For as long as we can remember, there’s been talk of how connected we have become with each other thanks to the Internet, a connection that has only grown with the advent of social networking sites. Now, that connection is being taken even further with shareable economy websites, websites that encourage users to share their goods with one another to build an online community based on sharing. The phenomenon has also spread to fashion, with shareable fashion sites that allow visitors to sift through hundreds upon thousands of clothing choices donated by you and me!
But there are a whole plethora of shareable fashion websites of all different kinds, so how do they work? Read on for the ins and outs on the shareable fashion economy and a quick guide to some shareable fashion sites.
What is the sharing economy?
Before we can go into the types of shareable fashion sites out there, you need to first understand what the sharing economy is. While most sharing economy businesses are run based on either sharing between users or on a business-to-consumer model where a company provides customers with a product, the sharing economy’s main focus is to give you a wider access to goods you want, as shareable business owner Michael Brown explains.
“There are many types of sharing economy businesses, but one feature that’s common among all of them is this idea of having access over ownership,” says Brown. “What this means is that it’s not necessarily important to own stuff, but to have access to it. For example, I haven’t owned a car in seven years, but there are companies like Zipcar around my area so I always have access to whichever kind of car I need.”
As Brown mentions, these companies can operate on a business-to-consumer model like Zipcar. Or, they can operate on a peer-to-peer model that’s run entirely by a site’s users, like couchsurfing.org. Either way, these companies aim to reduce consumption through sharing, which helps users save money, make money, and connect with strangers around the world!
In the case of shareable fashion sites, sharing means putting your old clothes up for sale, buying other users’ secondhand clothes, swapping clothes with someone across the country, or even renting clothing items! No matter what form shareable fashion sites take on, their common function is to encourage you to recycle old items rather than constantly buy new ones. So with shareable fashion sites you still get access to a whole array of clothing, but in a way that’s more sustainable and less focused on consumption.
Without further ado, here are some great sites to get you sharing!
Selling your clothes, online and by mobile
One of the most common ways to clean your wardrobe is to sell clothes, shoes, and accessories that you may not wear anymore. Lucky for you, there’s a huge market for online clothing sales, where you get to not only put your own clothes up for sale, but also shop around for other users’ clothes as well!
If you have an iPhone, the Poshmark app lets you create a “covershot” of items you want to sell, and in under 60 seconds you can filter and upload your photo for all Poshmark users to see. Want to also shop on the go? Because Poshmark is a mobile app, you can access the site from anywhere with your phone, letting you also shop on the run. While only iPhone and iPad users are able to access Poshmark for now, there’s word that an Android version is in the works, too!
To get the most out of your Poshmark experience, join a Posh Party every once in a while! Posh Parties are virtual buying and selling parties among Poshmark users that feature listings and groups for specific items, or specific brands. Not only will you be able to easily locate the clothing items and brands that you want, you also get to connect with all Poshmark users in a fashion-forward and fashion-loving community!
Another online used clothing site with a mobile app is Threadflip. While you have to be a member to sell, non-members are free to browse any Threadflip user’s closet to find clothes that can be 80% off retail price! As a Threadflip member, you get to photograph and price your items by yourself, giving you a lot of power over the buying and selling process. In many cases, shipping is also free, meaning that you get to buy and sell the styles you want without having to pay extra fees.
Want to sell your clothes but don’t have the time to photograph or price them? If you sign up for the White Glove Service, Threadflip will send you an envelope that you can pack all your for-sale items into, and all you need to do is send it back so the Threadflip staff can help you photograph and price your clothes. That way, you can also make sure that your items are priced appropriately so you don’t run the risk of over- or under- pricing!
Swapping for style
While shopping for new clothes is exciting, have you ever thought about swapping instead? Online clothing swapping sites have popped up and created huge communities of fashion lovers who thrive on exchanging their old loved clothes for someone else’s. Clothing swap sites have users all around the world looking to trade in everything from old vintage looks to trendy designer brands for new things to love. Not only is it a dynamic way to meet and interact with others online, you get everything for free!
A great site for clothing swap beginners is SwapStyle. Just upload a picture of an item you want to swap, and then flip through thousands of uploads from other members. When you find something you like, contact that member to negotiate a swap. If the swap works out, you will get your new clothes in just a few days from anywhere around the world! Don’t have anything to swap but still want great clothes for cheap? SwapStyle also lets members price their items for sale, so you can opt out of the swapping process if you don’t have anything to offer at first.
To make your clothing SwapStyle ventures a great success, be sure to take the time and connect with other users whenever you can! Don’t hesitate to message other users and form connections because the larger your clothing swap network, the more you’ll be aware of swaps you may like as they come up. Who knows, maybe you’ll even get first dibs on other users’ items before they’re publicly posted!
Bib + Tuck
Instead of just swapping clothes, some clothing swap sites focus on swapping virtual dollars in exchange for clothes, like Bib + Tuck! While the site operates like a regular online clothing store that lets you “buy” items, its virtual currency lets you sift through other members’ old things rather than spend real money to buy new and unused clothes. First, you “bib” by uploading an item for sale and pricing it in B+T bucks. When another member “buys” your item, you get the bucks so that you get to “tuck,” which is when you use your own bucks to buy other members’ items. Since the bucks are virtual, you’re actually getting these items all for free! The only thing you pay for is shipping.
The more you “bib” and “tuck,” the more clothes you’ll be able to score for free, as Sara has. “I sold a Phillip Lim blouse and traded it for Dannijo long earrings. I had to pay a bit extra but it was worth it for earrings since I would never have been able to afford them otherwise. I’ve also “tucked” a great pair of Zara heels and a Lanvin for H&M tee shirt I missed when the collab released!”
Make sure to also take advantage of a Bib + Tuck feature that lets you read about featured users’ closets, giving you an idea of how to use the site to put together your own unique wardrobe. Check back very often as well, since the active “tucking” that happens among the site’s users means that many are constantly “bibbing” and putting up new items for the whole community.
Save money by renting clothes
Renting your clothes online is another trend that has been popping up, and one that you should definitely look into. Not only do you still get stylish clothes for cheap rates, you won’t have to worry about buying clothes that you may only wear on occasion!
Rent the Runway
As far as rental sites go, Rent the Runway is arguably the most well-known. This fun, easy-to-use site helps you find designer dresses for up to 90% off the original retail price to borrow for up to eight days! Ever dreamed of sauntering around in a Vera Wang gown? Or what about a Lily Pulitzer knee-length dress? RTR offers the most beautiful selections, making it worth taking your time to flip through the site.
RTR also has fantastic customer service, as New York University sophomore Hannah Orenstein attests, “I took advantage of an RTR feature that lets you rent a second style of dress for an additional $25. When the two dresses arrived in the mail, I had a major diva moment and couldn’t decide between the two! An RTR stylist told me to take photos of myself in each dress and to email them to the office. The stylists all voted on which dress they thought fit better and helped me decide. Details like that really make the service feel personal.”
Talk to the stylists online as you browse through the site to get a second opinion! RTR’s online chat system complements the site’s review system, which gives you each customer’s height, weight, body type, and even photos to let you get an idea of whether or not a dress would look good on you. Afraid that one dress won’t work out? That’s fine! RTR also lets you order a second size for free. Make sure to take advantage of RTR’s amazing customer service, easy site navigation, and huge selection, to name a few features, so you can get the dress you need!
If you love surprises, you’re going to love Le Tote! This rental site founded a year ago gives you a new tote bag of goodies for a monthly fee of $49. You start by creating a style profile, which the Le Tote staff looks at once you’re done to see what your personal style is. Then you get a new tote in the mail with three pieces of clothing and two accessories picked just for you and for you to keep as long as you like! Returning the items is easy, too, since all you need to do is mail the tote back and leave all the cleaning to the Le Tote staff.
Since the stylists at Le Tote are going off of preferences you put down yourself, try to be as specific as you can when you’re filling out your style profile! Le Tote is a great way to discover new styles for you, but you also want to make sure that all your clothes are still the right fit for you.
In the end, while you may be used to going out to store or browsing store sites to buy new clothes, you should still try and look into shareable fashion sites. Not only will you end up saving or making money, you’ll also get the chance to participate in some of the liveliest online communities around! So next time you’re tempted to hit ‘Buy’ for that new dress, take a look at a fashion site based on sharing before you click the button. There’s a good chance that you’ll still find something you love, but for less.