When it comes to the world of online consignment shopping, there is perhaps nothing scarier than placing your trust in a total stranger, namely one who promises to sell you a special, name-brand item that you’ve paid generously for. We’ve spoken directly about some of the most popular resale sites of the moment before—we’ve used their expertise to better inform our purchases and have taken a closer look at their processes in order to choose an outlet we can trust. But this time, we’re taking a different approach and have gathered the intel from you.
We asked Who What Wear readers and regular consignment shoppers to fill us in on which sites they feel are truly legit. Surprisingly, only a few of the most popular names came out on top—Poshmark and TheRealReal were clear favorites. However, the biggest findings included not only where readers love to score vintage and consignment pieces, but also their insights on what to look for and know before placing a bid on anything. Perhaps it’s no big surprise: Our readers are very informed shoppers.
Ahead, we’ve compiled their best pieces of advice—including the sites they say are the real deal—to help us all be a bit more knowledgeable the next time we’re tempted by a photo of a vintage handbag.
It should go without saying that the quality of photos plays a huge role for shoppers looking to purchase any item secondhand, but the savviest spenders don’t just take them at face value. “I've only ever purchased resale via Poshmark and eBay,” says Gabrielle Eriquez from Virginia. In the case of Poshmark, she tells us, she feels especially confident in purchasing because of the community the app creates.
“You can easily communicate with the seller and ask them to post more photos of the item,” she continues. “I personally will only purchase if the seller has posted pictures of their item (versus a stock photo of the item from the brand website) and includes pictures of the front, back, brand label, and any wear and tear. The more description the seller gives, the more I trust the listing and the more I am willing to purchase.”
Furthermore, Sammy Pong, an avid accessories buyer from Malaysia, encourages women to open up the conversation about the products they’re interested in. “Ask as many questions as you need about tears, discolorations, scratches, etc. because most of the time, the resale website has only so much space to list them down,” she advises. Perhaps it takes a bit more time, but “always enlarge the photos and scrutinize every angle,” she suggests.
Valerie Michaels is not only an avid resale shopper but a seller, as well. She tells us she’s personally a fan of Tradesy. “They are great about removing counterfeits, and they have an excellent return policy,” the Pennsylvania reader says. She also advises that customer service should always be a priority and tipoff as to whether a site is legit.
“One time I purchased a high-end designer backpack, and I knew as soon as I received it that it wasn’t authentic. The leather was vegan, the logo was off, the hardware was incorrect. I contacted the selling site and opened up a case, including several photographs to support my reasoning. My return was approved within a couple hours. The selling platform didn’t let me get taken advantage of. At the end of the day, there is no better way to build trust in your business. It’s all about quality, customer service, and trust.”
One of the common themes among our readers is that buying a luxury resale item is most beneficial when you’ve done your own personal research. “I sell secondhand luxury clothing, bags, and accessories. Like any expert, I spend a lot of time studying! I try to know everything possible about the brands I carry,” says Michaels. “Is the zipper sewn in the right direction? Is the stitching correct? Is there anything that doesn’t add up, anything at all? Even the smallest detail can give away a fake.”
Other shoppers, like Julieta Cardena of Mexico City, says she appreciates the in-person experience to help guide her bigger purchase. “I trust Luxury Garage Sale because they have an online store but also a physical one they opened up a little bit ago in Minnesota,” the former Minnesotan tells us. “They tend to get items from boutiques that had an overstock but also from other fashion addicts like me! In order to authenticate, they train all their employees on designer brands and what to look for.”
Plus, for the most studied shopper, someone like Ashley Brown of Texas, this knowledge will also keep you on the lookout for other brand details that are not quite as commonplace. For instance, when the purchase comes with all the proper bells and whistles attached. “I like that they include the original dust bag and box with most of the items,” she says of her purchases on The RealReal, her most trusted site.
Hear us out: We understand the stress of seeing a perfect vintage Céline bag on a resale site only for it to disappear within mere minutes. But there’s reason not to look away, even after it’s sold. “I love that all sold items have a Waitlist option,” Pong tells us of The RealReal. “Any customers buy and return items that don’t fit, so in case we missed something, we will get instant updates of any items made available again. This is especially important for anyone who collects vintage; once you lose something, it may be years until you see another one!”