Many people are actively involved selling and buying
vintage clothing, dresses, accessories and textile related items through the web. Such people do not always have their own vintage websites and prefer to use sites like eBay.
It became clear to me some time ago that people using
my costume history web site were often referencing web pages to support
the write up for their vintage sales. People are so often blasé
about selling through the internet and have limited knowledge of their
item. Those of us who have sold any product of any type through
the internet, know that the internet can have pitfalls and a downside as
well as an upside. There is lots of behind the scenes work.
My aim is to help you start thinking about your
strategy for selling or buying.
do decide to have your own vintage clothing and textiles website it will cost money to run, time to
maintain and need technical know how to put together successfully.
So paying a site like eBay and seeing how you like internet selling may
be preferable initially. If it can be profitable in your case,
building your own personal website and all the associated hosting costs
may not be a worry, but just become a business cost.
examples of vintage web sites I include for you to compare as internet
shop fronts against an auction house like eBay, are
www.contentmentfarmantiques.com/ I recommend
them both, not only for quality items, but the visual experience of
browsing their goods. Vintage Textile runs as an independent website,
whereas Contentment Farm Antiques
once traded within www.rubylane.com/
Both contentmentfarm.com and vintagetextile.com offer museum quality,
unusual and desirable items. With eBay sales you have to wade through far more
'vintage' material to find the real treasures.
If you go to Ruby Lane you can read about
only admit shops that have an exclusive feel to the goods. Therefore it
does not operate in the same 'instant' way as eBay does where any and
everyone is welcome initially to sell or buy goods there. But once
you go to a site like Ruby Lane you may find it a more enjoyable
experience where more exclusive items sit side by side. The way to
wet your feet may be with something like eBay to get a feel of what may
be involved. The huge customer base means you will probably have some
measure of success. Contentment Farm made a good start at Ruby
Lane and then developed her own website
Yes I know there are some other established superb
vintage sites like that of Karen Augusta, but for now I will be
concentrating on these two sites who have kindly also donated images for
vintage effectively long term on the web, the seller has to do more than just jump
in. A little thought on approach to presentation can make the
difference between selling successfully and making a living as many do,
or making buyers too wary to purchase through lack of quality
The best piece of information a vintage seller can give to any
consumer is firstly an image.
Everyone want to see what an article looks like.
The most important facts to a purchaser of vintage
clothing from an internet site or auction, include several good
photographic shots of specific aspects of the item, preferably on a
mannequin to show shape or set against an
Certain details shown in photographs, such as
zip type, other
fastening details, fabric type and seam type finishing such as hand
rolled, Paris bound seams, French seams or serged and overlocked seams,
brand or designer label, care label if any, all reveal the right
information that help a buyer decide if an item is genuinely placed in
the correct vintage era. See
photographs here on another page showing a label and handbag with
and without clutter.
Armed with a
decent description, the buyer can decide if the garment is the sort they
want to bid on and buy. Good descriptions help make sales, but the
descriptions must be accurate and truthful, so that the buyer's trust is
won. Likewise the buyer must always remember the consumer watchdog
phrase "caveat emptor" or
Buyers just want to see clear fast loading images and
look through as much vintage information in as fast a time as practical.
One way, is to use thumbnails, then link to a fee charging reputable
image hosting service such as Vendio or Andale image hosting to name
two. At the same time avoid using music which really irritates
people and again slows loading of content. Ask yourself this
question - do you stay at such sites?
Other facts bidders like to know include a
written description that should cover all the selling points on
page 3 of this section.
If you have more information and extra knowledge or a receipt tell
buyers about it. This may be correspondence, the item having been
displayed in a museum exhibition, couture information, perhaps a
photograph of when first worn or original packaging include or be
willing to provide evidence of it.
This information helps create provenance (history of
ownership). For example I used to verify costumes that came from
the Castle Howard Collection. Whilst they were not always in mint
condition, they had an appealing provenance as Castle Howard is
associated with the series Brideshead Revisited so making them of
greater interest to collectors.
Yes, you can make a living from selling vintage on the
internet or from a stall or shop. Plenty of people are making a
living from selling vintage goods when they love and enjoy doing it.
Problems occur more readily when people jump on the bandwagon because
they have heard there is a market for vintage and do it simply for the
money, rather than the love of it.
Many regard selling vintage clothing as a craft skill.
Passion is necessary to hunt down clothes from second
hand vintage and thrift shops, flea markets, charity shops, yard sales,
jumble sales, fetes, car boot and garage sales. That's only the start of
the process. Then comes the work of maybe repairing a seam,
items using products you have
photographing, writing the
description to accompany them, having spent time researching fashion
history books and websites. Then you will need to scan or/and upload
the photographs to the computer, maybe enhance them and then upload to
an auction site. You will probably need to pay to do this as no
one operates auctions for free. Every industry involved expects a
cut of a few dollars whether it is PayPal, Clickbank or eBay or Ruby
Then when the sale is completed and it isn't always a
sale, you'll still have to pack and
ship the goods, paying for
packaging materials and taking
a trip. You'll use your time to get to the post office. You
will of course need to keep accounts for the Inland Revenue and if it
gets to be big business the VAT man too.
Hopefully you do have passion, because all of this
takes time and time is money. You will also need to invest money
to make money. So, if you cannot develop a great passion and
follow through properly like a professional vintage seller you cannot
hope to make a profit, because profit comes from long term repeat custom
of satisfied customers. You only have once chance to make a
good impression on a buyer, the first time is the best ever chance you
have, so you have to be professional at all times in your dealings.
You become "your firm".
So sell the best vintage items in the best condition you
can afford to buy. Develop a reputation for quality, rather than
quantity so your clientele knows you to be reliable for selling better
than average items. It is possible to make a living from this
activity if you follow through with passion and professionalism.
You can do it if you want to succeed. But you'll
need to understand many of the issues covered in the following pages
here. At the same time you will gain hours of experience
which will enable you to formulate your own system suited to your way of
selling or buying.
Fashion-Era.com looks at women's costume and fashion history and analyses the mood of an era. Changes in technology, leisure, work, cultural and moral values. Homelife and politics also
contribute to lifestyle trends, which in turn influence the clothes we wear. These are the changes that make any era of society special in relation to the study of the costume of a period.
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