The New Vintage

Social media, specifically Instagram, is changing the game for thrifty consumers and wannabe moguls alike. The app has become the unofficial go-to for savvy shoppers who want unique pieces, but may not have the time or motivation to hit up a thrift shop themselves.

The rise of online shops changes a number of things when it comes to the fashion market. For starters, anyone can start their own resale business with a simple post. Years ago, sites like Ebay and Craigslist were used for basic one-on-one sales.

Now, Instagram and other online social platforms have taken their place and have become popular for millennials and Gen Zers. Many individuals who sell clothes and accessories on IG refer to themselves as legitimate business owners, or would say their Instagram business is their “side hustle.” Even without employees or an on-site business location, thrifters can use the wide reach of social media to gain followers who become customers. Though this defies the typical small business model, it has become a reality for many, especially young entrepreneurs.

Business operations for these accounts are typically done by an individual; one person in charge of pricing and sourcing items, posting sales, answering messages, packaging and sending out orders.

Because of this new marketing platform, shoppers don’t have to look through countless items and go to multiple places to find a one-of-a-kind piece. This new process can be beneficial for sellers and consumers alike. Instead of vigorously sifting through racks of old, out-of-style clothes to find a slice of vintage heaven, consumers can find their perfect piece just by scrolling through their Instagram feed.

Small town shoppers might not have access to some of the larger vintage or second-hand scenes that originate from big cities such as New York City or L.A., but online shops give consumers a route to buy those kinds of items. Rachel Jones, owner of online shop 417 Vintage, says that she travels a lot, so she “tries to source from all over and not one particular city or store.” With the rise of the Instagram resale business comes the access to items that could otherwise only be found in different cities, even different countries.
The accessibility and ease of online thrift stores have created a busy, often competitive market.

So, with all these shops flooding the market at once, how does a shop maintain its originality? How do businesses with the same goals and processes survive in such a crowded online space?

The answer isn’t simple. Aforementioned 417 Vintage owner, Rachel Jones, says the “variety of items, low prices, and wide size range” helps her shop to stand out.

The owner of Tate’s Market says he posts “the best quality and condition pieces... instead of flooding your timeline, while keeping prices nice and affordable.”

It seems like the accounts who perform the best may be those who already had a large following on a personal account. If a business was started after a following is already in place, there is the ability to promote it to thousands of people right off the bat. Without an immediate following, and therefore immediate clientele, it is harder to gain revenue. Some of the largest insatgram resale sites include @thevintagetwin, which claims to be “the largest brand in vintage apparel” and is so highly recommended that the account is Instagram verified, @waiste_vintage, whose instagram bio reads “carefully curated for bohemian dreamers”, and @thriftswavy which is run by a 15-year-old entreperneur. There are plenty of small, local establishments as well. Accounts with tens or a couple hundred followers are common, with a big portion of their following usually being people that the account owner knows IRL.

It’s hard to measure success, considering some account owners utilize their business as a way to make extra cash or fundraise for something specific, while others use it as their main form of income. One thing all these accounts have in common, though, is that they are almost always considered a “small business.” Even for shops with as large as 100k followings, the business is still a more centralized and individualized one when compared to physical, chain thrift stores. Though the benefit of online thrifting is that you can purchase it from anywhere, there are sellers right here in the 417 community earning their keep via online resale. Some local resale instagram accounts include the aforementioned and well-known @springyjeans, @cloudandfox, and@417vintage. Many times, sellers allow you to pick up the products if you live close by, eliminating the cost of shipping but maintaining the ease of online shopping.

Shopping through social media resell is a new market, but it looks like it’s one that’s here to stay.♥

Photo 1 from @springyjeans, photo 2 from, photo 3 from @thevintagetwin, photo 4 from @springyjeans, photo 5 from @thriftswavy.

Camryn Mahnken