Online thrift stores are growing in popularity as people seek to lessen their impact and save some money. Shopping for secondhand and vintage clothing can be pretty exciting in my opinion and with the world now producing 80 billion new garments a year thrifting helps to upcycle clothes that would otherwise end up in the garbage. Buying secondhand clothing makes better use of our resources. I recommend shopping in opposite seasons, look for winter coats in the summer when everyone is purging their closets and stores have not been picked over.
I’ve put together a list of the best places to shop online for thrift, vintage and second clothing and here is A Complete Guide On How To Buy Vintage Clothing and tips on How To Curate A Second-Hand Capsule Wardrobe. And make sure to read about why buying secondhand matters at the bottom of this post.
Best Online Thrift Stores: Affordable Options
1. READY TO WEAR AGAIN
Ready To Wear Again is an online thrift store where you can buy and sell high-quality secondhand clothing and accessories in new or near new condition. They carry a huge selection of ready-to-wear brands such as GAP, Anthropologie, Old Navy, H&M and more, but at up to 70% off. 10% of every sale goes directly to charities that help women and children. They have a wide selection of kids’ clothing, accessories like hats and bags, there is just so much to choose from. You can find some really good deals in the clearance section. Lots of affordable options here for the whole family. Why buy new? Especially for kids, they outgrow everything so quickly.
2. COMMUNITY THRIFT & VINTAGE
Community Thrift & Vintage was founded in 2011, based in Vancouver, they sell a tightly edited collection of recycled fashion at a low price point. They support at-risk people through their compassionate and supportive work training program, and all their profits are donated to the PHS Community Services Society. They have a beautiful selection of clothing and accessories and they offer plus-size options, which is great. I also love their massive selection of vintage denim. Jeans in particular ace such a massive impact on the planet, I only buy secondhand jeans from thrift shops, there are normally so many options to choose from.
3. URBAN OUTFITTERS URBAN RENEWAL
Urban Outfitters Urban Renewal is all about repurposing and reinventing vintage pieces at affordable prices. They take old pieces and fabrics, dye them, cut them up to make some of the cutest one-of-a-kind items like “vintage Levi’s jeans and recycled denim cut-off shorts, plaid flannel shirts, broken-in t-shirts, vintage dresses and deadstock finds like camo surplus jackets.” I mean how cute are these? Is there some controversy surrounding this brand, but they are more accessible to most people which I think is a good thing.
4. PENNYS’ ARCADE
Penny’s Arcade is located in little Portugal in Toronto, Canada. Their online store offers lovely, unique selections for men and women, they even have an in-house seamstress who can restore garments before they are our up for sale, ensuring quality. If you love vintage Levi’s you will love this shop. Taking care of your clothes, like mending them instead of tossing them is one way to ensure that they last longer, this will help keep them out of landfills.
5. MAMA LOVES YOU
Mama Loves You Vintage is the brainchild of mother-daughter duo Melo and Mahro Anfield. They both love fashion and have worked in the vintage industry for over 20 years. They carry a range of pieces from the early 1900s to the 1990s. They ship across Canada and you can purchase anything you like on their Instagram feed. If you live in the Toronto area, I highly recommend you take a trip to the shop, it’s in the west end and is a chic, quirky spot.
6. GOODWILL BOUTIQUE
This online boutique thrift shop is part of Goodwill Industries, a non-profit social enterprise where the proceeds from items sold at Goodwill stores go to fund job training, employment services and educational programs. Find used items in good condition available for a fraction of retail cost, the end result is those many items being reused, repurposed and recycled. I was pleasantly surprised by some of the cute items that are available on the website. Goodwill relies on donations so much, so if you have clothing to donate this is a good place to start, just make sure you are doing it ethically.
7. CHOSEN VINTAGE
Is an online shop and brick and mortar boutique located in Toronto that sells hand-selected, gently loved, affordable pieces for women as they say “pieces that we hope will inspire you to shop imaginatively and sustainably.” They have tie-dye skills, home goods, and the Chosen Vault, which highly recommend you check out. All the outfits are styled so well and they have the quirkiest names ‘who’s the boss” and “magenta magic“. Love them all! It’s places like these where you find real gems, don’t you just love the thrill of the find, I mean look at this suit!
8. HELLO GEMINI RISING
This cute Etsy shop is located in British Columbia and is founded by Marriki Schlifer. Their vintage finds have been featured on Riverdale, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Trial & Error! So cool and they are known for their highly transitional pieces. They were voted “Best Vintage Clothing Shop” in 2017 & 2018 by New West Record Reader’s Choice Awards. Find the perfect butt hugging of Levi’s, or the flirty floral 1970s wrap dress or even a classic Yves Saint Laurent trench. Shop till you drop while supporting a local small business.
9. DIRTY BIRDIES VINTAGE
I mean the name! Find an eclectic mix of retro goodies from clothing to records to shoes and swimwear they have it all. This Etsy shop has been around since 2008, they have over 42,000 sales and over 11,000 reviews. I also love the fact that you can find casual wear, workwear and party wear. They add items daily and there is a ton to choose from.
10. STARLET VINTAGE
Oh, this is such a stunning little shop in British Columbia. Looking for old-fashion, stylish vintage dresses? Then this place is for you. Their shoe collection is next level too. They, like me, love the ethics of wearing vintage pieces that are often handmade and built-in history. Each piece I’ve seen in the shop offers a real one of a kind personal expression. They have unique wedding dresses and beautiful shoes to choose from.
11. SWAP SOCIETY
Swap till you drop! With this online thrift shop that offers affordable clothing, you will love! They work on a points system where you get equal value for the clothing you swap. You have to pay a small monthly fee and you get access to a massive clothing shop store. They accept all brands so you are guaranteed to find something you love. Founded by Nicole Roberston in 2009 noting that “I learned the sad truths about the fashion industry, I started swapping clothes instead of buying new. With a few small exceptions, I haven’t bought new clothing since!” Choose from two types of membership, Luxe or Basic. Find activewear, outerwear, maternity, intimates, coverups, jeans, shorts and sweaters!
12. PATAGONIA WORN WEAR
If you are an outdoor enthusiast then this is the place for you. Buying a used garment extends its life on average by 2.2 years, which reduces its carbon, waste and water footprint by 73%. (ThredUp, 2018). They cover kids, men, women and gear at super affordable prices. Patagonia has an amazing reputation for sustainability and is a real pioneer in the ethical fashion space. Their clothing is manufactured to last and is mostly made from organic materials like cotton and recycled polyester fabrics. I also love how timeless each piece is, they never go out of style. When you send in your clothing (in good condition) they will give you a credit towards a new purchase. There is also a section on the website called Recrafted which are clothes made from other clothes, so cool. They will also reaper any item you own, no matter how old it is. This company truly brings sustainability to life.
You’ve probably already know about this online shop. They carry over 35 thousand brands from “Gap to Gucci”. The website is an impressive mix of clothing shoes, bags, you name it. Another thing I love about this company. You can take a fast fashion quiz to help you figure out and understand your carbon footprint and how it related to climate change. They worked with Green Story to analyze the “environmental impact of buying garments used instead of new”. They work with Zero Waste Daniel to help you Upclelye Your Closet by offering DIY tutorials showing you how to turn one thing into another. You can even shop the closets of some of your fav celebs. Ultianry this brand is showing us how cool and easy it is to shop secondhand. You can also send your closest to them, sign up, they send you a giant polka dot bag, you fill it up, get cash or shopping credit, you can even donate the items if you want! But what I love the most is The thredUP Circular Fashion Fund which Supports a Sustainable Fashion Future by “distributing funds to organizations and individuals committed to a more sustainable future”
14. THE INDUSTRY
Chib, cool, hip, hot, take your pick, this store has it all. The shop owner clearly knows what she is doing. Each outfit is so beautifully syles you will want to buy them all. Find retro Mini Mouse sweaters. A gorgeous selection of coats….hello winter. Beautiful bodysuits, vintage suits, designer goods like YSL, funky shoes, sunglasses and so much more. I mean look at this dress!
15. CURVY ELLE
Owner Laurel wanted to make her own plus-size focused niche in the fashion industry after working in the New York garment industry. She wanted to make a difference in such a superficial industry and offer “curvy” women great selections. She has a background in fashion design and product development and started The Curvy Elle as an endeavour to do fashion on my her terms and own style. it is now being put to use in my own business endeavour featuring plus size fashion and vintage style! LOVE THIS SO MUCH!
Best Online Thrift Stores: Luxury Options
16. TURNABOUT LUXURY
Turnabout Luxury has been around for 41 years, founded in Western Canada they are one of our largest luxury resellers who pride themselves on decreasing clothing production by offering preloved gems for any fashionista. They hold clothing donations and fundraising events that help support charities across the nation. With a global spotlight on the environmental impact of fast fashion and the urgent need to reduce landfill waste, Turnabout’s concept provides people with an outlet to make cash out of regular closet cleanses. For some, it’s a circular economy whereby they shop in-store with their account proceeds. For others, it’s the challenge of de-cluttering combined with the thrill of receiving a cheque. And for others, it helps address needs like paying bills and funding necessary family purchases. They do offer affordable options, but the luxury department is pretty awesome.
17. LOVE THAT BAG ETC.
Love That Bag etc. strives to make luxury fashion more accessible by offering shoppers a more sustainable way to buy. They sell clothing, bags, accessories, jewelry, you name it. Designers include Prada, Chanlr, Herme, Diro and more. I really love their Handbag Project, you can donate an old bag you don’t use, they will fill it with personal care predicts and donate it to local women’s shelters. They have a very diverse group of staff with each person bringing their unique perspective to the team.
18. MY LUXURY CLOSET
Founded in Montreal, My Luxury Closet offers a diverse range of luxury handbags, apparel, footwear, accessories and jewelry. All of their clothing is curated seasonally. Find designers like Chanel, Gucci and Dior. This is a higher-end shopping experience. They ship worldwide. Every product they sell has undergone a quality assurance process offering you a chance to discover a “range of vintage and contemporary statement styles”.
19. SHRIMPTON COUTURE
Shrimpton Couture is for the vintage obsessed! From its humble beginnings in 2006 with just a dozen or so vintage pieces, Shrimpton Couture has grown to be one of the most respected online shopping destinations for vintage-lovers world-wide. They pride ourselves in sourcing vintage that is still relevant and wearable. They find unreal pieces that are covered by designers, museums, celebrities and countless fabulous women all over the globe. The entire selection is cured by the founder Cherie who says “Clothes are magic…they can transport you from an ordinary girl to the belle of the ball. From an innocent girl to a femme fatale.” While researching for this blog post, I spent at least 30 mins drooling over some of the amazing items they have to offer. I love the fact that you can shop by era’s too, so cool! If you’re obsessed with vintage this online shop is for you. Chose your ear and have fun!
Poshmark is one the largest community marketplace for fashion where you can buy, sell and share your personal style. They have over 60 million community members in Canada and the USA and over 100 million items for sale. You can find high-end treasures like a Chanel bag. They carry everything from belts to bags to backpacks to shoes and even masks. Not only can you buy from millions of people around the world, but you can also sign up to sell your own goodies. They offer virtual shopping parties, and you can comment and share your love of fashion with others. Tennis champion Serena Williams joined its board in 2019 and last year it expanded its marketplace to include home decor. They also do have a ton of really great affordable options too.
Why shopping at a thrift shop matters:
Fashion is big business and the manufacturing process of making the clothing we love has a huge impact on many people in developing nations as well as the planet.
Consider these facts:
17-20% of industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and treatment. The fashion industry uses 32 million Olympic size swimming pools of freshwater every year. It is expected to increase by 50% by 2030. 17-20% of industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and treatment. More than 70 million barrel of oil is used to make polyester each year. Clothing production doubled between 2000-2014. The industry relies more heavily on fossil-based polyester which is now used in 60% of our garments. The fashion industry accounts for 8.1% of the total greenhouse gas emissions. The clothing industry creates carbon emissions of 1.2 billion tonnes per year of our garments.
Now I have your attention! Buying things that already exist in the world helps to reduce the volume of resources we are using to make new things. It’s pretty simple math when you think about it. Yes, there is the shipping and dry-cleaning costs of buying online from a thrift shop, but it pales in comparison when you think about the amount of water it takes to make one tee shirt.
HOW TO EXTEND THE LIFE OF YOUR CLOTHES:
1. Wash your clothes less
We are washing our clothing way too much and this is mostly due to smart marketing from laundry brands. The more you wash the more you need to buy detergent. Undies and socks yes we need to wash those, but jeans can be worn at least 4 times before you wash them. Sweaters at least twice. If you have clothing made from synthetics fibres, odds are they are releasing microplastic into the environment.
2. Line dry your clothes as much as possible
Each time you dry your clothing the heat from the dryer breaks down the fibres, making them less and less durable over time. Line drying our clothing will not only reduce your electric bill it will also help your clothes last longer.
3. Mend your clothes
If a button falls off a shirt, sew it back on, don’t toss it! Did you know this is one of the most common reasons people disregard their clothing? Keep a box of buttons, always save the buttons your clothing comes with and if you don’t have matching buttons then consider replacing them all.
4. Upcycle garments by turning them into something else
Instead of tossing an old worn-out tee, cut it up and use it to make DIY cleaning wipes. Old tee’s make great cleaning rags. Cut up torn jeans and make them into shorts. Make a choker tee shirt or how about a cute pom-pom sweater? The fun is endless.
5. Never ever put your clothing in the recycling bin!
In Canada, Clothing cannot be recycled. If you place your clothing in the blue bin, it will end up in the garbage. Find other ways to get rid of your clothes. Clothing donation bins offer a convenient and easy way to donate clothing, shoes, accessories, bath and bed linens etc. as there are hundreds of bins located across the province in highly visible and accessible locations. Many charities operate these bins so not only do you get to declutter your closet but you are helping to support these charities.
Secondhand and thrift shops are an obvious choice. In Ontario, there are a variety of thrift stores that accept donated clothing, such as The Salvation Army Thrift Store, Goodwill and Value Village. You can find a list of stores near you by check-in out the city of Toronto’s Reuseit Campaign.
6. Stop saying and thinking “I have nothing to wear”
How many of us have said “I have nothing to wear”, when in fact we have a full closet of clothing! I’ve been watching the news and seeing long lineups outside many fast fashion stores. I am so disappointed and at the same time not surprised at all. Fast fashion is addictive. I get it! People have been cooped up and need a little retail therapy BUT understand that that choice comes with a hefty price for millions of garment workers (in developing nations) who face dangerous working conditions, poor wages, sexual exploitation and much more. The fast fashion industry is a modern-day slavery period! These companies earn billions of dollars on the backs of (mostly) women who can’t even afford the clothing they are making for us to wear.
When you support companies like Zara, H&M, Forever 21 etc. You are part of the problem. Don’t get me wrong, I have bought items from these stores in the past, but the more I learned about their impact on people’s lives (and the planet) the less I wanted to support them. If you are in a place of privilege, like I am, you can do it. Being an environmentalist and activist is work! It’s so much more than just a beeswax wrap… it’s a mindset that I choose daily! When I shop, I have to stop and think about where the item comes from, who made it, were they paid fairly for their work, how is the environment being affected? We simply cannot continue down this path. As a white privileged woman, I have a responsibility to do better. We simply cannot continue to shop mindlessly while others suffer.
My wardrobe has changed A LOT in the last 8 years. it’s very minimal, I wear a lot of the same things more than once and even when I am on TV. Do I want to go out and buy pretty new dresses and shoes! YES! I am human. Have I supported the companies in the past yes! But today I choose in the moment to think of others rather than myself. This is really the foundation of being an environmentalist. Think BEFORE you buy. And ask yourself is your choice harming someone?
Do you shop at online thrift shops, drop a comment below and let me know.