If you’re interested in buying and selling clothes on Etsy, here’s what you should know.
When you think about buying clothes online, Etsy probably isn’t the first site that comes to mind — the platform is typically associated with handmade goods.
However, there’s a surprisingly large clothing marketplace on Etsy, and if you know what you’re looking for, you can find some really unique items.
In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about buying or selling clothes on Etsy. Is it worthwhile? Are the clothes good quality? What should you be wary of? I’ll answer all of those questions and more.
What is Etsy?
Etsy is an online e-commerce platform that focuses on handmade and vintage goods.
Since its founding in 2005, it’s gained a reputation for having highly unique items, usually made by individual sellers. (It’s essentially the online version of the craft fairs my mom used to drag me to).
Since Etsy has both handmade and vintage wares, you can also find many secondhand and deadstock items.
Like all other e-commerce platforms, Etsy has a fair amount of dropshipping stores, but it’s also home to loads of small makers, many of whom use Etsy exclusively.
How to Buy Clothing on Etsy
First of all, a disclaimer: Since Etsy isn’t a dedicated clothing marketplace, buying clothes on the platform isn’t the easiest process. However, if you know how to navigate the site, you can find truly one-of-a-kind items.
The first step to effective clothes shopping on Etsy is understanding what the platform has to offer.
Clothing on Etsy can be split into three main categories:
Handmade garments: Many sellers offer handmade clothing that’s either offered in set sizes or made to order. (That said, many sellers are happy to make the clothes to your specs.) The quality can vary here, so make sure you read reviews.
Typically, handmade garments will be identified in the title, and the seller will usually list available measurements in the item description. If it’s a made-to-order item, then you’ll find information about ordering in the description.
Editor’s note: I’ve found that Etsy is a great place to find quality, handmade leather goods. For instance, among other things, I’ve had two harness leather belts custom-made for me very inexpensively.
I’ve worn the oldest one almost daily for the past 4 years or so.
Vintage items: Many of the vintage pieces found on Etsy are items that are hard to find elsewhere, and you can pick up some really cool clothes this way.
Most of these clothes will have “vintage” in the title, though the best way to identify an item as truly vintage is to look at the photographs.
Dropshipped clothing: Unfortunately, there’s a lot of mass-produced clothing on the platform. Some of these items are obvious, but others are quite tricky to identify. Even worse, some of the more devious listings will have “vintage” or “handmade” in the title.
When identifying misleading listings, check the photos, reviews, and country of origin. If a listing has what looks to be professionally shot photos and comes direct from China, it’s likely to be a dropshipped item.
Here’s a common example of a dropshipped listing:
All in all, you’ll likely have the best experience if you focus on vintage clothing, but many of the handmade items are also worth browsing through. However, if you’re looking for brand-new menswear, then you’ll probably want to head to Grailed or eBay.
Now that you know what to expect, let’s look at how to shop for clothes on Etsy.
Browsing Etsy for Clothing
Like other clothing platforms, Etsy is most useful when you use search filters. However, Etsy’s filters aren’t nearly as intuitive or useful as other platforms’, so it can take a while to get used to.
As with buying clothes online in general, it helps if you start with a pretty specific search term. From there, you can click the filters tab to bring up the full list.
One of the most helpful filters is the category filter. That’s because other filter options will change depending on what category you choose.
For example, if you select Shirts & Tees under Men’s Clothing, then the chest size filter will show traditional sizes like M and XL.
However, if you get more specific and select the Oxfords & Button Downs subcategory, the chest size filter will now show chest measurements in inches (e.g., 38, 44, etc.)
Depending on the parent filter, you can access pretty specific subcategory filters like collar style, closure type, pattern, and more. This is by far the best way to get accurate results, and while it’s a little annoying to have to navigate the filters, it is nice to have the ability to find specific features.
It’s typically helpful to use the most relevant filters, though it also doesn’t hurt to expand your search. Still, you should still be on the lookout for dropshipped listings masquerading as authentic ones.
How to Sell Clothing on Etsy
To effectively sell on Etsy, you should be up to speed with general best practices. Our guide to selling clothing online covers everything you need to know.
When it comes to Etsy specifically, however, there are some limitations to what you can sell.
The biggest limitation is that clothes need to be either handmade or vintage (which Etsy classifies as 20 years or older). This means no clothing that’s been produced in the last two decades, which does severely limit what you can sell.
That said, Etsy is a particularly good platform for selling vintage items, so if you’re looking to offload older clothing, you might have more luck on Etsy than on other platforms.
In terms of fees, Etsy is different from its competitors. You pay a $0.20 fee for each listing, and when an item sells, you’ll get a 6.5% transaction fee plus a $0.25 payment processing fee. Here’s the full list of fees.
Etsy also uses offsite ads to advertise products, and all sellers are opted in by default. (You can opt out as long as your total revenue is less than $10k/year.) You pay an additional 15% fee when you make a sale through an ad.
For shipping, Etsy provides the ability to calculate shipping costs. You can also manually set the shipping price. That said, printing your labels via Etsy allows you to save up to 30%.
Finally, consider Etsy’s international audience when selling clothes. Etsy has a much more global audience than most other clothing marketplaces, so you need to account for that.
Etsy’s knowledge base has information for both US vendors selling internationally and global vendors selling both domestically and globally.
Pros and Cons
Here’s a short overview of the pros and cons of selling clothes on Etsy.
- Great platform for vintage items
- Unique, international audience
- Low listing fees
- Clothes have to be 20+ years old or handmade
- International shipping can be tough to deal with
- Some categories are extremely competitive
In short, it’s a pretty mixed bag. The pros are excellent, but the cons are significant. Whether it’s worth it for you will depend on the items you want to sell.
FAQs About Etsy
Still have questions? Check below for answers.
Who Can Sell on Etsy?
As long as Etsy Payments is available in your country, you can open an Etsy shop. Here’s the full list of countries eligible for Etsy Payments.
Is Etsy Trustworthy To Buy From?
Like all other secondhand marketplaces, Etsy is only as good as its sellers. The platform itself is legitimate, but you’ll want to research each seller before buying.
What Should You Avoid on Etsy?
If you’re after high-quality clothes, we recommend avoiding buying from dropshipping storefronts. As always, exercise caution with any big-ticket items.
Can You Get Scammed on Etsy?
Yes, you can get scammed on any marketplace with individual sellers. See our guide to buying clothes online for more info.
Are Etsy Clothes Good Quality?
Quality varies widely depending on whether the item is handmade or vintage. Most vintage pieces will be good to fair quality, though there are many deadstock items. The quality of handmade clothing will depend on the seller, so be sure to read reviews before purchasing.
Should You Buy and Sell Clothes on Etsy? Here’s What We Think
Etsy isn’t a one-stop shop for clothing, but it’s excellent for one particular scenario: buying and selling vintage clothing.
Etsy has a lot of vintage picks that just can’t be found anywhere else. If you’re into heritage brands or workwear clothing, then Etsy has a lot for you.
The handmade options are nice, but many of them don’t provide a good money-to-value ratio. If you’re wanting to get tailored garments, you’re probably better off going through an established made-to-measure company.
Although Etsy isn’t a platform you’ll regularly visit, it’s a good platform to include if you’re after older, more unique menswear.
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