I have a confession to make. I am a man, and I buy used clothing online. This might not strike you as odd (it shouldn’t, if you’re an aspiring reseller), but the majority of people we meet are surprised to find out that not only does used clothing sell extremely well online, but that most of the top selling clothing brands on eBay are men’s! But wait, isn’t it women that love shopping? Well, yes…maybe. That is, there are a lot of women that DO love shopping. Couple that with the fact that most clothing resellers are women, and you end up with an eBay marketplace that literally has 10x the amount of women’s clothes as men’s clothes listed. Even with the massive influx of new sellers, if I want to buy a pair of used Levi’s in my size (511s, 34×36, preferably black) there are currently only 3 used options available and the cheapest is $25.50!
So if you want to set yourself apart from the gaggle of basic resellers who make less than a part time wage on eBay and stall their business for years on end… quit heading to the women’s clothing racks! I can guarantee that those who insist on heading straight to the women’s workout apparel and sweater racks so they can find Lululemon and Free People stuff will continue to see their businesses shrink over the coming year or two. While the men’s clothing market may eventually reach the saturation level of the women’s market, it is currently a ripe plum to be picked! (Get it? picked?)
We currently have about $60,000 worth of clothing listed on eBay. Each year, it generates more than $60,000 in profit while growing our business! If you have a computer, a little ingenuity, and a place that sells used clothes nearby, it is within your power to create a second income, get out of debt, travel, or even – if you want – build a full-time, thriving business! All on the back of someone else’s used long-johns. Well, maybe not quite. But you get the idea.
In the circles of resellers that we hang out in, people are staunchly divided: either you sell mainly clothing, or you sell mainly hard goods. While I absolutely love hard goods (and they account for more than 40% of our profit), ignoring clothing is foolish in the extreme. In fact, if you are running a reselling business, ignoring ANY brand, item, scrap of information, etc. that can give you an edge and increase your profits is foolish. While some sellers preach that you should choose a niche and stick with it, we find that it’s helpful for most resellers to keep their options open, particularly if you are counting on eBay to provide a living. The more selective you are about the type of product you sell, the more likely it is that you leave the thrift store empty handed.
We recommend that new eBay sellers start by selling things they have around their home, but once that source of inventory is exhausted, clothing is typically a good first step into the world of buying for resale. Why clothing, you ask? Well:
- It’s ubiquitous. Clothing is everywhere and everyone needs clothing. You would think that this would mean the market is saturated, but that is far from true. The more people there are, the more unique tastes exist, and the more likely it is that there is a buyer out there who wants your specific piece of thrift store-found clothing.
- Clothing is easy to store. Our first storage unit was 10 feet x 15 feet. In addition to storing a ton of personal belongings in it (we had a tiny apartment at the time), we stored almost 1,000 items of clothing there. Unlike hardgoods, clothing is relatively uniform in size and shape once it’s folded, and can easily be stored in baskets or totes.
- It’s cheap and easy to ship. Clothing can be had for a pittance at yard sales, thrift stores, liquidation auctions, etc. If it doesn’t sell, you can always re-donate it and find something else. Good luck finding another business that you can start today with less than $20 and no technical skills.
- Clothing fulfills the perfect “side hustle business model.” Perhaps you are not like most people, but when the majority of people start a business or side hustle, they need three things: a business that is cheap to start, easy to understand, and has the potential to provide instant profits. If you become adept at recognizing some of the top selling clothing brands on eBay you’ll be able to start profiting within days or even hours!
If none of that lights your fire, maybe entrepreneurship and reselling are not for you. I’ll be the first to admit that it takes hard work and dedication which not everyone is willing to give. However, if you’re here, you are probably one of those action-takers who is ready to start making money (or maybe you already are and want to make way more money!) Whichever of those groups you are in, if you are still reading, let’s talk about the first step in recognizing profitable clothing!
So What Makes Used Clothing Valuable?
When I first started selling on eBay, I was super excited to find a heavy leather trench coat at a local thrift store. While I’m not really the trench coat type, I thought that someone would love it for sure, and despite the mediocre brand, bought it for $14.99. Six months later I was finally shipping it. It had generated absolutely no interest in the time it had been online and had finally sold for $19.99 when I put it on auction. Shipping it was expensive and after all my work, I barely managed to break even. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was violating one of the most basic rules for reselling clothing: BRAND IS KING. While there are some items that can sell without a brand (cashmere for example, or unique one-off pieces), the fact remains: people love brands, and people search for brands. No matter what level you are in the reselling game, learning new brands is the fastest way to level up. Trends change, there are only so many exotic fabrics to learn, but the infinite number of brands in the world means that the more brands you know, the more your business will grow. Let’s talk about 47 of the best brands to sell on eBay:
“Well, I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and civilize me and I can’t stand it. I been there before.” – Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Territory Ahead makes “Quality Casual Clothing,” meaning shirts, pants, shorts, and shoes.
What to Look for: The best sellers in the used market are bright and colorful button-down shirts. Particularly in the heavy textured cotton that is so characteristic of the Territory Ahead brand. Also keep an eye out for tall sizes, as they are typically harder to find and, therefore, more valuable.
Profit Potential & Market Outlook: The market for The Territory Ahead can be hit or miss. I’ve had shirts sell overnight for $40 and others that have taken a year to sell for $20. If a shirt is interesting and cheap, definitely pick it up, list it, and forget it.
Most Common Label:
Ermenegildo Zegna is a luxury brand that was launched in 1910 and remains one of the best known Italian brands.
What to look for: Zegna is a dedicated menswear designer that creates business and business casual looks. The most common items we find are dress shirts, but also keep an eye out for dress slacks, polo shirts, blazers, and even full suits. You’ll need to be checking tags, as the company does not have a style which differentiates it from the hundreds of other business casual items on the racks.
Profit Potential & Market Outlook: The market for basic shirts and items has dropped off a bit because of new sellers low-balling the price to move inventory. If you have a nice item, take nice pictures and price it high. The more current an item is, the better it will sell. Older/vintage Zegna items have not done well for us.
Most Common Label:
Filson is a privately held, Seattle-based company that manufactures outdoor goods and clothing. It was founded in 1897 as C.C. Filson’s Pioneer Alaska Clothing and Blanket Manufacturers to meet the needs of prospectors passing through Seattle on their way to the Klondike Gold Rush.
What to look for: Filson is a high-end outdoor brand which specializes in wool and canvas products. As can be expected from a company with a logo like, “Might as well have the best,” their clothing can be very expensive, running $500-600 for a coat. Keep an eye out for their characteristic red and black buffalo check (similar to Pendleton’s), and for leather/canvas bags. Filson also makes belts, hats, and other men’s accessories.
Profit Potential & Market Outlook: Anything Filson will sell fast and for great money. The market has not felt the effects of saturation and there is a ton of money to be made in Filson items from thrift stores, yard sales, and even store outlets.
Most Common Label:
Carhartt is a U.S. based company that is still owned by the founding family, despite having revenue of more than 600 million dollars annually!
What to look for: Anything Carhartt will sell, but you’ll make the most money from their signature canvas workwear. Look for jackets, vests, and (to a lesser extent) pants. Anything vintage or Made in the USA is a great seller as well.
Profit Potential & Market Outlook: While it’s not exciting, most of the best brands to sell on eBay aren’t. The majority of Carhartt items on eBay are underpriced. Get a good idea of how much your item sells for new and then price it at 50-75% of MSRP.
Also, don’t avoid Carhartt items that are dirty, stained, or have logos. People generally want beat up Carhartt items for one of two reasons:
- There is a “breaking in” period for new Carhartt items where they are typically stiff and uncomfortable. Buying used bypasses this.
- They don’t want to be the guy at the construction site with the brand new shiny work jacket. Rugged and used speaks volumes about “work ethic.”
Most Common Label:
Schott NYC was founded by two brothers in 1913 in (surprise) New York City. They have several claims to fame, including:
- Being the first company to put a zipper in a jacket
- They made clothing for the U.S. Air Force during WW2 and, later, for law enforcement
- The latest claim to fame is the “Perfecto” motorcycle jacket which is named after Irving Schott’s favorite cigar
What to look for: Keep your eyes open for all forms of leather jackets including moto jackets, bombers, greaser jackets, etc. The most valuable jackets are shearling bombers from WW2, and we often search Craigslist and other local avenues for them to flip on eBay.
Profit Potential & Market Outlook: Excellent. Items are getting harder to find, but if you source them intentionally (rather than wandering thrift store aisles) you will find them. Expect to pay up, but the pay-out is typically worth it.
Most Common Label:
Founded in 1830, Woolrich is the oldest manufacturer of outdoor wear in the United States. The original purpose of the company was to buy furs from trappers, but they soon branched out to wool milling. They provided clothing for soldiers during the civil war and several expeditions to the Antarctic. Now, the company’s production has been significantly downsized and moved overseas, but vintage items are still plentifully available in thrift stores.
What to look for: The best Woolrich items are vintage work-wear items and current jackets/coats. We skip any ugly jackets or blasé, earth toned fashion items from the 90’s. Look for items made of canvas, denim, or leather, typically lined with the characteristic red and black plaid wool.
Profit Potential & Market Outlook: The market for low level Woolrich items is now non-existent due to market saturation. The clothing brands that sell well on eBay are typically either currently fashionable or at least hard to find. Luckily, in this case, the current fashion trends, however, have resulted in a huge demand for the style of clothing Woolrich manufactured pre 1980. If you see it, grab it!
Most Common Label:
Loudmouth Golf is a relatively new and small company, founded in 2000 by a former graphic designer. Despite their young age, their golf attire has been worn by some of the greats in the game and are desirable for parody as well as serious play.
What to look for: If you see something on the rack that is an assault to all your senses, you should probably be checking it out. That is the way I have typically found Loudmouth Golf items – seeing extremely lurid and loud prints in shorts and pants, and then checking inside the fly zipper for the brand tag.
Profit Potential & Market Outlook: Loudmouth is only growing in recognition and desirability. Items seem to be getting a bit more common at thrift stores, but the market doesn’t show signs of getting saturated any time soon.
Most Common Label: