Not Into Paying Full Price? Here’s Where to Find the Best Designer Clothes for Less

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Designer bags like this popular Yves Saint Laurent clutch are sold at a steep discount on resale sites. (Photo: Getty Images)
Designer bags like this popular Yves Saint Laurent clutch are sold at a steep discount on resale sites. (Photo: Getty Images)

According to a recent survey, the average woman spends nearly $1,500 on clothing and accessories a year. Broken down, that’s about seven “casual tops” at $20 a pop, three pairs of shoes for no more than $70 each, and dresses under $50, plus some other items.

Of course, that doesn’t include any designer purchases.

If adding designer labels to your wardrobe is a habit — or even a pipe dream — that budget is almost impossible to maintain. A new Fendi bag, for example, can easily run $3,000, double the average shopper’s entire annual budget.

While the budget for designer goods might not be something the average shopper can afford, that doesn’t mean demand isn’t there, and a handful of retailers have answered the call. Since 2009, the market for designer resale goods has exploded.

Six years later, that market is valued at $15 billion of the total $348 billion U.S. apparel market, according to fashion resale website thredUP. What’s more, the resale luxury segment (previously owned Prada, Chanel, etc.) is growing faster than the market for nonluxury (J. Crew or H&M) and entry-level designer goods (Kate Spade or Tory Burch).

But navigating the online marketplace for resale clothing is difficult. Some websites promise big markdowns but don’t deliver on them; Net-a-Porter, like an online-only Saks Fifth Avenue, only offers sales a few times a year, and often items sell out quickly. Other websites promise great quality, but you risk ordering something described as having “light wear and tear” that ends up being delivered completely worn and torn; Trusting an eBay seller to deliver an authentic item is tougher than you’d expect.

While there’s no Kelley Blue Book or CarFax or AutoTrader for fashion like there is for the automotive resale market, there are some reputable sites that deliver on the promises of value and quality. Luckily for you, Yahoo Style rounded up the top sites and stores for buying designer goods without paying designer prices.

The Outnet

Photo: Courtesy The Outnet
Photo: Courtesy The Outnet

Owned by the same people who started Net-a-Porter, The Outnet has a vast inventory of designer goods that weren’t previously owned, but instead are perhaps a few seasons old or no longer in high demand. The site ships internationally, and given its founders’ relationship to the industry, you can trust what you’re buying here is authentic.

The RealReal

One look at The RealReal homepage shows even the trendiest designer clothes and accessories at marked down prices, offering daily sales. You can consign your items on the site to earn credit, or, if you prefer, you can pay in monthly installments to afford your new Louis Vuitton at 25 percent off.

Gilt

“Vintage Chanel Handbags, Shop This Sale” the Gilt site reads. It’s almost too good to be true, but it is, if your idea of a sale is paying $2,500 instead of $4,700 for a leather handbag. Just know that trying to find something “cheap” on Gilt isn’t likely, and if you do find something you can justify paying hundreds (or thousands) for, you’d better do it before it’s sold out and you’re stuck on a perpetual waiting list.

ShopBop

Photo: Courtesy ShopBop
Photo: Courtesy ShopBop

While you won’t often find the ultimate in luxury names like Chanel on ShopBop, you’ll find others like Marchesa and Jonathan Simkhai marked down multiples, making it a good option for those who want to introduce higher-quality clothes to their wardrobe but may not be ready to shell out thousands.

United Apparel Liquidators

Both Racked and the New York Times call UAL “the best kept fashion secret.” The retailer, whose original store is in Mississippi, now operates six stores across four states, but you can also purchase items online, often for a discount of up to 70 percent off. The website isn’t as refined as Gilt’s, for example, but don’t let that deter you: You can still find an incredible pair of Dries van Noten platforms.

Treasures of NYC

The luxury curator Treasures of NYC doesn’t have a regular website, only an Instagram account with a modest 6,000 followers where it posts its newest inventory. To buy something, you have to slide into those DMs (really), but if you do it’s worth your while: Treasures sells the crème de la crème of designers: Chanel, YSL, Céline, and Dior.

Luxury Garage Sale

Photo: Courtesy Luxury Garage Sale
Photo: Courtesy Luxury Garage Sale

Here’s what’s cool about LGS: In addition to the boutiques and consignment services for their designer inventory, the company offers a styling service without breaking your budget. And if you don’t like what the stylist chooses for you, there’s free shipping both ways.

Vestiaire Collective

Vestiaire Collective is one of the OGs of the designer resale market. The site is, much like eBay, peer-to-peer based, meaning buyers and sellers interact directly. Still, authenticity is guaranteed, and there are sales aplenty.

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Alexandra Mondalek is a writer for Yahoo Style & Beauty. Follow her on Twitter @amondalek.