Used clothes. What to do with them?

May 26, 2009 at 12:25 am 1 comment

So you have clothes you no longer wear and you want to know what to do with them? I’m a big believer that everything we have can be reused, so don’t you dare dump them! You have three options within reuse… donate, sell or swap. Read about my experiences and advice about each below…  (including vital “How to sell clothes on TradeMe Tips”)


Most people just have a clearout then chuck them in the clothing bin. First off, you should know that only a small percentage (roughly 5%) of the profits from the Textile Recycling Centre (i.e. most of the clothing bins and pink bags throughout the country) goes to charity. Personally, I don’t agree with this. People think they are donating it all to charity, however, this is not the case. If you’re going to donate them, why not use to locate an organisation that can use them. Or alternatively, locate an op shop who will sell them, such as the Salvation Army Family Stores, Red Cross or Hospice Shops (all in the Yellow Pages). These are run by not-for-profit organisations rather than a business, meaning more of the proceeds make it to benefit a good cause.

It’s tough times and we’re all struggling to save that last little dollar so resale may be on your mind. My advice – TradeMe all the way!


I have pursued most options in terms of professional clothing resale in New Zealand. Designer Boutique was the biggest waste of my time. I sent in 10 gently loved, designer items (i.e. not Glassons, we’re talking Carly Harris and Top Shop here), as they requested. Within a week I got a notification stating they were accepting 3 of these. The other 7 had to be collected within a week or else they would be given to charity. Grumbling, I obliged. In regards to the other three, after 6 weeks (their sale term) 2 sold and one was left at the store, again I had to pick it up in a week or else it would be donated to charity. Lucky I happened to have rung up to check on the status of my items that day, which was the last day before donation, otherwise that would have been the last I saw of that skirt. After 3 weeks I received the sum of $15 in my bank account for the 2 sales. What a waste of time! Following this, I put the 7items on TradeMe, and less costs, I made over $150 with them.

Aside from the Designer Boutique, I have tried the following and learned the following:

  • Most resellers will take a minumum of 50% commission of the sale of your goods
  • Double Exposure : must be very high fashion in very good condition to even look at it
  • Second to None : Had more success selling things here and better service, still could have got more on TradeMe myself
  • Ball dress resellers : must be in pristine condition otherwise price is sliced (if they will even accept it)

All and all, when you take it to these places, you end up feeling like a beggar trying to pawn their wears in desperation as they discern your items with the most critical of eyes. Often this is followed with a “We don’t sell clothes like that in here”. Yes, I understand their position (I’ll take my once worn Carly Harris top elsewhere then, hrrmph!)  but overall it’s not the most pleasant experience.

Personally, I recommend you want to sell them, do it on TradeMe! You’re selling to a market of thousands of people New Zealand wide and best part, you can do it all from your own home, minus the rejection and don’t have to share the profit with anyone!

Yes it can be laborious at first, but trust me, it gets easier and is well worth your time. I regularly help fund any new additions to my wardrobe, with the sales of things I no longer wear.

For some handy tips, I’ve listed how I sell clothes on TradeMe:

  1. Snap photo (lying flat works well for clothes, lay down a light coloured sheet if possible?)
  2. Write down details of it on refill (label, size, colour, material)
  3. Upload photos to computer. Bulk resize to 1000×1000 using Windows Power Tool located here if you’re on XP
  4. List on TradeMe using standard format, an example below:
    “Label = X, Size = X, Material = X
    Please see my other listings for other $1 reserve auctions
    Any queries just ask”
  5. Standardise postage rate to $3.50, which covers pretty much any small package and is a fair rate.
  6. Add on gallery (get 85% more bids) and list
  7. Click “Sell similar item” and adjust category and details to new item

To save yourself a whole bunch of time, always make sure automated emails are turned on and accept payment only via bank transfer and pay now. Don’t do pick ups. Simple as!

Pricing wise, it’s all a numbers game. If you are not in a hurry to sell your clothes, set the price you want. Be prepared to relist several times and to drop your price each time.

Personally, I prefer to do batches every few months of $1 reserve auctions. It can be nerve wracking, yes, but overall, if you do it right, you should receive the same prices in way less time and effort. The best way I have found to make these work for you is to list everything (yes, everything!) on this and ensure you mention this in the standard text of every listing, prompting people to check out your other stuff. Then people will browse through the whole lot, rather than just the one item.

Tips for the more advanced….

  • There is a program called Auctionitis you can use. I found it took longer than what I did though, it’s great for commercial sellers who list the same thing over and over.
  • I use a bulk mailing program (there’s free ones out there like Mail Chimp) to contact people who have bought from me before to let them know I have listed new stuff. It seems to work, as I have heaps of repeat buyers and lots of thank yous!


It’s a new fad worldwide… Clothes Swaps – Schwops – whatever you call it, it is fun and a great chance to catch up with friends and score some new threads in the process.

The way we run our clothes swaps, is about 4 times a year, about ten girls get together with the clothes they no longer wear. Each person holds up their stuff and things are divvied out. Then a big try on ensues. Items contested go to the one who suits it best! And everyone is happy at the end of the day. We do two things with the clothes which aren’t claimed to new homes:

  • Sell 2-3 good items on TradeMe to pay for nibble at the next swap!
  • Donate all others through DonateNZ to schools, playcentres and charities who can use them.

You don’t have to do it the same way we did. There are lots happening around the world. Big public ones are the best as there is a huge range of stuff! Keep an ear out for them happening in your local area. Here’s an article FashioNZ published about how to have one.

Whew, this took a while to write. I hope you find it useful and helps you towards a fabulous new wardrobe, minus the strain on your wallet, the economy and the environment ! Next week I will be publishing my tips on how to shop for clothes on TradeMe, stay tuned…


Entry filed under: Re-use.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Meg  |  May 26, 2009 at 1:04 am

    You can also recycle the fabric to make new clothes.

    For example, you can felt old jerseys to make warm woolly pants for babies and toddlers, turn t-shirts into shopping bags, crochet rugs from strips of old sheets, use old towels for reusable baby wipes . . . with a little creativity anything with a bit of life left in the fabric can be reused. Check out some of the great recycled clothing stores at for inspiration!!


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