Best way to sell assortment of fine vintage clothes and items?
June 25, 2013 9:32 AM   Subscribe

I have a small assortment of rather choice* vintage clothes, textiles and miscellany. I would like to sell it all. I'm already eBaying a large volume of other stuff, I am an average photographer with an average camera and honestly, eBay doesn't seem like the best place to sell these things - a couple are rare collector pieces. What are some good ways to do this besides eBay and what are your experience of them? Also, how can I figure out what is a reasonable price if I do sell to a dealer? I'd be glad to hear from you as a dealer or as a skilled amateur.

I am willing to balance ease and profit - I don't have to have the most lucrative method, although if selling to a dealer means getting pennies on the dollar, I'd rather not do that.

These are all beautiful things that I collected over the years just because I saw them at good prices. I've come to realize lately that it's a shame to have them sitting boxed up instead of being worn.

*Here's what I've got in case it helps:
-Fifties Dior department store (not couture) pink duchesse satin party dress, no flaws except staple punctures from the thrift store tag, maybe never worn (Saver's, $5.99 back in the nineties)
-Incredible mod Bendel's silk shift dress
-Hanae Mori "lit match" print wool suit from the seventies
- Large-size unusual fifties atomic print cotton dress
- Four or five really choice fifties and sixties vintage dresses and jackets in beautiful shape, wools and silks in nice colors and unusual styles, silk linings, unusually fine beading, etc
- Four or five less-good dresses - a couple beautiful but with minor flaws, a couple perfect but cheaper construction
-Some nice separates - fifties full silk skirt, designer blouses from sixties and seventies
-Four or five unusual fabric handbags in perfect condition
-A couple of nice vintage velvet and silk opera coats, one in a large size
-Worth Belle Epoque winter coat in wearable condition
-Three perfect vintage cashmere coats from fifties - seventies, two in unusual colors
- Three plus-size vintage (sixties) wool coats in nice colors and patterns
- Two thirties flamenco shawls, machine embroidery
- A few other pieces of vintage lace and textiles
- A small selection of nice mid-century glass and ceramics, almost all signed by firms or designers
posted by Frowner to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Where are you located? There may be an auction house near you that handles textiles; if you're anywhere remotely near Philadelphia, I would recommend Andi Charkow. I've been to one of her textile auctions, and was surprised by the prices she got-- there are serious buyers there.
posted by nonasuch at 9:42 AM on June 25, 2013

I sent you a Mefi Mail message.
posted by pullayup at 9:54 AM on June 25, 2013

I can't get to their website right now, but have you tried Via's Vintage in Uptown?

Maybe you can go there to scope out what their prices are like, and figure that they would offer you 50% of retail?
posted by sparklemotion at 9:58 AM on June 25, 2013

There are some Facebook groups that are populated by serious buyers and collectors, self-policed as well as well-moderated and where things sell at a good clip. Just perusing the page you could get an idea of what items are selling for, and join and list yours. I like them because there's fresh merchandise daily, no fees and you can often work out lay-aways, trades and if you're buying a few items, combined shipping. Just be sure to read the page policies - there are some quirks. Great photos aren't as important as thorough and detailed measurements and noting any flaws. Figuring out shipping to different countries is the part I like least, and beware that customs and brokerage fees often affect buyers in other countries, so some do offer items as US or UK only - but you get better prices if you ship overseas, especially around an event. PayPal works, though ETransfers can be arranged too. I find this the happy medium to wanting to find great things I can't easily get locally: All the fun of shopping internationally from nice people without the quirks of Etsy and the fees and flakes of EBay.

Ooh La La Frocking 20s 30s 40s 60s 70s 80s Vintage Swap & Sell
is one group, and Ooh La La! Vintage Swap and Sell Shop is the strictly Mid-Century group.
posted by peagood at 10:21 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

I know people do sell higher-end stuff on Etsy, but you'd probably need to establish yourself and get some good buyer ratings on lower-priced items before people would be willing to buy something very expensive from you. However, if you put your items up on Etsy at "reach" prices while you pursue another avenue, it would at least get the pictures out there (Etsy seems to index pretty well in Google searches) and if someone buys something, all the better. It would probably be worth finding a talented photographer friend-of-a-friend and paying for a couple hours of their time -- good pictures don't just make your items look good and catch browsers' eyes, they make your operation look more professional overall.

If you end up doing something online, come back and link in your profile! I would love to see this lit match print.
posted by ostro at 12:23 PM on June 25, 2013

I saw this store on the Smithsonian channel. This lady isn't kidding with the prices she's charging for vintage duds.

The Way We Wore®

I'd give her a call to see if she's interested

The Way We Wore
334 S. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone: 323 937 0878
Fax: 323 936 6578

You may only sell a couple pieces this way, but if you get 50% of what she's could seriously be worth it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:59 PM on June 25, 2013

Seconding Etsy- I pretty much do all my shopping for vintage on Etsy these days. List some cheaper items first so you can get your ratings up, before putting up the most expensive.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:43 PM on June 25, 2013

+1 "Etsy"


it's a shame to have them sitting boxed up instead of being worn

eh, if they are carefully stored, they are not...they are not sitting there going out of fashion. Sit on them for a bit longer and they will start to turn into museum pieces.

Etsy is also a good venue these days for looking at prices for "comparables" -- beware of aspirational prices that do not reflect reality, but, having been on eBay, you already know that -- there are quite a lot of dealers on there now, with a good number of interesting pieces turning up on a regular basis.

(50% of retail is a good goal for selling on consignment; I don't know that it's realistic to get half when selling outright)
posted by kmennie at 2:03 AM on June 26, 2013

Etsy is an excellent place to sell plus-size (which in our terms would be size 10 and up) vintage. That stuff is VERY hard to find in larger sizes, as women back then tended to be shorter and smaller. I'm trying hard not to ask you for the measurements for the Atomic Print dress...

I've bought vintage glasses frames from Etsy purely because my big-ass 21st century head makes shopping for frames in vintage shops a fool's errand. Large-size original clothing is even rarer.

I'd also try The Fedora Lounge, which sounds like a Reddit sub-forum but is actually a place for vintage 'lifestylers' - people who dress in vintage all the time. If the buy and sell forum is not a great place for you, there will certainly be people who can date pieces and advise on where to sell local to you.
posted by mippy at 7:18 AM on June 26, 2013

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