We wouldn't usually slide into someone's DMs first thing in the morning but needs must – especially when the account in question belongs to a vintage dealer on the other side of the globe. Welcome to the new vintage shopping community: a nonstop, 24/7 industry functioning on quickfire private messages.
Long before social media existed, scouring flea markets, thrift dealers and charity stores for vintage fashion was a popular pastime. "We’ve seen a thriving community of vintage sellers and thrift-loving influencers on Instagram, which is a natural digital evolution of this," explains Georgia Kelly of Instagram Partnerships. With over 313k people following #vintage in the UK and North America, it’s clear that this online community is growing.
Between the wildfires that ravaged Australia at the end of last year and the UK's recent storms, it’s no surprise that eco-anxiety is on the rise. The percentage of Americans who are 'very worried' about the climate has doubled in three years to nearly 30%. All of this has generated an upsurge in interest in the resale market. The benefit? Simple microeconomics: more demand has created more supply.
"For [buyers and] sellers, loving, respecting and seeing value in clothes is important, but understanding why you are selling is the real key," says Daisy Murray, a writer at Elle and a vintage dealer and shopper. "I just want people to shop secondhand over new clothes."
It's easy to think of Instagram as the love child of Tumblr and Etsy; a visual mood board that’s also shoppable. Without the structure or fees of eBay and more space for personal branding than Depop, the app has a real sense of community. The seller and buyer can know each other more intimately and instantly converse with other customers regardless of time zone.
Wherever you are in the world – as long as you have access to a phone and the internet – you can browse Knee Deep Vintage. For Trent Marinelli, the owner of the account, this global access is particularly appealing: "Instagram has allowed us to become a destination shop for travellers all around the world."
Buyers beware: fast thumbs are rewarded. Once a seller posts a picture of an item on their feed, interested shoppers can either message them directly or write 'SOLD' in the comments section. The first to do this will be sent an invoice – usually via PayPal – for payment.
As with any form of online shopping, there are pitfalls to watch out for. Without the contained structure of a global brand like Vestiaire Collective, the buyer is unprotected from fraudulent listings. Shield yourself by shopping only through accounts with which you have built a relationship, or which have a significant number of positive comments from their community.
Invest in a measuring tape, too, recommends Emily Hoover of Austin’s Feathers Boutique. "Because things are made from different materials and during different eras, shapes and cuts differ from most modern clothing," she says. Still unsure if it will fit? Daisy suggests typing a quick DM. Ask questions and forge a relationship with the buyer and you never know, they may have additional photographs and measurements they haven’t publicly shared. But never purchase when you’re uncertain, as most sellers don’t offer returns.
"Instagram can be a bit of a thief of joy," says Daisy. But with all this untapped vintage at your fingertips, you'd be foolish not to get scrolling. Click on for our favourite vintage sellers on the 'gram.