Upcycled clothing is becoming widely popular amongst home craft sellers and textile moguls alike thanks to a spike in eco-conscious consumerism.
The demand is so fierce that even big-name brands including ASOS and Urban Outfitters are now selling dedicated ranges of upcycled clothing on their websites with intentions to combat the 92 million tonnes of textiles waste created each year from fast fashion.
How can you begin making your own profit from upcycled clothing? Our tips for selling upcycled clothing online will help you convince consumers that reinvented throwaways can serve more than just one purpose.
Think of upcycling like recycling. Recycling happens after a product is thrown away and is then used to make new materials and objects. Upcycling is a branch of recycling where old products are transformed into something new or improved.
Recycling: Old wool jumpers can be recycled to make carpets.
Upcycling: Old wool jumpers can be cut up into different shapes, stuffed, embellished and re-sown to make Christmas tree ornaments.
You have more control over what you are upcycling as the product transformation is typically less drastic in comparison to the wider recycling process. Upcycled clothing is made from whole pieces of existing garments to create something new whereas recycled materials must be broken down before they can be reused.
Upcycled clothing is unique and can vary in quality depending on craftsmanship. You need to determine the quality of your products and which platform they will perform best on in order to sell successfully.
Promoting your $700 upcycled Gucci handbag may not be well suited to a platform like Depop where the majority of people are looking to buy clothing under the $100 mark.
To sell upcycled clothing, consider platforms like Etsy or ASOS Marketplace that are known to sell upcycled goods. This will grant you better exposure and you will find buyers much easier.
Do some market research into the selling platforms available to you to see where you are most likely to make the most efficient sales for your products.
This might seem like an obvious point but quality should never go amiss when reselling second-hand clothes online, especially with garments that are older and have been repurposed multiple times. Even when it comes to upcycled clothing, buyers are still looking for the product to appear new and well kept.
Take the time to make sure that your clothing is well presented. That means washed, ironed and steamed with no lindt or dog hairs scattered around.
Selling and packaging second-hand clothes that have been quality checked and packaged like new, show your buyer that you have taken good care of the product they are investing in and will score you brownie points when they are considering a next time buy. It may even increase your chances of word of mouth recommendations to their friends and family.
Lighting along with presentation is essential in making sure that your products sell. Good lighting displays the product clearly which means your buyers can inspect it thoroughly and evaluate whether it’s a good buy.
More importantly, products photographed in poor lighting will not accurately display the colour and overall look of the product which could potentially mean that buyers are left disappointed and dissatisfied, increasing your chances of returned goods.
To get the best photos of your garment, photograph in natural light where possible. Natural light captures products in their truest form and is the most flattering light for nearly all photographs.
For those that are more experienced, you can use studio lighting that is set up on the correct settings for better exposure and consistency in your photographs.
Photograph your clothing against a neutral background so that your buyers can see the product clearly. Product visibly needs to be the primary focus of the photo. If you don’t have access to a studio, the back of a door or a white wall with a hook where a picture is usually hung works perfectly.
Always hang your clothes rather than opting for lying them on the floor or against distracting backgrounds. Hanging your clothes against a plain background is the most flattering option to display clothing in the absence of a mannequin or model.
Another great way to display your upcycled clothing is to provide close-ups of any embellishments, patterns, brand names or labels on the garment. It’s a chance for you to display the work you’ve created and showcase the upcycled materials’ best qualities.
Remember that consumers are unable to feel touch and try on the clothes. Taking close-ups is the best way to replicate these experiences so that buyers can determine the characteristics of the garment for themselves.
Particularly, many buyers will often be looking for a brand name or label undergarment to guarantee quality.
It may prove challenging to sell unbranded upcycled clothing, usually they will have to be priced lower, but if you can guarantee that a brand name or label is authentic your chances of selling automatically increase.
Consumers know what to expect when buying upcycled clothing. Wears, tears and minor quality loss is common. What they want is for you as a seller to be transparent and honest with them about any faults with the clothing you are reselling.
Mention any damage in the product description and photograph it so that the buyer can inspect the product and make an educated decision on whether to buy.
There’s no shame in selling a product that has minor faults. The only shame comes with not telling consumers the truth!
After taking photos of your clothing, make sure that they are backed up with a high quality description.
Writing a good description is easy. First you need to consider how to describe the product accurately. What are the key terms people are searching for? If you’re selling a dress, mention the style and pattern. For example, “halter neck floral dress in blue”
These are your key words which can then be embellished with other descriptive terms such as vintage, the era it was made etc.
Once you’ve got the description nailed, be sure not to forget the key points of the product that people will also want to know such as size, dimensions if you have them and the quality it’s in.
Doing this really maximizes the value of your garments and encourages people to buy.
You’ll end up with something like this:
Gorgeous sky blue halter neck dress with white floral pattern. The long maxi skirt makes this dress perfect for summer events, garden parties and weddings. Sleeveless with a boho style and contemporary design.
Size: S / UK 8-10
81cm (bust) 67cm (waist) 92cm (hip) 170cm (length)
A good seller knows the value of their items. It can be difficult to tell what the right price is for an upcycled goods because they can no longer be priced at the same value that they were once worth.
To combat poor pricing, make sure you evaluate your pricing properly. Look at the price of similar items to get an idea, then factor in shipping costs, material costs and the cost of labour. There are also pricing formulas available through most selling platforms online to help you.
After you’ve got the mathematics down to a T, you can start to figure out your profit margins. Be fair with your final pricing, as this needs to be reflected in the quality of your upcycled clothing. BUT be fair to yourself too. People are often willing to pay a premium, so long as they have transparency and proof an item is good for the environment.
Communication is key in making any effective sale. Consumers shouldn’t have to be doing all of the work to find something that they will love and treasure forever. Talk to them and encourage them to see the value and what you’re reselling.
When a buyer is looking to purchase from you be sure to be ready available to answer any questions they may have and address any concerns they may express. By putting their mind at ease you are reassuring them that they are making the right decision in purchasing from you.
General good practice is to thank the buyer for purchasing, let them know when you’ll be shipping their item so that they know the expected arrival date, and answer any queries.
Most importantly be kind, be helpful and be present. All of these qualities will not only help you sell more items, it will also increase your chances of receiving fantastic reviews for you to share with potential new customers.
Upcycling fashion is a trend that is here to stay.
Upcycling clothing on a regular basis will ultimately combat the environmental consequences of fast fashion for the foreseeable and is a great way for online sellers to engage eco-conscious consumers.
Selling upcycled clothing online reduces your textile waste, the need for raw materials AND increases your income!
To develop your business, check out our e-commerce tools page.
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