How to save and make money through fashion
By Chloe DeLullington
Students like looking good. With endless venues trying to entice the hottest and best dressed punters through their doors, and the resultant club photos ending up all over social media, fashion has never been so important to the student experience.
Unfortunately, even high street prices seem to be rising all the time, and although many places do a student discount, this is usually just between 10 and 20%, and often only on full-price items. For the discerning fashion-conscious student, there are other ways to not only save money on outfits but, in some cases, also make a bit of money back.
This is an obvious one, but there are ways to maximise your charity shopping experience.
Firstly, shop around. Charity shops in the middle of towns, near shopping centres or high streets, are often pricier than those more hidden away. Googling the charity shops in your area is important to help you find the best bargains.
Once you’ve scouted them out, check the labels of the clothes. Some shops have flat rates for items, and others will have a price list according to label. Flat rates are often more desirable for broke students; I’ve picked up items from Jaeger, Dolce and Gabbana, and Tommy Hilfiger in charity shops for under a fiver, and sometimes for as little as £1, all in excellent condition. If you spot an item not to your taste or in your size, but which you think is a really good deal, snap it up and list it on eBay for slightly more than you bought it for (more on this in a bit). Menswear and plus size designer items often sell for significantly more.
If you’re particularly charitably minded, you can also volunteer at the charity shop for a CV boost and a sneak peek at the items. Some offer employee discounts on items, but this is a rarity. It still means you get first dibs on items you like, however, and is of course all for a good cause!
It’s often hit and miss with selling petite or regular sized womenswear, as there is so much of it listed on eBay, so if you want to increase your chances of selling items, buy plus size womenswear and menswear, designer collaborations also sell really well (i.e. Balmain for H&M). If you’re selling multiple similar items, be sure to write in the description that buyers should check out your other listings, and consider combining postage for multiple items bought by the same person. This is especially useful in November and December as some buyers like to bulk-buy clothing as gifts.
You can also maximise your chances of making a sale by ironing the items before photographing them in natural daylight (top tip: a pair of straighteners works as a budget iron for small items such as t –shirts if you don’t own an iron!), and entering a detailed description.
You are also more likely to sell if you list them on Thursday evenings around 8pm, for ten days, so they end on Sunday evening. This is when most casual buyers will be browsing.
See our guide to selling on eBay for even more tips.
Depop is slightly different to eBay, and prices can be set a little higher. There is room for negotiation on prices, but there’s no recommended 99p start limit as there is on eBay. It’s also a better site to use if you’re into more niche labels, customisation, or upcycling. For example, if you have an item you’ve added patches, beading, or any form of embellishment to, you can list it as customised (avoid saying handmade, as that’s false advertising) and ask a higher price for it. Denim and bags are good items to start customising if you’re a beginner, and Topshop sell customisation patches which are often in the sale section of their website, reduced to as little as 50p each, making it an extremely lucrative, low budget starting point to a customisation business.
Another option for making money on Depop is upcycling, Again, denim items are good for this, although shirts also work well. Sleeves can be used as phone pouches, purses, or bags, and large shirts can be turned into dresses without too much effort. The other positive of upcycling is one item, such as a battered denim jacket or faded oversized shirt, can be used to create multiple smaller items.
These are a little more difficult to locate, but worth it if you do find one!
Sometimes local hubs like community centres, churches, and town halls will run clothing swaps where you take a certain amount of good quality clothing items and can leave with up to the same number of items you donated. Sometimes they are advertised on boards outside the venues themselves, or on community boards in local supermarkets.
If there are none near you- and it’s worth noting that I’ve only seen two advertised in my time at university- the alternative is to suggest it to your Student Union as a uni-specific event. The benefits to students, both social and financial, are significant, and, as ever, if there is nothing you’re specifically interested in buying for yourself, look on it as an opportunity to source more clothing to customise, upcycle, or just sell straight on.
On the high street H&M offers a clothes recycling offer where if you hand in a bag of old clothes (any brand) at the till you’ll get a voucher for £5 off a £30 spend.
Happy moneysaving, fashionistas!