not going to take much work to make it fit,” he explains. “Also, don’t be afraid to ask the seller if it’s something that can be ‘let out.’ They’ll usually respond.”

What if you buy something that just won’t fit, even with alterations?

“Most Consignment shops don’t take things back. It’s case-specific to the individual seller,” Ramerez explains. “However, if you’re buying from consignment on eBay, there’s usually a 14-day return policy.”

Mens Tailor

Go Time!

Once you’ve figured out which designers you like and how their pieces fit you, it’s time to start shopping. Ramerez swears by a number of sites, including:

  • The RealReal: Authentic Luxury Consignment “That’s a great start. If the item is out there, they’re going to have something from that label you’re shopping for.” He adds that the RealReal does have an exchange policy, unless the item is on final markdown of 65% or more.
  • Miss Muchacha. The site reads, “14 years in business offering top of the line fashion designer brands like Zegna , Brioni, Chanel, and Gucci.” Ramerez says, “She’s low-key and doesn’t have thousands of items, but she often has what I’m shopping for, like high-end NY-based designer Thom Browne, shirts or Dior pants.”

Don’t Overlook Goodwill

Smart consignment shoppers can find treasures in unexpected places - Goodwill, for example. Ramerez says that while the charity’s stores may have a few nicer items on their racks, the high fashion motherlode is online, where its higher-end donations end up.

“Goodwill Seattle gets donations from Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. I also really like Goodwill San Francisco’s site. They have everything from Nautica to Gucci.”

For blokes who don’t like the idea of owning ‘someone else’s clothes,’ he stresses that not all consignment items are pre-owned. Some even have the original sales tags.

Bragging Rights

So, what level of savings are we really talking about here?

Ramerez lists a few “hall of fame” consignment purchases; a Canada Goose coat ($350) and a perfectly tailored Thom Browne blazer (both from the RealReal), and a pair of Thom Browne boots ($250/usually $2500 retail) from Linda’s Stuff.

He’s even found a Tissot watch for $150 on one of Goodwill’s sites.

His final thoughts. “Consignment shopping isn’t a one-off. It’s an endeavor,” he says, adding, “but why am I telling you this? I don’t need the competition.”

Crawford, Harriet, “7 Thrift & Vintage Stores You Can Shop Online During Isolation,” GQ Australia, April 23, 2020

Good, Lucy, “Where to Buy Secondhand Clothes Online in Australia,” Beanstalkmums.com, July 13, 2019


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