can be profitable :) Wall St. Journal article


    The Gold in Your Closet:
    Investment-Grade Bustiers

    Online bidding wars erupt for second-hand
    designer duds; $500 for a $80 dress -- from H&M

    March 24, 2007; Page P1

    The stock market may be having its ups and downs this month, but here's an investment that appreciated 629% in just a week: a blue silk bustier top from Target. The top, designed by Proenza Schouler, orginally sold for $35, but because it was featured in a TV commercial and had already sold out at Target, its owner was able to sell it on eBay for $255.
    This month, women across America will go through their annual spring-cleaning ritual, clearing out their closets in hopes of recouping a few dollars from clothes they no longer like -- or just never wear. But the market for reselling clothing is changing, with some of the least-expensive goods seeing big jumps in value and online auction sites letting shoppers effectively scalp hot-selling items from H&M and Target in particular. It's a big shift from the traditional approach, in which shoppers resold their clothes after they'd worn them for a while and would fetch only a fraction of the purchase price.

    [​IMG] See sample items recently sold on eBay.

    Among the items that have found buyers willing to pay substantial premiums: A Roland Mouret dress that sold for $108 at Gap in January appreciated 100%. A sweater dress from the limited-edition Stella McCartney line that H&M sold in 2005 went for more than six times its original price on eBay this past January.
    Though it's hard to predict precisely which items will ignite a bidding war, the feeding frenzy for fast fashion is beginning to resemble the demand for high-priced "it" handbags. Speculators have jumped in to snap up the clothes as soon as they hit stores -- and list them for sale on eBay. Even before a collection by Madonna arrived at H&M in the U.S. this past week, there were multiple bids on eBay for Madonna sunglasses that H&M started selling March 10 only in Hong Kong.
    The irony is that these clothes, created by designers such as style icon Karl Lagerfeld and the trendy Viktor & Rolf duo, were intended to give the masses a chance to own designer duds. They're made from less-expensive fabrics than the usual designer fare and feature lower-quality tailoring, with price tags to match. But when fast-fashion chains carry these designer collections for a limited time only -- and at only some of their stores -- the scarcity can drive up prices on the secondary market.
    That "drives up the cachet and it drives up the price," says Constance White, style director of eBay, which has more than two million listings in clothes, shoes and accessories at any given time. "Logic isn't dictating the high prices. It's emotion."
    Women who want to unload their designer clothes every year have far more options than in the past. In addition to consignment shops, an array of dealers have sprung up to help people unload their unwanted clothes online in exchange for a cut of the proceeds. Sales of apparel and accessories on eBay alone exploded to $4.7 billion last year from $2.9 billion in 2003.
    Most designer clothes, however, don't fetch much, with the exception of certain vintage couture items and brands with a cult following. On eBay, the most searched terms in apparel, shoes and accessories are Coach, Louis Vuitton, Abercrombie & Fitch and Chanel. There is also demand for certain items by designers Norma Kamali and Ossie Clark. The prices typically reflect a garment's condition as well as availability.
    Some dealers, of course, do a better job than others of unloading castoff clothes. New Yorker Marlene Provizer, a personal shopper who has sold online for 10 years, for instance, relies on her "Book" of satisfied clients to match buyers and sellers just before she lists items on eBay. That has enabled her to move goods promptly -- often at impressive prices. She has sold about four of designer Zoran's $900 tafetta evening jackets, including one for $450 to a return client. "If people have already done business with you," she says, "they come back to you again."
    For the most part, women who sell their unwanted clothes don't expect to get a lot. Janis Ehlers of Boca Raton, Fla., regularly takes suitcases full of designer clothes to a consignment shop in Washington, D.C., that takes a 50% cut of the proceeds. She says she considers it "found money."
    The limited-edition designer clothes made for Target and H&M can fetch prices far above their original values on eBay because they are novelties that often sell out quickly at retail. Only a few styles are offered and they're on sale for only a couple of months.
    This is a contrast to a new generation of "designer" labels such as Isaac Mizrahi's line for Target and Nicole Miller's Nicole line for J.C. Penney, which are simply part of the year-round mix at the stores and seem to command only routine interest in the secondary market. For example, in the past three months 87 Mizrahi items sold on eBay with an average price of about $10 -- and none sold higher than their original retail price.
    Even Mr. Lagerfeld, who generated a lot of buzz when he did the first designer guest turn at H&M in 2004, wasn't a hit on eBay. Only 34 items from his H&M collection, which featured a lot of black and had a high-fashion look, were resold on eBay, and the highest price was $78.56 for a party dress that originally sold for $116.
    Sellers -- especially those looking to make a profit -- usually have to strike early. Two weeks ago, Triss Budoff of Houston spent $2,000 at Target on about 55 Proenza Schouler items but missed the peak of the frenzy. So far, she has sold 30 of them for an average of $8 per item more than she paid, meaning she is essentially breaking even after her costs to list the clothes.
    Still, she isn't deterred. She figures she can return anything she can't sell within 90 days and get a full refund. To increase her chances of cashing in next time, she plans to show up at the store the first day the clothes hit.
    Target, H&M and the other stores don't seem to mind because the guest-designer programs are aimed more at generating buzz than sales volume. Target doesn't limit the amount of designer merchandise a shopper can buy, because its goal is to make high fashion accessible to a broad audience, spokeswoman Amy von Walter says.
    H&M also says it's making high fashion more accessible and allows people to buy as much as they want. H&M said in a statement: "While we prefer buying and selling to take place in our H&M stores, there are no laws preventing private individuals from trading on the Internet."
    Teri Agins discusses the market for used designer clothes Saturday morning on ABC's "Weekend Good Morning America." Check local listings.
    Write to Teri Agins at
  2. Interesting ... I was about to return that exact Proenza top ... but maybe I should keep it instead now? What do you think?
  3. This is a bit contraversial because there are people out there who will buy tonnes of the stuff for the sole purpose of turning a profit on Ebay.

    This is the case with Stella at Target in Australia. The range was already limited and there were people who took whole clothing racks to the checkout - which sucks for those who want to buy these items for their personal enjoyment.
  4. well this never happens to me. alot of times i change my mind and i can barely get 50% of what i paid for! =(

    and i find it really hard to sell my pieces. i guess the ppl that buy to sell don't have an attachment to the items. it's just profit for them. but i do think these stores should limit the pieces people can buy so it's going to customers that will keep on coming back rather than profiteers!!

    checking out with a whole rack is just ridiculous. they should have done something about that. target might as well not produce it if they are going to let some business person buy a whole rack and sell it elsewhere!!!