Rhiannon D’Averc tried out an app that is all the rage right now – and discovered whether it’s the future of fashion, or a flash in the pan.
Vinted is an app which allows you to sell your old clothes to strangers, or people in your local area. It has come more to the mainstream consciousness in recent months, with posters and other advertisements splashed across London. It promises the opportunity to get cash for your unwanted items – but what is the reality of using the app?
We’ve all seen the videos scattered across YouTube of bloggers using sites like Wish, which seem to offer too good a deal to be true. Usually, it turns out that it really isn’t true at all. eBay has also suffered from a poor reputation, as user to user sales often end up in tales of “lost” parcels, fake item sales, and difficulty with holding others accountable.
So, does Vinted fit into this category as well? I’ve been using the app for a couple of months, and I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised.
I started listing a batch of items that were old things from the back of my wardrobe, some worn and some brand new, that I no longer wanted. My first experiment was actually with a bra I had bought from another website: it was not delivered in the correct size and the customer service team turned out to be, well, non-existent. That’s what you get for buying something cheap on a dodgy Chinese site, right?
So, I listed this item, noting the correct size, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it had sold just a couple of days later. I actually got back what I originally paid for it, minus a bit of the shipping fee, so that made me pretty happy. After the order had been confirmed, I had a few days’ grace to get it shipped out to the buyer’s address (you can also choose to have items delivered to a local pick-up point if you don’t want to reveal your home details).
The funds were not put into my account right away. Rather, after being taken from the customer’s account, they sit in limbo with the Vinted team during the delivery process. Once the customer has received the item and confirmed that it was as described, they clear the funds and you get paid. I got great feedback from this customer, which encouraged me to go ahead and list more.
Working in batches, I’ve now managed to list over 65 items – from my own wardrobe, my partner’s, and even my Mum’s after she heard that I was successfully selling. I’ve only managed to get rid of six items so far, across five sales, but that feels like a very good rate for just a few hours of work to take the photos and write descriptions.
The listing process is pretty fast, and the shipping process is also straightforward. Buyers can choose to have their items sent by Royal Mail or by another shipping service, in which case you can actually print off shipping labels at home and just drop them off.
There are two methods for advertising your items within Vinted – bumps and spotlights. Bumps get a single item highlighted, while spotlights will put your profile into search results as a collection of items that buyers might be interested in. So far, I haven’t tried either as I’m happy waiting for the sales to come in.
The process of buying and selling is largely community-driven. A user can favourite your items, showing their interest. After my first round of listings, I became a bit more savvy and realised that most users expect to be offered a discount when they hit the favourite button. You can do this via direct messages, and they can either accept or make a counter offer. You can also lowball anyone yourself if you want to make a purchase. If a user has items marked as ‘available for swap’, you can also just exchange them after reaching an agreement.
I’ve bought one item through the app – a pink duster coat that caught my eye – and the process is just as smooth as it is with selling. The best part is knowing that you’re shopping with money that you’ve made from selling other clothes – it really turns it into a recycling process!
One downside is that the policing of the listings also seems to be more community-driven. While there are plenty of rules in place about what you can and can’t sell, a lot of users seem to ignore them and list whatever they like – including fakes. You can report offending listings – I reported a pair of gorgeous Adidas trainers I wanted that turned out on closer inspection to be, er, not Adidas, and they were taken down fairly rapidly. That does mean there is a certain sense of buyer beware. It’s also not like a shop where you can just return something that doesn’t fit – your best option may be to relist it and sell it on.
So, what’s my final verdict on Vinted? I love the fact that you can clear out your wardrobe while also making some spare cash, allowing you to also shop others’ unwanted items. It means those ill-judged Christmas presents don’t just get stuck at the back of the drawer, and you can have what you actually wanted.
What’s more, this is a much more eco-positive way to shop. You aren’t contributing to the pollution of the fashion industry, either by throwing clothes away or by buying them new. Yet, you still get something new – or at least new to you. This is pretty perfect for those of us who want a high turnover of looks and styles, like bloggers or models, yet don’t want to blow their budget.
It might not be the future of shopping in its entirety, but I can certainly see this model sticking around for a long time. The sharing economy is a real force, and the idea of sharing clothes like this definitely works. There may come a day when the app is overrun with fakes and fakers, but until that day, I know where I’ll be going every time I find a skirt that I haven’t worn in years hiding at the back of the rail.
Find Rhiannon on Vinted as @jaggeddreamland. And if you’re selling pink Adidas trainers in a size 5, let her know…