They’re watching you from inside your closet.
The dress you bought for a specific bottomless brunch. The blazer you bought for an interview at a company that’s no longer hiring. They taunt you silently every time you push them aside for a monochrome sweatsuit.
The pandemic has made plenty of us rethink our wardrobes, but getting bogged down by unwanted clothes isn’t a pandemic-only phenomenon. Chances are, you already have a trash bag in your closet where perfectly nice castoffs go to die — and it’s easy to let that bag become a permanent fixture on your to-do list.
This is your sign. Start selling your clothes online.
Whether your items are lightly worn or were never touched after the initial try-on, knowing how to sell them effectively is a valuable skill. You’ll have a go-to way to earn extra cash for years to come.
I’ve recommended resale apps to friends, and much of their hesitation stemmed from the same place: “No one wants my stuff.” But that’s not necessarily true. You’d be surprised at what buyers are actively hunting down, especially when prices are cheaper than buying new. There’s a market for the stuff that’s too cool for Plato’s Closet and the stuff that’s too basic for Buffalo Exchange.
I’ll never forget the rush I felt after finding a pair of platform SK8-Hi Vans in my size on Depop after months of seeing “Out of stock” everywhere else. That seller doesn’t know it, but her not wanting those random shoes made my life.
Don’t let snobby thrift stores who accept nothing bully you into thinking your wardrobe sucks.
Shopping secondhand is also one of the easiest ways to live more sustainably. The fast fashion industry is a notorious contributor to landfills, and is responsible for nearly 10 percent of global carbon emissions. That’s the equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes being burned or dumped every second.
It’s easy to run back to the Sheins of the world when a shirt is $8, but remember that much of what’s being sold secondhand is just as affordable. The difference: Buying secondhand takes something that’s already in circulation off the market. A dress that’s sold out in your size on FashionNova is probably floating around Depop or Poshmark. And let’s be real — that $8 shirt isn’t better quality than a shirt that’s been worn twice.
Which is best: Depop, Poshmark, or Mercari?
Each member of the holy trinity gets the job done. In fact, many sellers post on all three in order to reach a wider audience.
Poshmark, the OG, has 70 million users versus Depop’s 21 million and Mercari’s 15 million. (There’s also Vinted, which has 34 million users.) The biggest difference between the apps is probably their user bases: Anything that’s big on Instagram will likely do well with Depop’s audience (90% of users are under 26), whereas items targeted toward ages 30 and up might fare better elsewhere. There are gender differences, too: 97% of Poshmark’s users identify as women, for example, while 32.7% of Depop’s users identify as men.
Depop can be intimidating. Of the big three, it’s the app that feels most like a social platform, and with that comes pressure to curate an aesthetic theme, post consistently, and focus on the shop as a whole. The crowd is specific: millennials and Gen Zers who understand internet culture, follow influencers closely, and appreciate vintage looks and full outfit styling.
If you’re getting into thrifting or looking to sell from a niche brand, head to Depop. You’ll have better luck selling a recognizable sweater from Lisa Says Gah than a generic turtleneck from Forever 21. (Be sure to use hashtags, including the brand name and phrases people might search, like #plaidpants or #NWT — “new with tags.”)
Luckily, Depop’s interface is super approachable. The app looks a lot like Instagram — you’ll scroll through a feed showing one item at a time from shops you follow. (You can also search by category or switch to the Explore page for a grid of fresh items, which Depop curates as “the best items from our community.”)
Poshmark and Mercari are more chaotic. Your feed will be full of updates about new listings, but some will only be *vaguely* similar to things you’ve looked at before. Their search features get cluttered, too: Poshmark’s search bar tends to pull up items that don’t quite fit the search terms, and Mercari frequently turns up items that have already sold. Come through, filters.
The Poshmark community’s standards also tend to be a bit looser. Many users are still young and hungry for vintage and designer pieces, but older millennials and members of Gen X might feel more at home here than on Depop. (My mom sometimes gives me items of hers to sell; in those cases, Poshmark is my go-to.)
Poshmark also lacks a way to message other users directly. Personally, I don’t love having a convo in the comment section, but other users don’t seem to mind.
Mercari, for its part, is the place to sell home goods like electronics and decor. Think of it as similar to eBay: a varied marketplace with something for everyone. Mercari is still great for fashion resale, though, especially for things like brand new sneakers still in the box, children’s clothing, or outerwear that still has the tags.
In response to a question about Mercari’s target audience on the Mercari subreddit, Reddit user chibidesigns writes: “I’ve had a lot of success selling random things on Mercari. Sold automatic toothbrush heads within 10min of posting, and sold a lot of old electronics wires I had laying around. Clothing moves, but at a slower pace than what I move on Poshmark.”
Making your listings pop is less work than you think
Starting a successful shop will require some legwork, but follow a few key principles and you’ll be good to go. Here’s what to focus on.
Start with the background. Consider what you, as a buyer, would need to see to feel comfortable buying clothing from someone. Blindingly artificial lighting or a carpet covered in pet hair don’t exactly prove that the seller takes care of their clothes. A half-assed photo could send the message that you’ll be half-assed with shipping or communication, too.
Assembling a makeshift studio is a good move. It doesn’t have to be fancy — think cohesive and presentable, like a nicely decorated corner of your room or a plain wall outside your apartment complex. A uniform look is great, but what really matters is showing that you take pride in the reselling process.
Modeling clothes isn’t a requirement, especially when you’re selling something because it doesn’t fit. But since returns aren’t very common on resale apps, buyers do appreciate seeing what an item looks like on a person.
Alexis Kingdom (@kingdomscloset) essentially runs a Depop empire. She has a following of over 14,000 and has sold over 700 items. But before testing the picky waters of Depop, she used Vinted and Poshmark to learn the ins and outs of pricing and posting. What started out as a side hustle to get rid of old stuff quickly turned into a (not so) small business, where she now sells thrifted items, cool handmade pieces, candles, and crystals. (Check Kingdom’s YouTube channel for an upcoming series on tips for sellers.)
“When I initially started selling, I didn’t even model. I took hanger photos — nice hanger photos — and made lots of sales back in the day,” Kingdom says. “But as soon as I started Depop, I knew that I should be modeling the items because I wanted my shop to be a reflection of me in a way. I feel like being in photos has helped me connect with buyers more.”
There’s no need to drag a friend out for a shoot. The self-timer on your phone can work surprisingly well, but if that makes you feel rushed, a wireless shutter remote and mini tripod will give you more control.
Don’t feel like being in front of the camera? There are other ways to take eye-catching photos. Putting an item on a hanger is a stylish alternative, as long as the background is relatively neutral. (Bonus points if all of your photos have the same backdrop or theme.) Photographing clothes against fluffy white rugs is a popular move, but a good chunk of wood floor looks chic, too. An artsy prop, like a plant in the corner, can add a bit of spice.
Kingdom’s biggest tip for making clothing look nice regardless of how it’s posed? IRON.
Lighting can make or break a photo. Natural sunlight captures colors and textures as they appear IRL and can highlight stains or snags that you may have missed. But if natural light isn’t available, a setup that mimics natural light will be a godsend. (A 5000K light bulb is a good starting point.) Try a Lume Cube, an adjustable daylight lamp, or legit studio lighting with a white umbrella, like Kingdom suggests. If you don’t have room for a whole softbox situation, though, LED video lighting will still make a difference.
Launder your items before selling. Take the time to hang-dry items that can’t go in the dryer, and hand wash delicates that say to do so. (A few drops of Woolite Delicates in the sink will do just fine.) This will help with fading, shrinking, and fabric durability, and could be the difference between “excellent” or “fair” condition.
Basic sewing skills go a long way. SNL fans will remember the skit where Larry-David-as-Bernie-Sanders recommends keeping the little button in the baggie that comes with pants. He’s right: An item with a missing button will likely fetch a much lower price. (When you list the item, note that the extra button will be included with the sale. It shows the buyer you’re responsible.)
As long as you have a needle and some matching thread, you can replace a button or mend a hole. Taking the burden of repair off the buyer can increase the value (perceived and actual) of what you’re selling.
Kingdom agrees. “My eye is better for finding these now, but when I first started thrifting, I would come home with stuff that had big holes in it and was like ‘Oh my gosh, what am I supposed to do?’ But I’d patch them up and make them look perfect,” she says. “It’s definitely very useful to have that skill — knowing how to repair small things like that.”
A measuring tape is another staple. Buyers will almost definitely ask for measurements on pants, especially if they’re denim. And knowing your own measurements is helpful knowledge when hunting for your holy grail vintage Levi’s.
If you’re feeling ambitious, you may want to invest in a sewing machine. This is a must for thrift flip TikTok enthusiasts, but it’s also nice to have one on hand for more involved repairs, like replacing a zipper. (It’s easy, I swear. Buy a zipper of the same color on Amazon and find a DIY video.) You should still tell buyers about the patch job, but it’s better than dropping the “broken zipper” bomb.
Saving your boxes and mailers will save your ass
Do a lot of online shopping yourself? Reuse that Amazon packaging instead of paying for new mailers. I’ve received orders in old Sephora boxes and Target mailers and have never minded, and I do the same myself (within reason — skip the tattered ones). Many buyers purchase secondhand because they value sustainability, so they’ll appreciate a shop that doesn’t let packaging go to waste.
Get familiar with shipping
As TechCrunch writer Ingrid Lunden noted in a 2019 piece about Depop, “buyers generally do not seem to expect the same kind of shipping, tracking, or delivery professionals appearing at their doors” as they would for big-box purchases. They understand that you, a fellow average human, are handling shipping, and are more likely to be chill about it — as long as you reach out and explain any delays.
Almost every resale app works with USPS to create printable shipping labels, which are paid for by the buyer unless toggled otherwise. Poshmark uses a flat shipping fee, while Depop and Mercari offer multiple options based on weight. (Some Depop sellers have noticed that “free shipping” turns on automatically, even when they don’t toggle it themselves. Double check after posting.)
It’s smart to use a kitchen scale to weigh packages and choose a label accordingly, otherwise you risk the post office sending your package back.
Selling fees, explained
Though listing an item is technically free, each platform takes a percentage of your sale to cover other fees.
Mercari pockets the least, only charging 2.9% plus $0.30 for each sale. Depop and eBay charge a 10% flat fee, which seems hefty until you consider that Vinted steals 19%. Poshmark’s fee depends on price, but can get pretty steep: $2.95 is taken from sales under $15 and 20% is taken from the rest.
It’s a hard pill to swallow, but you probably won’t make the amount back that you paid. An item could be new with tags and buyers will still probably need to see a lower price to be convinced to buy from a random person instead of the brand’s official website. See how other sellers are pricing similar items and keep wear in mind.
Dealing with lowballing
At some point, you’re bound to encounter a prospective buyer who offers an amount so low, it feels offensive. A $10 top is already reasonable, but someone will inevitably try to get it for $7 (knowing damn well that, after shipping, you’ll make about $2).
Making offers can be a useful tactic when done respectfully. Some users do make fair suggestions that won’t halve your profit, and acquiescing could inspire an extra-sweet review. If you absolutely aren’t down to haggle, note in the description that your asking price is firm.
The offer feature on Mercari and Poshmark makes it easy to send lower prices to users showing interest in your item. Depop requires you to message the person to make offers, which is extra work but can make for smoother negotiations in the long run.
Remember: Everyone starts with zero followers
Getting eyeballs on your profile depends less on follower count and more on quality photos, quick shipping, and responsiveness to buyers’ questions. Cover those, and stacked positive reviews are likely in your future. Whether your goal is to build a following or simply get rid of stuff you’re no longer feeling, the tips above can help get your items sold quickly — and get that cash into your bank account.