In such a fast-paced world, consumers are always looking for a bit of nostalgia to help ground them. As a result, vintage clothing has become one of the top-selling categories for e-commerce resellers. Not only does vintage clothing harken back to a simpler time, but it helps consumers avoid the pitfalls of purchasing eco-unfriendly “fast fashion” clothing items.
However, vintage clothing can be expensive, even for resellers. If you know exactly what you are looking for—like a top from Versace’s 1982 spring/summer collection—be prepared to shell out top dollar for a single item. In order to maximize their profits, many resellers have turned to buying wholesale vintage clothing, but it isn’t always easy to find wholesale retailers.
If you want to know where to buy wholesale vintage clothing and how to do so, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s what you need to know before you buy wholesale vintage clothing.
Though it tends to be cheaper in the long run, buying wholesale vintage clothing in bulk can be a bit trickier than shopping for individual items. These are a few things to consider before you start shopping to resell:
Pin down your niche and know your customer base.
Just like any brick-and-mortar business, as a vintage clothing reseller, your buying decisions should be informed by your target demographic. Typically, your target demographic will be a result of your e-commerce shop’s niche, and simply saying your niche is “vintage clothing” is not specific enough.
Perhaps you focus on Gunne Sax style dresses from the 1970s or cool, printed tees from the 1980s and 1990s, or perhaps you do both! It’s fine to offer a varied selection, as many vintage clothing resellers simply specialize in the things they like.
However, when buying wholesale vintage clothing, you need to keep in mind who you are intending to sell to, as well as your own knowledge. When you know what your customers are like and what they are interested in, it will be easier to find what and where to buy vintage wholesale clothing.
Make sure you can tell a genuine vintage item from a fake.
For vintage lovers, there is nothing worse than purchasing an inauthentic item. Though the majority of wholesale vintage clothing retailers take great pride in authenticating their pieces, you need to ensure that what you’re buying is the real thing, as some items may slip through the cracks.
The difference between “real” and “fake” vintage clothing varies depending on the type. For example, most authentic vintage t-shirts feature a single stitch, while modern t-shirts use a double stitch. You will need to do your research about vintage clothing items in your niche, such as comparing genuine tags, brands, and construction styles.
Understand vintage clothing sizing.
If you have ever gone shopping in the women’s department, you know that clothing sizes are not consistent across the board. One brand’s size 6 may be another brand’s size 2! This lack of consistency is even more evident when shopping for wholesale vintage clothing, as clothes were generally much smaller in the past, becoming tinier the older they are.
In general, vintage clothing sizes are roughly four sizes smaller than contemporary sizes. For example, a size 14 dress made in the 1960s is likely closer to a size 8 today. These differences are not as stark for more recent vintage clothing—like those made in the 1990s—but it is especially evident in items manufactured in the 1980s and earlier.
Additionally, vintage clothing sizes will vary depending on where the items were manufactured. For example, a size US 6 is a UK 8 and an IT 42.
For this reason, you should always consider the manufacturing date and country of origin when it comes to sizing. You wouldn’t want to purchase a wholesale vintage clothing order in bulk in the wrong size, only to realize nothing will fit your customers.
Set your budget and stick to it.
Unlike shopping for individual pieces, buying wholesale vintage clothing often requires a steep financial commitment. The majority of wholesale vintage clothing suppliers have minimum price requirements for each order, which can range anywhere from $200 to $1,000 depending on the shop. Your vintage clothing is an investment, but don’t accidentally go into debt buying in bulk!
Where to Buy Wholesale Vintage Clothing: In Person and Online
Once you have pinned down your niche and done your due diligence on authenticating and sizing vintage clothing items, you are ready to start buying! There are numerous venues to find wholesale vintage clothing, but it will take a bit of research to find the best place—or places—for your e-commerce shop. Each wholesale vintage clothing seller is a bit different, so some may fit your niche better than others.
If you’ve ever gone to the thrift only to balk at their prices nowadays, you’re not alone. Luckily, thrift outlets have yet to succumb to the inflated prices at their regular stores. Unlike typical thrift shops, thrift outlets require you to do a bit more digging to find vintage gold, as their clothing is usually thrown in bins rather than hung neatly on racks.
If you are prepared to spend a full day searching through bins full of clothes, a thrift outlet is one of the best places to buy vintage clothing at wholesale prices. By shopping in person and picking each item yourself, you avoid the extra fees incurred by shopping online and having items selected for you. However, you may find more trash than treasure at a thrift outlet.
It may seem counterproductive to purchase wholesale vintage clothing on the same websites you intend to sell them on, but marketplaces like Ebay, Depop, and Etsy are great places to do just that. Rather than posting individual items themselves, sellers on these marketplaces offer bulk, wholesale vintage clothing with the intent of peddling their wares to resellers.
This is a wonderful option for those who aren’t keen on the idea of sorting through the bins themselves, as wholesale vintage clothing sellers on e-commerce platforms have already done the hard work for you!
Vintage clothing is a unique niche in the sense that these items change hands often—many items have been loved by many owners before moving on to the next. For this reason, vintage clothing sellers have created some of the best networking systems on social media. You can find a number of Facebook or Poshmark groups dedicated to vintage clothing sellers (like this one), trading pieces that didn’t sell in their shop or didn’t fit their target demographic. Since these sellers bought these pieces at a loss, they sell them for reasonable prices, making it a great place to buy wholesale vintage clothing.
Alternatively, social media is a treasure trove of vintage items, even in areas that aren’t specifically dedicated to vintage clothing resellers. Nearly every town has its own “Buy, Sell, and Trade” group, which are great places to find estate sales and garage sales, both of which are fantastic places to find unique vintage clothes for wholesale prices.
Conventions, Expositions, and Trade Shows
As mentioned, picking and pulling individual pieces yourself can be time consuming, but you’ll have far better luck finding quality vintage clothing items at dedicated vintage clothing conventions and expositions. Like Facebook groups devoted to resellers, trade shows are meant more for other businesses than for consumers, meaning you can get a great deal on wholesale vintage clothing.
Wholesale Vintage Clothing Websites
Before the internet, purchasing vintage clothing in bulk required a lot of commitment. Nowadays, you can purchase huge bundles online without ever needing to dig in a bin yourself! There are a number of websites dedicated to selling wholesale vintage clothing, such as:
One of the most impressive wholesale vintage clothing retailers, Smile Vintage imports huge quantities of vintage items from countries across the world. The site features a huge selection, allowing you to purchase items either by weight or lot. Devoted entirely to wholesale, Smile Vintage doesn’t sell individual pieces, so you know you can get a good deal on vetted items.
Smile Vintage is located in a small town in Spain and you can even visit their location in-person. They ship all across Europe, but shipping prices can be a bit steep for shipping addresses in the United States.
One of the biggest and best kept secrets in wholesale vintage clothing is none other than the aptly named Bulk Vintage. Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bulk Vintage is serious about its customers buying in bulk, as in-person shoppers have a required $100 minimum and online shoppers have a required minimum of $300. Bulk Vintage does offer the option to hand pick orders, but this usually ranges upwards of $500 and it does not offer size options.
Unlike some other wholesale vintage clothing sellers, Bulk Vintage offers absolutely huge volumes of clothing. This can result in some extremely pricey shipping costs, as it ships worldwide and each parcel is priced by weight, but their impressive selection—their clothes date from the 1930s to the 1990s—makes it well worth the cost.
A sustainable wholesale vintage clothing seller, LA Vintage offers a huge selection of items in their 42,000 square foot warehouse. Each of their bundles is curated, as the company focuses on multiple styles and trends rather than bundling clothes based on type. As a result, LA Vintage is one of the most cost-effective wholesale vintage clothing shops, as you don’t need to worry about receiving an order only to find out half of the items are simply horrendous.
With a minimum order amount averaging around $1,000 per order, LA Vintage is somewhat pricey when compared to some of the other wholesalers on this list, but their transparent prices and curated bundles ensure you know exactly what you will be receiving.
Though our list of where to buy wholesale vintage clothing is varied, the places featured are not the only avenues to purchase your next hot item. Vintage items are unique in the sense that they seem to pop up everywhere, so don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Some of the best places to find wholesale vintage clothing may not be stores at all—perhaps your grandmother has a treasure trove of 1950s prom dresses in her basement!
Additionally, you should shop around. Though many wholesale vintage clothing retailers require steep minimum order fees, don’t get too attached to one retailer, as you may find that other shops have better selections, sizes, or prices. It’s OK to order from multiple retailers. In fact, we recommend it.
Once you’ve found the best place to buy wholesale vintage clothing for your e-commerce shop (or, more likely, shops) the next step is to list your items. Since each piece of vintage clothing has its own specific niche, you’ll likely need to crosslist your item on multiple marketplaces to help your target audience find it. This can be time consuming, but using a crosslisting service like SellerAider’s Chrome extension makes it a breeze.