thredUP: Is An Online Thrift Store Too Good To Be True?

thredup

Hey Everyone, hope your week is going well for you during the doldrums of winter. I feel like no matter how many sunny days we get, it is not quite enough to chase away the rainy day blues this time of year… I am starting to understand Snowbirds… So to comfort myself I did a little retail therapy on thredUP!

Anyway! I was recently on IG and an add popped up for an online thrift store called thredUP. Now this wasn’t the first time IG has shown me ads for consignment stores, but normally those are smaller independent ones from my area. They have thousands of brands, varying qualities and all the “latest” trends according to them. But I am totally into a thrift store option that doesn’t require me thumbing through hundreds of racks of clothes searching for that one perfect piece… I have never been a treasure hunter, just a green shopper.

Facts

According to Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART), 81 pounds of textiles per person are thrown away annually, and nearly 95% of used clothing and textiles can be reused or recycled. That is almost 15 million tons of used textile waste in the US alone, and they aren’t even close to other nations who’s economies are largely based in garment production. If you would like to know more about how textiles are recycled and reused, I highly recommend reading through the FAQ page on SMART’s website.

thredUP homepage

So, I spent some money for us so we can have an unbiased look at this service that thredUP offers which claims to reduce textile waste and make consignment shopping easy. They do have an ambassador system, but you know me, I won’t put my name behind something unless I have tried it.

The Process

I have fully documented the process for you all so you can see what I am talking about. This includes screen shots of the website, items I chose, and how a description of how to go about using thredUP.

So how I did this test is that I set a $100.00 budget – which didn’t turn out to be $100.00 in the end, and you will see why at the end. Nonetheless it wasn’t too bad.

Shopping

The thredUP website is much like any other online retailer except in one respect. In order to limit how much scrolling, you need to do, they ask you to sign up for an account which keeps your sizes on file. This mini survey asks you top, bottom, and shoe sizes then pre-filters all the clothing in your sizes.

Then like with regular online shops you narrow your field to different types (shirts, sweaters, dresses, etc.) or by colour, by brand/designer, skirt length, neckline, material, and even by level of wear/condition (new with tags, like new, gently used, signs of wear). They also have a premium section which has brands like Prada, Vince Camuto, Michael Kors, Armani, & Kate Spade. In this section it’s not uncommon to see a $1300.00 dress on sale for $350.00. The most expensive items for sale in the premium section today was a $7760.00 dress by Roberto Cavalli on sale for $1784.00 and a Tom Ford coat originally $9900.00 on sale for $2499.99. So, if you think thrift shops are for poor people, think again.

Premium items on thredUP

Personally, I chose to shop for the most part by brand and need. I chose to shop by specific brand because it would ensure that I would know how the item would fit more or less. For example, I know I typically fit a size small top, 27 pant, 6 shoe, and 4 dress from Banana Republic, so I was comfortable ordering items from those brands. The brands I targeted were Anthropology, J. Crew, LOFT, Banana Republic, PrAna, Lululemon, Nike, The North Face, Patagonia. Brands I didn’t find were PACT, Aritzia, and Encircled.

LOFT t-shirt from thredUP

For the test I did my best to order one thing from every category condition. I ordered 6 items: a unbranded jumpsuit (signs of wear), Banana Republic knit dress (gently used), PrAna capris (like new), We The Free/Free People sweater (new with tags), Banana Republic blouse (like new), and LOFT t-shirt (like new). Prices were fairly reasonable, and the “new with tag item” from Free People was labeled $69.99 and I only paid $18.99.

List of thredUP items

In total, I spent about an hour shopping. It was easy to find things I liked, and the one thing I didn’t order that perhaps I should have, was a pair of jeans. However, those are so difficult to fit for my body that I didn’t feel like taking on that struggle – oh the woes of doing too many squats. I did agonize over a silk Anthropology top, but I decided that I can’t own nice things like silk, so I declined it.

Once I paid for my purchase it said 5-7 business days. For signing up I received a 20% discount and paid a whopping $26.00 in shipping. They calculate the shipping based on weight of the clothing, so it isn’t a flat fee. The fine print also said that it may be subject to duties, but I ignored it… and was unpleasantly surprised to know that I owed $22.00 in duties when the package arrived yesterday. So, I did end up going over my budget unfortunately and I still don’t really know how duties work, because it seems like roulette whether if you must pay it or not…

The Box

thredUP box image by Photography By Marlow

So, like I said, although I like the second-hand economy for it’s environmental and economic benefits, I hate the way thrift stores smell. Can’t. Stand. It. So immediately upon opening the box I braced myself and took a large whiff. I am so happy to report that it didn’t smell like thrift store at all- just kind of like laundered clothing that was put in storage for the winter.

All the clothing was nicely folded and wrapped in tissue paper, making it feel like you were shopping from one of your favourite retailers. All the clothing inside seemed to be well pressed or ironed and none of it had any significant wrinkles.

Results

Alright, so how was everything? Fairly great to be honest. I would say the quality or condition of the clothing was significantly better than I expected. The unbranded jumpsuit was the “worn” item and it was in great condition. All the buttons were present, the fabric was solid, and didn’t show any signs of significant wear other than being prone to wrinkling. I am also not sure what kind of fabric it is as the tags are missing, so I have no idea if it is supposed to look like that.

The grey cotton Banana Republic dress did have a very minor coffee stain on the skirt, but I washed it with regular detergent, and it was almost completely gone when I pulled it out. I showed it to the hubs and asked him if he could see the stain and he reassured me that it wasn’t visible. Beyond that, the fabric of itself is in great condition without pilling or stretching. The close-up image below is before washing it.

All the other items labeled as “like new” were exactly just that. Looked new just without the tags on it. Additionally, I tried on all the items and they fit well.

So, was it too good to be true?

Well, I think it is good option for those thrift-store-phobes like myself are looking to add some pieces to your wardrobe. With most pieces 70-80% off, it is easy on the pocket book and the styles available were current and trendy. I recommend that either you shop with intention, meaning you know you need a specific piece like a blouse for work. Or if you are more of an inspired shopper, dedicate a little time to scrolling or utilize as many filters as possible. This is because there isn’t any shortage in choice, which is both a blessing and a curse. I will be definitely be shopping on thredUP again, especially for specific items like dresses for weddings, tops and dresses for work, and perhaps I will try their accessories one day!

Tell me what you think! Will you try out thredUP? Have you already? Let me know what your experience was like.

Cheers and happy shopping guys!

Heather

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