Clothing is a great seller on eBay for several reasons:
- Easy to find. Preowned clothing is abundant from a variety of sources.
- Easy to purchase. Inexpensive at thrift stores, garage sales, and sometimes even free.
- Easy to resell. Almost everyone in the world needs clothing.
- Easy to store. Does not take up much room.
- Easy to ship. Is not breakable and doesn't need labor-intensive packaging.
- Easy to make a profit. Some brands sell for over $100 used on eBay.
- Consumable. Clothing actually gets worn out and must be replaced periodically.
- Customers often buy multiples.
- Huge variety of items to sell — brands, colors, styles, and sizes.
In particular, women's clothing is in high-demand and may offer great rewards (profits). With this being said, a new seller might ask, "What brands should I focus on?"
Study, Study, Then Study More
eBay is a business where learning never stops. As an eBay seller since 2003, I have had to keep my skills sharp and learn what is new on the market, as well as what brands have fizzled out. New brands constantly hit the market and will eventually show up on eBay as they are used and then donated to thrift stores for resale. To stay on top of current trends, the successful eBay seller continuously educates him/herself on the latest trends. Easy ways to stay in the know for what's hot on eBay:
- Follow fashion leaders on Instagram.
- Pay attention to what is advertised in fashion magazines.
- Study eBay's completed listings
- If you really want to dig deep into what is specifically trending on eBay, try a one-month subscription to Terapeak. Use this tool to identify hot products, popular categories, and items with high sell-through rates.
With eBay, the one thing you can count on is change. So arm yourself with the most valuable tool possible: knowledge. The more you know about what sells, the more money you can make.
Understand Your Profit Margin
It is never a matter of whether your item will sell on eBay, it's a matter of how much it will sell for. Anything will sell for 99 cents, but that isn't good business sense if you paid $10 for the item. Always, always, always look at the profit you can make before buying to resell on eBay.
Fortunately, there are several eBay profit calculators you can use to figure out what your profit will be. Profit is about what you paid for an item as well as what you can sell it for. You must figure both numbers into your equation.
Anthropologie and Sub-Brands
Anthropologie is an online and brick-and-mortar store that carries trendy, comfortable, and stylish clothing. However, new items are expensive. Millennials love this brand but often can't afford it new. The secret to making money selling Anthropologie is learning how to identify the labels of the hundreds of sub-brands. Most Anthropologie items don't say "Anthropologie" on the label.
You have to learn the sub-brands as well as the look and style of the labels. This brand and its labels have a certain look; so if you are out shopping at thrift stores, look up the item on the eBay Mobile app and determine if it is an Anthro item. Some Anthro items can sell for over $200 in good used condition on eBay.
One easy way to identify an Anthro brand or sub-brand is to look at the tag(s) of the clothing and find the RN#. According to a website called Anthropologie Style Guide,
"The RN is the unique registered ID from the Federal Trade Commission. Anthropologie is owned by Urban Outfitters shares its RN#. As does its sister company Free People which is also owned by Urban Outfitters. All in-house brands produced by Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Free People have the RN#66170."
Some examples of sub-brands include:
- Isabella Bird
- Field and Flower
- Olivia Grace
- Free People
- Girls from Savoy
- Tracy Reese
St. John is not to be confused with St. John's Bay, a JCPenney brand. It is a popular luxury brand that carries significant resale value. From the St. John website:
"St. John is an American luxury house that was founded in 1962 by Robert and Marie Gray. The brand’s simple beginnings started when a knitting machine inspired Marie to design dresses for herself. A fascinating coming together of craft and couture based on the premise of a simple, yet elegant knit dress. Over the years, the brand has evolved, but the basis for the collection remains the same today as it did from the very start — effortless, alluring and refined clothing that appeals to women all over the world. Unique American Design with a core in signature innovative knits and an undisputed reputation for luxury and quality. St. John continues to expand globally and build on the legacy created in 1962."
Some St. John items say Marie Gray on the label to pay homage to one of its founders, Marie Gray. This brand can retail for over $1,500 for a single garment. St. John pieces can sell for hundreds of dollars on eBay. Items to look for include:
Although not nearly the retail price of St. John, Eileen Fisher is another upscale lifestyle brand found at high-end department stores like Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus. Eileen Fisher is a real person who started the brand with $350 and a vision. From the Eileen Fisher website:
In 1984, I started EILEEN FISHER for a very personal reason: I was having trouble getting dressed. At the time I was working as an interior and graphic designer. In my mind I kept seeing these simple shapes for clothes. I knew they had to be beautiful colors, great fabrics and have certain shapes and proportions that worked together. This was my "aha" moment: a system of dressing that I'd been looking for ever since I abandoned my Catholic school uniform back in Des Plaines, Illinois.
Although I couldn't sew and only had $350 in the bank, I believed in these simple shapes. I had four shapes made up and took them to The Boutique Show in New York. Encouraged by $3,000 in orders, I expanded my "line" to eight pieces. The second show brought in $40,000 in orders. Suddenly I wasn't just Eileen Fisher. I was EILEEN FISHER, INC.
Basically, these are beautiful clothes that are easy to wear and look and feel good. These simple outfits are comfortable, come in shades that coordinate easily, are versatile, and can be worn in casual settings or the boardroom. Retail prices for Eileen Fisher items can be as high as $500 for linen jackets. The resale prices on eBay are excellent.
Ralph Lauren Black Label
Most people know about Ralph Lauren, but did you know there are different levels of quality and price? That's right, there is a whole rainbow of Ralph Lauren clothing labels to know about. Green label is the lowest price point, then blue, Purple Label, and Black Label. Chaps, Polo Sport, Polo, Lauren Jeans, and Lauren Ralph Lauren are also moderately priced. So let's talk about the Black Label, the Holy Grail of the Ralph Lauren line.
The Black Label is for women's apparel and is the most expensive. The equivalent of the Black Label is the Purple Label for men. Retail prices are off the charts — this brand is truly for the affluent and stylish buyer for whom money is no object. A basic little black dress (LBD) can retail for over $1,000. A black winter coat retails for $2,500. A basic black wool knee-length skirt retails for $700. Very expensive indeed!
This brand holds its value well on eBay. Comparatively speaking, there are fewer RL Black Label items than Anthropologie, Eileen Fisher, or St. John; so this label may be a needle in a haystack to find.
eBay can be your oyster. The key is to learn to be a better picker, understand the brands, and what the labels look like. Then, when you are sorting through the thousands of items on the racks at thrift stores, the money makers will jump out at you.