Why Shopping Secondhand Designer Is the Move This Holiday Season

secondhand designer holiday shopping

Photo:

Szymon Brzóska/The Style Stalker

The holiday season brings with it a bevy of delightful things: newly marked-down sale items, the ability to wear winter staples, and holiday shopping. Of course, shopping around the holidays has its own struggles—like balancing my desire to find perfect affordable gifts with wanting to buy everyone on my list something luxurious. Luckily, there’s a solution to this conundrum: secondhand shopping. Before you question my logic on this, just look at Thredup's most recent report, which reveals that 66% of consumers are open to receiving a secondhand gift. And if that’s not enough to sell you, three industry experts were kind enough to talk to us about why secondhand shopping this year is actually better all around. Ahead, you’ll hear from them what it will take to dismantle taboos around gifting, holiday shopping’s impact on the environment, and their tips for finding the best holiday gifts secondhand.

secondhand designer holiday shopping

Photo:

Courtesy of Sophie Hersan

WHO: Sophie Hersan, Co-Founder and Fashion Director, Vestiaire Collective

How did you get into the luxury resale industry? And what do you love about working at Vestiaire Collective?

Working in fashion and luxury for 15 years, I became aware of the overconsumption in the industry. I co-founded Vestiaire Collective to combat the growing habits of buying more and wearing less. Our vision was to propose a sustainable solution as an alternative to avoid fashion waste, and now this is an all-time necessity.

secondhand designer holiday shopping

Photo:

Szymon Brzóska/The Style Stalker

We've made strides within the industry and the larger world around dismantling misconceptions about secondhand clothing, but what do you think still needs to be done to shift the way we consume around the holiday season? 

During the holiday season (especially starting with Black Friday), buying secondhand should be favored. We’re proud to have our community lead the change toward buying secondhand; it’s better for the planet, and that’s the best gift money can buy. We always have and will continue to advocate buying better, being conscious, and providing sustainable solutions for the year known for abundant shopping. 

What would you say are some of the benefits of shopping secondhand this holiday season?

Although some might argue price, we believe the most significant benefit and unique attribute of shopping secondhand is the choice. Vestiaire Collective has a richness of a worldwide fashion closet, so much variety, and something for every budget. It’s also wonderful to give a unique find with a special backstory. Some rare pieces may no longer exist, or you may not be able to find them in firsthand shopping.

In addition to buying secondhand, it can sometimes be taboo to return gifts after the holidays. What advice would you give someone who is apprehensive about reselling the things they were given but don't love? 

It’s not taboo to share or give a second life to a fashion item rather than leave it in your wardrobe collecting dust, which keeps the fashion circularity alive.

What tips would you give those who have never gifted with anything secondhand when shopping this holiday season?

Tip #1: Buy a vintage piece. Vintage is timeless; the pieces go beyond the trends and never go out of style.

Tip #2: Buy locally. Not only is it faster, but it’s less transport, which means it’s better for the environment.

Tip #3: Check out our special curated selections. You can find the most desirable and searched-for products specially curated by our fashion teams.

Tip #4: Know who you are buying from. It’s important to bond with the person you’re buying from; connecting with other fashion lovers is part of the experience, discovering the backstory of the items you want! You can also use the chat to make offers so you can get the best price.

As someone who is well-versed within the market, are there any secondhand gift ideas you always recommend shopping for? 

The most common pieces to regift are accessories (handbags and jewelry), as they’re a “safe bet” when you don’t have to worry about sizing.

secondhand designer holiday shopping

Photo:

Courtesy of Michelle Li

WHO: Michelle Li, Senior Style Editor, Tradesy

How did you get into the luxury resale industry? And what do you love about working at Tradesy? 

I've always loved shopping resale and vintage because it's driven my personal style so much more than trends. Working at Tradesy is so rewarding because I am able to use my editorial expertise to inform decision-making on the brand side. I find it's easier to craft storytelling now that I work with a larger scope of items and special vintage pieces instead of being beholden to current runway collections.

secondhand designer holiday shopping

Photo:

Szymon Brzóska/The Style Stalker

We've made strides within the industry and the larger world around dismantling misconceptions about secondhand clothing, but what do you think still needs to be done to shift the way we consume around the holiday season? 

I think we still need to dismantle the myth that secondhand clothing is "less than" brand-new items, especially during the holiday season when shopping and consumption are at a peak. I think it makes more sense to shift the focus from shiny, new gifts to thoughtful, meaningful pieces—which means they may have been pre-loved but are still, if not more, special.

What would you say are some of the benefits of shopping secondhand this holiday season? 

There's the sustainability conversation: Shopping secondhand has a smaller footprint on the environment, helps create a circular fashion economy, and supports small businesses (a substantial number of sellers on Tradesy are individuals and rely on the sales for supplemental income). There is also the fact that the resale market is booming, with options for everyone. It goes back to debunking the myth that secondhand is "less than." Just because someone no longer wants it does not mean that it's less desirable. It also circumvents the supply chain issue. Much brand-new merchandise in stores and online is not available for delivery until after the holiday season. Shopping resale eliminates the concern of a gift not arriving on time. 

In addition to buying secondhand, it can sometimes be taboo to return gifts after the holidays. What advice would you give someone who is apprehensive about reselling the things they were given but don't love? 

It's better to sell items and allow someone else to love it than have it sit around in your closet unused. Especially if it’s already pre-owned, you’re paying it forward by re-listing the item. Then you have the cash to buy what you really want.

What tips would you give those who have never gifted with anything secondhand when shopping this holiday season?

Tip #1: Be open-minded and patient. You don’t have to know precisely what you want but explore based on a category or designer, and more often than not, you'll find something better than what you're imagining.

Tip #2: Give a little love: Tailors, cobblers, and dry cleaners are often the solution to fixing an item that is not brand new, may need a fresh coat of polish, a new leather sole, or some new buttons.

Tip #3: Read the fine print. If you’re shopping online, make sure you read the full product description so there are no surprises when the package arrives. Tradesy guarantees authenticity on all items on the site so you don’t need to worry about accidentally buying a replica designer piece.

Tip #4: Ask questions. The seller has all the answers and wants to sell, so don’t be shy if you have questions or wish to negotiate.

As someone who is well-versed within the market, are there any secondhand gift ideas you always recommend shopping for?

I always look at Chanel; the resale marketplace for Chanel is so unique because there are so many limited-edition items. I also love hunting for vintage Gucci bags and Prada shoes. I’m also always looking for contemporary brands like Rejina Pyo, Marina Moscone, and Ganni.

secondhand designer holiday shopping

Photo:

Courtesy of Noelle Sciacca

WHO: Noelle Sciacca, Women’s Editorial Lead, The RealReal

How did you get into the luxury resale industry? And what do you love about working at The RealReal?

I spent a decade in fashion editorial, working at magazines across the Hearst and Condé Nast publishing houses. I loved my various roles at these companies but struggled with the over-emphasis on what's new and next. I'd preview collections a season ahead. By the time they were available for purchase, everyone would already be on to a future season, the current season already feeling stale and old. What attracted me to The RealReal was the opportunity to slow down and revisit collections and items from the past that barely had time to be celebrated the first time around.

secondhand designer holiday shopping

Photo:

Szymon Brzóska/The Style Stalker

We've made strides within the industry and the larger world around dismantling misconceptions about secondhand clothing, but what do you think still needs to be done to shift the way we consume around the holiday season?

We need to be more mindful of overconsumption. Gift things people will genuinely use, not things that will gather dust. From gifting to decorating to buying party outfits, shop secondhand. And if you’re given something you won’t use, find a way to put it back into circulation—depending on the item, return it, resell it, or donate it.

What would you say are some of the benefits of shopping secondhand this holiday season?

It’s a more sustainable way to shop and gift because you’re helping keep things that already exist in circulation. With supply chain challenges creating a lack of availability on the primary market, shopping secondhand is also a great way to find sold-out styles that you can’t get anywhere else.

In addition to buying secondhand, it can sometimes be taboo to return gifts after the holidays. What advice would you give someone who is apprehensive about reselling the things they were given but don't love?

Putting something you won’t wear or use back into circulation by reselling it is a powerful way to offset the environmental cost of producing new items. Our TRR Sustainability Calculator measures that savings, so when you sell, you’ll see what you’re helping offset with each piece. Reselling an unwanted gift is one easy thing you can do to help make the holidays more sustainable. Plus, you can take what you earn from the sale and invest in something you’ll truly love.

What tips would you give those who have never gifted with anything secondhand when shopping this holiday season?

Tip #1: The best advice I can give for luxury resale is to buy from a site or shop with an authenticity guarantee. That should be a red flag if they don’t stand behind what they sell.

Tip #2: Read the fine print on the return policy. Many secondhand sites don’t allow returns, but some, like The RealReal, do. Especially if you’re gifting with apparel or shoes, it’s nice to have the flexibility to return or exchange if the fit isn’t right.

Tip #3: Use gift guides. Because every item in resale is one-of-a-kind, there are many options—great news for finding the perfect gift, but it can be overwhelming. That’s why we have curated holiday gift guides to help make it easy and tons of filters to narrow down options. Look for features like those to help you find what you’re looking for.

Tip #4: If you’re most comfortable gifting brand-new items, look for filters like The RealReal’s “new with tags.” It’s a great way to give new life to a piece that someone was gifted or bought and never worn.

As someone who is well-versed within the market, are there any secondhand gift ideas you always recommend shopping for?

Classic and timeless pieces make the most foolproof gifts—they’re great staples that will never go out of style (think of a Louis Vuitton Neverfull or a Cartier Love bracelet). I generally stick with gifting pieces where I don’t worry about fit, like handbags, jewelry, and watches.

Shop more secondhand designer gift ideas:

For anyone who's jumped back on the Y2K trend, this is the perfect gift. 

These statement earrings are sure to stun them.

Gifting them with a chic cardholder is never a bad call.

If they love traveling, this gift will be used for years to come.

They may not live on a French châteaux, but that doesn't mean they can't dress the part. 

Shopping for your mom? There's no better gift than the bag that exudes rich mom energy. 

Run, don’t walk to secure this Prada baseball cap. 

When in doubt, Saint Laurent has got you covered. 

Give them something that will stay in the family for generations to come.

Trust me; every fashion girl wants this bag.

This Coach bag did not need to be that cute though. 

Gifting them with these Givenchy pool slides will land you on their good side.

I've gifted my bestie with a Jacquemus bucket hat before, and I'm telling you it's the move. 

The most polished person in your life will love this purse. 

Vintage Dior earrings? Don't mind if we do. 

A bucket bag is a welcome addition to any wardrobe.

This scarf is perfect for keeping them warm in the winter months ahead.

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