How do I buy old new clothes?
November 17, 2007 3:15 PM   Subscribe

Is there any system in place for finding clothes that were being sold years ago by large retailers?

Say I wanted to find a shirt I bought at Urban Outfitters 5 years ago, or maybe I've never had a better pair of jeans than some Mavis from around the same time. What happens at the end of a season when there are unsold clothes? Are they stockpiled somewhere? Can I get access to them? Or do they simply donate them or throw them away?
posted by BlackLeotardFront to Shopping (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
End of season sales, followed by various levels of clearance. You lower the price enough, someone will buy almost anything.
posted by smackfu at 3:25 PM on November 17, 2007

things may just get stockpiled and forgotten. you'll need to scour to find, though.

some friends once ran across a giant repository of menswear from the 1960's in various degrees of usability in an old department store which had gone out of business and was boarded up. sold everything for "authentic vintage" prices and made quite a bit of cash.
posted by patricking at 3:29 PM on November 17, 2007

Here in Boston, Bobby from Boston maintains numerous warehouses full of clothing that they buy in bulk -- vintage and current.

Discounters -- like the venerable Filene's Basement -- had/have arrangements with retailers/designers to buy in bulk the remaining stock of clothing each season. The stock that these discounters can't sell is often bought by vintage clothiers.
posted by ericb at 4:18 PM on November 17, 2007

BTW -- Bobby from Boston is just one of many "shops" to which Hollywood turns when they need era-appropriate clothing for television and films.
posted by ericb at 4:28 PM on November 17, 2007

A while ago, I had some luck scouring eBay for a specific style of out-of-production jeans. The jeans had been unavailable at the retailer for a few years—probably more than one but less than five. I found two or three pairs by searching for the name that was printed on the label inside the waistband (a variant on the chain store's name) and my size. A lot of not-quite-right hits came up, but persistence (searching once every few weeks and then combing carefully through the results) paid off.

There seems to be a brisk trade in the well-known name brands of clothing on eBay; I would think you could find your Mavis there, if you're familiar enough with the specific cut/styling you're after to recognize it in auction photographs. My impression is that sellers are unlikely to know and use the style name or number if it's not prominently featured on a tag in or on the clothes. Searching is easiest if you already have one specimen and you're looking for a match, because you can search for wording from the tags, and of course being able to compare details like stitching and measurements helps to confirm the find.

I realize this isn't the kind of systematic stockpile you were asking about; but then, one could argue that eBay is America's giant collective warehouse for all our slightly-out-of-date stuff.
posted by Orinda at 6:05 PM on November 17, 2007

On re-reading the question (and the title), I realize that you seem to be interested in never-worn articles of clothing and not in used clothes. It's harder to find new, unworn clothes from a few seasons ago on eBay, but there are at least some listings that claim the clothes to be "never worn" or "new with tags" (I think that's what the abbreviation "NWT" means in auction titles).
posted by Orinda at 6:25 PM on November 17, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for your input.... I was hoping for a centralized solution but it seems it pretty much doesn't exist. I've had a little luck with ebay, I'll try a bit harder on that.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:03 PM on November 18, 2007

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