Most men spend a lifetime trying to copy the wardrobe mastery of Steve McQueen, James Dean and Kurt Cobain, yet few turn to clothes from eras when those icons actually lived.

Far too often, the good things about vintage or second-hand – nabbing the odd bargain, shopping ethically, finding a one-off nobody else has – are marred by generally exorbitant prices, ugly shop interiors and rails packed sardine-like with merchandise that was bad in its day, let alone now.

But it needn’t be this way. This is where online ‘consignment’ stores (an American moniker for second-hand or discount) come into their own. Ever wondered what happens to all those forgotten gems, old season stock or instant sell-out collaborations? More often than not, there’s a good chance they can be tracked down on the internet.

With heritage styles all over the runways at present, there’s never been a better time to become acquainted with authentic, second-hand designer menswear. Here’s how to do it right.

Where Do I Start?

Second-hand and vintage clothes can be sorted into several camps. True vintage consists of items from the 1990s and earlier (mostly the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s). Second-hand clothing refers to pieces usually from the late nineties onwards, which have been owned by one person and is being sold on. Lastly, off-season means a retailer that sells new but old season or end of line designer goods.

Generally, websites tend to deal exclusively in one of the three, though some do manage to tick off several at once.

As is the case anytime buying clothes new or old online, there are some potential pitfalls that planning ahead can help avoid.

Guidelines And Tips

A few caveats before you start browsing the recommended stores below:

  • Particularly when buying vintage and second-hand clothes, size is often the biggest snag. Standardised sizes change over time, so a medium today and two decades ago can be very different. Know your measurements – this can be done by taking a tape measure to your body or by measuring existing pieces. From there, use sites that offer full measurements or a size guide.
  • Along the same lines, as a general rule true vintage items will be cut looser and boxier. Prioritise fit in the shoulders (especially when it comes to suit jackets and coats) and a tailor will find it significantly easier to correct the rest.
  • Online auction sites like eBay are a solid first stop when hunting for vintage and second-hand clothes. Better yet, use websites such as FatFingers to find listings that contain mistakes or misspellings to better the chances of picking up something that cost £99 for 99p.
  • Be wary of counterfeits. To avoid getting stung by a pair of Pommon Crojects sneakers or Ray-Berry sunglasses, always buy from a site that authorises items before selling them on.
  • Consider wear and tear. It may be appealing to buy a vintage white T-shirt to channel that Rebel Without A Cause look but chances are it’ll be more ‘Rebel With Yellowed Armpits’. Regardless of era, fabrics deteriorate over time, so shop smart.
  • However, don’t be put off by minor scuffs, tears or stains. There are plenty of great tailors, cobblers and leather repair shops that can make a vintage bargain look brand new again.
  • Similar to shopping the sales, go in armed with a hit list. To avoid coming away having spent a month’s rent on something that’ll only be hot for a further season, identify gaps in your existing wardrobe and buy accordingly.
  • Minor repairs such as a lost button are easily carried out at home or by a professional, but make sure the buttons aren’t overly unique or it’ll quickly turn into a costly job.
  • Scout out surplus stock shops. Plenty of brands and retailers, such as Office, Superdry and Boohoo shift excess stock directly on site or through platforms like eBay.

Recommended Stores

ASOS Marketplace

A combination of shoppers selling items from their own wardrobe and the online arms of established boutiques and vintage stores around the world, ASOS Marketplace has a huge following. The platform uses a similar system to the main ASOS site, so customer service and delivery are as professional as you’d expect from the online giant.

With reasonable prices, a vast selection and an easy to use search function, it’s the reliable bread and butter option of the online vintage world.

marketplace.asos.com

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FarFetch Vintage

Independent boutiques are a great way to scout out premium pieces direct from the specialists.

But who’s got time to do that? This is where FarFetch comes in; the platform consolidates e-commerce for smaller stores all over the world and with a dedicated vintage section, it’s a way of landing a far-flung rare find without the expense of a plane ticket.

farfetch.com

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Grailed

Think women have a monopoly on shopping? Think again. The go-to site for internet-savvy hypebeasts, Grailed is the peer-to-peer selling site that enables hardcore menswear fans to scoop up limited-edition sneakers and one-off collaborations without needing to queue round the block.

grailed.com

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Vestiaire Collective

Regularly referred to as the eBay of the luxury world, this French designer resale site offers more than 600,000 premium items from the worlds of clothing, accessories and even fine watches. There are new arrivals every day, and better yet each is manually checked for quality and authenticity to weed out counterfeit clobber.

vestiairecollective.com

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Hardly Ever Worn It

Up there with the list of reasons for being friends with a celebrity is being able to raid their wardrobe on the regular. That’s the aim of Hardly Ever Worn It, a site that has an anonymous VIP section selling A-lister’s designer goods at a fraction of the price. You won’t know whose it was mind, unless you do a scratch-and-sniff.

hardlyeverwornit.com

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Rokit

What started as a market stall in the edgy London area of Camden in 1986 has since grown to comprise four UK locations and a painstakingly organised online store. Packed with everything from denim jackets to designer suits, the edit sometimes skews a bit hipster, but as far as vintage mainstays go, it’s one of the best.

rokit.co.uk

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Depop

A cross between eBay and Instagram; Depop users take and upload images of their pieces before fielding offers from potential buyers. The buzzy e-commerce app is awash with 1990s, old-school sportswear and international sellers listing hard-to-find designer items. Found a seller you like (Shaquille O’Neal and Foals’ Yannis Philippakis are both on there)? Hit the follow button and get to their cast-offs before anyone else.

depop.com

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A Guide To Buying Vintage & Second-Hand Designer Menswear

A Guide To Buying Vintage & Second-Hand Designer Menswear

The cast-offs worth coughing up for

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