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FabList: Online Sustainable/’Circular’ Shopping

Second-hand, thrift, pre-loved, reworked, ‘circular retail’, upcycled….however you refer to it, sustainable shopping is definitely on the rise! And we love it!

A recent study said that 12% of the luxury fashion market comes from secondhand sources. And from my very unscientific research with young adults in their 20s, a bulk of their fashion purchases come from second-hand/sustainable sources. I (Chrissie) have been a big secondhand purchaser/seller for a while. It started when eBay entered our lives (my kids still don’t forgive me for selling all my now-collectible SEGA video games, consoles, and merch waaay too soon), and then with Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.

To have the best luck at all of these platforms/sites it’s good to be as specific as possible when searching. However, if you are just browsing or don’t know specifically what you might want then by all means go broad and see what you find!

There are many sites and options availble and this is by no means an all-inclusive list, but rather those I have tries or that have been referred to me by others who recommend them. The FabList of where/how to shop sustainably for home and fashion items is divided into the following sections:

  1. Local Online Marketplaces with in-person pick-up
  2. Online clothing rental
  3. Online clothing peer-to-peer sales
  4. Online ‘auction’ format peer-to-peer sales

 

Local Online Marketplaces with In-Person Pick-Up:

 

Craigslist:

Items: All, but I mainly use for household items/furniture

Who/How: Online, sold locally and you pick it up

The grandaddy of local secondhand online shopping. Via Craigslist I have furnished a couple of homes at this point…and I don’t mean just a chair here and there …I mean pretty much the ENTIRE home except for mattresses and dishware. I love looking around a room and recalling the origin of each item, and often the character who sold it to me!

I have been to a variety of MANY strangers’ homes over the years (and even got a set of chairs from a houseboat) picking up everything from chairs, sectionals, tables, headboards, dressers, rugs, lamps, arrtwork, and more! The hardest part of a transaction is finding a way to transport larger items that won’t fit in your car (Lugg is a popular app for this, however).

I am personally not a big bargainer on Craigslist, although I have done so a few times. People who have purchased from me however seem very happy to bargain – so just know ahead of time if you want/are willing to negotiate. If you don’t want to, then state ‘firm price’ on your listing and stay firm! Some people I know only go to get an item with a friend or let someone know where they are headed for general safety purposes. I have never had any creepy issues, however, and most buyers will bring items outside for you, especially post Covid.

Just last week I went to look at a porcelain elephant stool (yes…I was specific and searched ‘porcelain elephant stool’ and a few popped up!)l. When I arrived to have a look at it, the seller summed Craigslist up, saying  “I’m just not feeling it anymore with this stool, and am so glad you can use it”! Her ‘unfelt elephant’ is now my living room side table, is much more interesting (and affordable) than anything I could have gotten at a regular retailer, and I love it – see the regal guy below! I also included a photo of our guest room that has arrows indicated all the items (rug, side tables, headboard, mirror, dresser) that are from Craigslist.

I have also sold many items via the site over the years, including two cars. In recent years I’ve done less household item shopping, but when I do it seems I have to dig a bit more or wait longer to find certain things (STILL on the hunt for a good, small outdoor sectional). I am a Craigslist fan and it makes me happy to look around at the items I have saved from landfill and given a new life to!

Facebook Marketplace:

Items: All, but I mainly use for household goods/furniture.

Who/How: Online, sold locally and you pick it up

Also super popular for everything from home goods to fashion and everything in between. Works very much like Craigslist and has become very popular in the past 5-10 years, especially amongst the younger crowd it seems.

I’ve used Facebook Marketplace more and more in recent years and it seems that the younger generation uses this almost exclusively over Craigslist now. Vintage clothing is popular amongst all ages and last month one of my kids’ girlfriends said she got a brand new/current pair of jeans she was looking for at a fraction of the retail price from a woman who had bought/washed them but didn’t like them anymore. You can be super specific on what you are looking for! Look and you shall (hopefully) find!

 

NextDoor:

Items: All, but again, I’ve focused primarily on household items.

Who/How: Online, sold locally and you pick it up

Not as popular, nor at full of items,  as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, but they do have a lot of items both for sale as well as a good free section. As it’s more neighborhood-based, and you can filter down your neighborhood as narrow as you want to, many people I know seem to feel more comfortable ‘shopping’ on Nextdoor, from ‘neighbors’, vs from broader ‘strangers’ on FB or CL.

 

Online Clothing Rental 

 

Rent the Runway

Items: Fashion

Who/How: You rent it, they ship it to you, you send it back.

I haven’t used it but know a lot of people who use it for special events when they don’t want to, for instance, buy a fancy black tie dress for $$$ but are happy to rent one for an event.

Nuuly

Items: Clothing

What/How: Nuuly has two options:

Nuuly Rent: pay $98/mo to rent 6 items and then swap them for another 6 the next month (and you can buy ones you love)

Nuuly Thrift: Buy and sell apparel, accessories, and shoes. Resell products from anywhere. The money you earn from sales can come directly to you or you get 10% more if you convert it to Nuuly cash to use on the site or to purchase brands that are part of the Nuuly ‘family’ – Anthro, Free People, Urban Outfitters, BHDLN or Terrain.

This is one I have not used myself, but it came up a LOT when I asked the younger adults what they were using especially the Nuuly Thrift option.

Pickle Clothing

Items: Fashion

What it is: Peer-to-peer clothing rental. You can sign up to rent others’ clothes or to out rent your own clothes to others.

I just read about this but don’t know anyone personally who has used it but it sounded really interesting so I wanted to include it in case it interests you. It lets people monetize their own wardrobes (enabling people to become their own mini rent-the-runway via their own closets), or if you’re on the other side it allows you to rent others’ clothes.

 

Online Peer-to-Peer Direct & Some Acting as a ‘go-between’ handling logistics of the sale

Consignment/Thrifting (‘Circular Closet’)

The RealReal

Items: Authenticated high-end fashion, jewelry, and accessories

How it works: They are technically ‘peer to peer’ but different from others below in that they act as a literal middleman, with items going to their warehouse first for authentication, photos, descriptions etc. They only accept a specific high-end list of products and they manage the sale and the shipments. You get paid upon sale.

I have used TRR for years for fashion and jewelry. It’s nice to know things have been deemed authentic, that you get a valuation report for jewelry etc, and that most items are returnable.

Chairish

Items: High-End Furniture, Art, Home Decor

How it works: Like the Real Real, Chairish has to accept your items and things are authenticated etc. It is not an Etsy or a mom and pop type of site! Many designers use the site and many have ‘stores’ as well. There is a program only for the design trade as well. If you are looking for high end pieces it’s a good place to go.

Many of my friends have used this for higher end decor items and have had great luck.

 

Nuuly

See above – they have an active thrifting part of their site offering

 

ThredUP

Items: Primarily fashion – women’s and kids’ secondhand apparel

How it works: They send you a large bag to fill with your clothes and they will handle all the photos, listings and outbound logistics from their distribution center. Let them do the work of selling for you!

Also have used it in the past – many brands and lower prices.

 

Deepop

Items: Fashion that skews young/hip

What is is: ‘Circular fashion’ – Buy or sell previously used clothing as well as clothing made by members. To sell, users “Take up to four photos. Describe what you’re selling. Decide your price. Get paid fast when your item sells. Ship.”

Also one I have not used myself but came up with younger users. You can shop by price, shop by fashion, shop by their own edit. People create/sell their own brands as well. The site says that their most sold items include ‘vintage, one of a kind, streetwear and YTK’.

 

Poshmark

Items: Marketplace for new and secondhand fashion, home, beauty and electronic items

How it works: You list items via your phone. When it sells they provide the shipping materials and take a cut.

I used a couple time years ago to sell some items and it was easy to use. The items are much less expensive than the RealReal etc.

 

Vestiaire Collective

Items: High-end fashion

How it works: You take a photo and list time and they’ll recommend the right price. They provide the prepaid label.

I haven’t used it but have read a lot about it from those who use it for high-end fashion items.

 

Re.statement

Items: Fashion

What is it: Online marketplace for upcycled fashion – new clothes created from exciting or used materials. Anyone can shop there, or you can apply to be a seller.

I don’t know anyone has used this, but they have some great, unique items

 

Online Pre-Used Items – Auction Format and Fixed ‘Buy it Now’ Prices

eBay:

We all know eBay and although I used it in it’s earlier days I have not used it in years as it’s grown to be more of a ‘retailer’. But there are still great things to be bought and sold here as it’s a huge marketplace for just about anything. One 25-year-old said, “I’ve used eBay in the past too if know exactly what item I want and know my size in it – or I cross-check eBay and depop to see who has it the cheapest.”

 

Goodwill

Items: Fashion, jewelry, art, other

This is my newest ‘find’ (that I learned about in the New York Times so it’s not really such a secret find I guess!). It’s primarily auction-based with limited ‘buy it now’ options. Items are curated from Goodwills around the country.  I got myself some gold hoop earrings for Christmas from the site at a great discount vs buying at retail. Items are NOT returnable though!

 

Retailers Upcycling Materials

There is also a strong trend of retailers to upcycle materials – remaking items from used materials or items. Patagonia lets you trade-in or buy old items, Madewell takes in any brand of used denim and gives you $20 off a new pair, Re/Done uses old denim to make new clothes….just to name a few. All the brands making ‘new from old’ are for another post!

 

Some comments from the 20’s crowd I surveyed:

  • “I try to thrift when I’m not in SF because it tends to be cheaper so like utah, texas, washington, etc! But I love crossroads in SF, facebook marketplace, goodwill for home stuff, i’m doing nuuly renting right now which I love! it’s not secondhand but same vibe.”
  • “I tend to shop at the realreal for second hand clothing and accessories. I also like buying items from nuuly that have previously been rented by people (free people has a Nuuly section of second hand pieces for example).”
  • “Not sure if you have any british readers but charity shops are big here and they’re like thrift stores too but directly donate to charities a lot of the time “
  • “Rent the runway is also used like Nuuly but it’s a bit of a debate amongst my peers which is better. I’m team Nuuly personally.”
  • “For clothes/shoes: eBay, Poshmark, the real real, gear trade (for outdoors gear), Nuuly, rent the runway For home goods/furniture: Facebook marketplace For books: thriftbooks.com or eBay.  In-person NYC has a ton of thrift I haven’t explored yet but had some luck at housing works for furniture which has a ton of locations across the city”
  • “eBay especially is a great spot for cool vintage finds once you dig around a bit. I also like places like Frankie Collective that rework pieces in interesting ways – it’s more streetwear, but there are a lot of spots that do that for various styles”

 

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Joanne & Chrissie

Chrissie and Joanne love discovering, curating and creating. They developed FabList as a place to share their favorite finds with you.

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Chrissie and Joanne love discovering, curating and creating. They developed FabList as a place to share their favorite finds with you.

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