The idea of wearing pre-loved clothing isn’t new to me. While I don’t have any older siblings, I remember being given some amazing pieces of clothing by my aunts and close family friends while I was growing up, and I never for once imagined there was anything demeaning or shameful. These items of clothing were always in excellent shape, and in turn, some of my own clothes were passed on to younger cousins in the family. So when I came across a couple of Indian Instagram accounts that were selling pre-loved items of clothing (among other things), I decided to give two of them a shot: The ReLove Closet (based in Chennai; ships pan India) and The Dog Pile Thrift (based in Bangalore; currently only services Bangalore).
What to look for when shopping for pre-loved items from Instagram stores
Announcement of new ‘drops’ via Instagram Stories
Almost all stores I’ve tracked tend to post a few hours on their stories before they actually start posting a new set of items. Some stores tend to use the countdown function so that you can get Instagram to send you a reminder at the right time. This announcement usually includes a sneak peek of the items that will be up for sale (perhaps even the size range available) as well as the time the first post for the day will go up. This typically gives you a heads-up, since you know when the right time is to “arrive” at the Instagram profile and start looking at the items available.
Garment size vs actual dimensions
Since brands almost always have different standards of measurement for S, M, L etc., some of these Instagram stores detail out the what the size is on the label as well as the actual bust, waist, hip and length measurements. I find this effort incredibly useful, since label sizes can be deceptive. There’s a higher likelihood of me giving a product a second look if I notice the measurements roughly match mine even if the label says something else.
Specification of condition
Another important detail in posts thats likely to impact a sale! Almost all stores selling pre-loved items make it. a point to tell you about the state of the item: for example never worn, gently used but in good condition, has a minor stain near the neck etc. These details help you decide if there’s an issue you can live with, maybe get fixed after purchase etc. Having said that, I think a large part of how much you enjoy shopping for pre-loved items will depend on your comfort level and trust in the curator’s decision to list something for sale. It’s highly unlikely that anyone would intentionally put up a severely damaged item for sale and risk deceiving a customer!
Comparison of original price and selling price (if available)
Who doesn’t love a good deal? One of the most important reasons why shopping for pre-loved items is gaining popularity is because it makes shopping a little more affordable (aside from the obvious benefit of extending the life-cycle of a garment). I’ve seen some items from recognisable brand names like Zara, Guess, The Label Life, Van Heusen etc., go for amazing prices – sometimes for upto 50% or more off. When possible, stores add the original amount paid for the item so you can fully understand how sweet the deal really is!
Item availability & booking process
As stores begin to gain popularity, so does the likelihood of something you really like getting sold to another buyer quickly. You have to act fast if you have your heart set on something. Once you go through all the pictures + all of the factors discussed above and you’ve made your decision, you need to DM the post of the item to the store and tell them to book it for you. If you’re the first person to claim it, they’ll usually tell you to make the full payment (and shipping charges, if any) within a certain period of time. Until you make the payment, the item is booked for you but if you don’t transfer the money within the stipulated period, the store will change the status of the item to available again. Look out for the store’s Instagram stories to see which items are available from previous drops!
Hashtag organization for size, availability and more
Some stores selling pre-loved items have started adding branded hashtags to items to help buyers ‘sort’ more easily. These hashtags typically comprise of the stores name or initials + a category like ‘available’, ‘xs,’ ‘shoes, ‘ ‘bags’. Clicking on this hashtag will present you with every item that contains that hashtag. So if you want to see older items that are still up for grabs, you might want to use one of the store’s organization hashtags.
So, what has my personal experience been like so far?
I’ve had a really good purchase experience so far with both stores that I’ve mentioned. In the images below, you’ll see me wearing the tops I’ve bought – the blue one from The ReLove Closet and cranberry-coloured one from The Dog Pile Thrift (my first time attempting to ‘model’ so be kind!)
I really like the way both of stores use sustainable packaging material (no plastic, only brown paper + blotting paper + string), and they both leave a little handwritten note inside each package. Given that we are living in strange pandemic-hit times, both ensure that your item is sanitised before you receive it (the squeaky-clean force is strong!). I also really like the fact that both offer items beyond just apparel! Just like with any other online shopping experience for apparel, I’ve sometimes underestimated sleeve sizes etc., so you need to be prepared to deal with the fact that even if all the measurements specified seem perfect, you might find things a little too tight or loose, here and there.
The two stores that I bought from also have their individual strong-suits – here’s what I loved about each:
The ReLove Closet
The ReLove Closet delivers across the country and take care of shipping (they tell you what the shipping cost is to your location and add it to your total before payment) so logistically a very seamless experience. They are also very meticulous with their item descriptions, and take the extra step to add measurement details. I’m also very impressed with their hashtag organization game – they have a sticky post in their highlights that details out all the hashtags they use so you can go back and browse through available items according to size really easily.
The Dog Pile Thrift
The Dog Pile Thrift is very new and currently only Bangalore-based, but I absolutely love how cause-aligned they are! 100% of profits go to the rescue, rehabilitation & treatment for street dogs and cats. They post stories about animals they’ve been able to help as well as a detailed account of how much was collected and where it was spent. I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to contribute to something this amazing AND get something out of it in return? Well, thats just an amazing bonus!
Have you shopped from any stores in India selling pre-loved items on Instagram? If you have, drop your recommendations below so that I can check them out. I’d also love to know if you intend to buy from either of the two Instagram stores I’ve mentioned in this blog post!
(All images are mine and cannot be used without my permission)