I laid eyes on my first designer handbag when I was five years old. I was over at my friend's house, and she asked me to go grab her Prada purse in the other room. I didn't know what Prada was, but when I saw it written in a triangle logo on a black pochette, I knew I had, as they say, secured the bag.
Fast-forward 20 years, and I now live with the "It"-bag carrying kindergartener, who recently retrieved the nostalgic nylon piece from her mom. At first, there was a question of whether she should sell it, since the '90s accessory has become somewhat of a must-have item again, and there is much money to be made off its revival on the resale market. But, she decided the mini purse still has more memories in store, so she refuses to part with it.
This isn't always the case with adolescent treasures though, and often what we splurged on three — or even 13 – seasons ago is simply taking up coveted closet space. Pro tip: If you haven't worn it since Kylie Jenner had natural lips, then it's time to get rid of it.
Fortunately, the growth of resale has made it easy for us to clean out our wardrobes in an environmentally-friendly way, and the droves of people who drank the Marie Kondo Kool-Aid made it trendy for us to tidy up. Plus, who doesn't want to make some extra cash that can be used towards new warm-weather wares?
We spoke to experts in the secondhand clothing industry to find out which products and brands have the highest resale value this spring, and what you can do to make sure you get top dollar for your pre-loved goods. Read on for their tips.
Care for your items
This seems obvious, but before you resell any gently-worn clothes or accessories, you should wash or dry clean them and check that they are free of stains, rips and other defects. ThredUp's Merchandising Manager Lindsay Martinsen says the resale site triple-checks for quality and only accepts about half the items sent in. "Make sure brand labels remain intact, and try to store your footwear and handbags in boxes or dust bags to keep them from getting unnecessarily dusty or dirty," she explains. "While infrequent washing is better for the planet, be sure to stain stick and launder as needed to keep clothes looking fresh."
Carmen Lopez, the CEO and founder of Current Boutique, says there are a bunch of "secret weapons" you can use to prolong the life of your clothes and improve their resale value. "Every household should have a sewing kit, steamer, tide pens for spot cleaning and a fabric de-piller to bring items back to life," Lopez notes. In terms of general washing, Lopez advises washing your clothes in cold water on a delicate cycle with a protective mesh bag and then hanging them dry to prevent unnecessary wear and tear.
Luxury fashion, however, is a whole different ball game: "If there is a stain, you need to treat it quickly and with reputable cleaners that handle quality pieces and understand how to treat various fabrics," What Goes Around Comes Around's co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, Gerard Maione says. "It's also important to keep items stored in a climate that is not too hot and free of moth potential with possible cedar for cashmere and wool." What's more, handbags and leather goods should stay stuffed for support and in a place not stacked or rubbing against others. It helps to have a trustworthy leather refurbisher on-hand as well, in case wear does exist at any point of usage.
Buy quality clothing to begin with
"Think of your clothing and accessory purchases as an investment," Lopez says. "A quality piece and luxury brand won't lose its value on the market, which means you can resell it after you're done wearing it." Lopez specifically points out that items made of natural fabrics, like cashmere, silk, cotton and linen, tend to last the longest.
According to ThredUp's 2019 Resale Report, brands like Frye and Patagonia, which emphasize the quality construction of their garments, have the best resale value. Dr. Martens, Hunter and Toms also rank at the top of ThredUp's list of labels with good resale value, along with leather backpacks by Kate Spade and crossbody bags from Madewell. And among the site's small luxury offering, Burberry, Versace and Gucci stand out for their exceptional quality over the years.
But over at the Rachel Zoe-loved vintage shop What Goes Around Comes Around, Maione says products from Hermès, Chanel and Louis Vuitton hold up the longest: "Their craftsmanship, quality, innovative design and brand affinity stand the test of time."
What to consign this spring
According to data from The RealReal, trench coats are in high demand, with shoppers specifically gravitating towards Burberry's classic iteration. New suiting — think unexpected styles and colors — is also a coveted item for the luxury consignment shop, with the demand for the power-wear almost doubling in 2019.
Spring off-duty staples, like bright maxi dresses, mid-length skirts and jumpsuits, are among other top-selling styles on the resale market, along with wedding guest attire. Martinsen says cocktail dresses from Self- Portrait and J.Crew, rompers from brands like Diane von Furstenberg, as well as flow-y finds from Anthropologie and Free People are popular with ThredUp's consumers.
"This spring, fashion is a little more fun than in past seasons," Martinsen says. "We finally left the world of neutrals, and it's all about bright colors and wild prints. People are also playing with other special details like ruching, pleats, ruffles and even bows." Similarly, Lopez says this season Current Boutique is looking for "fun prints, polka dots, stripes, florals and pastels," in addition to light, layerable items made of cotton, linen or silk.
In terms of luxury fashion, Balenciaga, Celine, Chanel and Gucci are the top clothing labels to consign now: The RealReal reports that the resale value for Gucci apparel is up 5% this year, Celine is up 20% and Balenciaga is up 40%.
Pre-mobile phone mini purses — the tiny ones that only carry a lip gloss and some loose change – are having a moment. So, it's worth taking a minute to dive into the depths of your childhood closet to see if you have any mall-purchased baby bags that made you a cool girl in sixth grade, or to see if you have any early iterations of a Kate Spade satchel; Carmen Lopez says she's seen sales for Kate Spade increase since her passing and that people search for her cheery accessories on a daily basis.
The real money, however, will go to those who have mini designer bags, like the Dior Saddle Bag. The resale value for this early aughts "It" item is up 70%. Plus, it helps if you're acquainted with a chic octogenarian, because there's a spike in the demand for vintage Chanel carryalls.
Kering's cash cows Gucci and Saint Laurent are also making big bucks on the consignment scene, as the demand for their leather goods is twice as high on The RealReal in 2019. The secondary e-tailer is also seeing an increase in demand for Balenciaga, Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Prada.
A decade ago, the idea of literally walking a mile in someone else's shoes wasn't a desirable one. But with the Carrie Bradshaw-era Manolo Blahnik more popular than ever, and with fashion-conscious, urban-dwelling women unable to pay their rent and afford designer footwear at the same time, shoes are reselling like hot cakes.
The top styles to consign now are sneakers, square-toed shoes and classic Manolo Blahniks, according to data from The RealReal. Resale value for Manolo's is up 5% this year as the '90s resurgence continues, and resale value for Gucci shoes is up 5% as well. Chanel is also still trending in the fancy footwear department.