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For years, eBay had it made. It was the only major online purveyor of consignment fashion and so, despite its weaknesses, it thrived. But the site was so massive that it was hard to parse. It was so seemingly unpoliced that dubious postings and counterfeits were par for the course. In other words, it was ripe for serious competition.
Over the past year, a robust new generation of online resale sites have emerged. Their homepages are more Net-A-Porter than eBay or Etsy, and they come complete with editorial content and photography worthy of The Edit. "Resale is no longer about dusty, crowded, dated racks to dig through to find a gem here and there," said Leah Park, co-founder and CEO of Vaunte. "We select only the best brands and [most] relevant styles—all in great condition."
Not only is the market growing, but each site is finding ways to hone in and personalize the buying process. "Convenience and community are key components to online consignment," said Sari Azout of Bib + Tuck. "You have to build trust and you have to make the experience dead simple. Nobody wants to deal with weighing items, going to the post office, figuring out shipping costs."
Besides the streamlined specifics of buying and selling, there is, of course, the possibility of deals far beyond the sale racks of your local boutique, or getting your hands on designers you've always dreamt of owning. After the jump, we present our updated list of the nine sites redefining the standards of online consignment.—Erika Graham
What makes it different: Closely curated to feel like the ultimate downtown-mid-twenties-girl's closet. It operates with a unique site currency and gives new users a starting balance to hit the ground running.
Brands you can expect to find: Rachel Comey, Dolce Vita, Nasty Gal, bygone designer and fast fashion collabs.
How the selling process works: Upload pictures (helpful guide to taking selfies included) and set suggested pricing for submission to the site's editors.
Percentage of sale charged as commission: 0%
If buying, this site is best for: A sharply curated, budget friendly selection of high and low designers.
If selling, this site is best for: Making sure your items don't get lost in an overwhelming sea of products.
Favorite item sold: "A Givenchy cone shark earring. Who in their right mind would give that up?"—Sari Azout, co-founder
For Love and Lemons bra, $48 on Closet Rich.
What makes it different: Simple, easy-to-browse site that combines a highly-curated online selection with a sporadic brick-and-mortar presence in the form of pop-up shops.
Brands you can expect to find: Alexander Wang, Loeffler Randall, Mink Pink, Reformation.
How the selling process works: Sellers are chosen on a referral basis only.
Percentage of sale charged as commission: Undisclosed, as the selling process is private and based on referral.
If buying, this site is best for: Sharply-discounted indie designer goods.
If selling, this site is best for: Excellent networkers.
Favorite item sold: "In 2011, we had the Natalia Brilli Leather Nolex—never worn, pure amazingness. The piece was sold out everywhere online and sold within 15 minutes of becoming available on Closet Rich. That was a pivotal sale for us. It proved that the CR vision had identified and addressed a need in the fashion marketplace, and also, defined Closet Rich as a place to find truly desirable, sought after finds."—Elizabeth Kott, founder
Marni jeweled wedges, $365 on Ina NYC.
What makes it different: It's an online offshoot of the lauded NYC designer resale emporium. It's very discerning and only accepts great-condition designer wares.
Brands you can expect: Manolo Blahnik, Marni, The Row, Chanel, Stella McCartney, Isabel Marant
How the selling process works: If you live in NYC, you can bring your goods in to one of Ina's five retail locations. If not, you can fill out an online consignment form and ship your goods to them for consideration. Here are all the details.
Percentage of sale charged as commission: The price is agreed upon for each piece upon inspection by Ina staff.
If buying, this site is best for: Ultra-high-end pieces without much wear-and-tear. Designer gratification without the digging.
If selling, this site is best for: Pricey pieces—you'll get the best returns here, even though you have to wait 'til an item sells to reap your payment.
Favorite item sold: "We've sold some really beautiful Hermès pieces like a one-of-a-kind Hermès silk jacket. This is such a hard question."—Ruby Andreolli, manager
What makes it different: It's a hybrid luxury designer consignment and flash sale site.
Brands you can expect to find: Balenciaga, Fendi, Jason Wu, J Brand.
How the selling process works: Submit items to The RealReal for consideration either by shipping them in or by using their free pickup service, available in major US cities. Inspection, photography and pricing is controlled by The RealReal.
Percentage of sale charged as commission: 40%
If buying, this site is best for: Widest selection of luxury designer merchandise.
If selling, this site is best for: Those looking for an easy, "hands-off" consignment process.
Favorite item sold: "Our favorite was The Row crocodile backpack, there were 30 made and we received one of them!"—Julie Wainwright, founder and CEO
Proenza Schouler shoulder bag, $1,795 on Shop Hers.
What makes it different: Shop Hers has a patent-pending "Style Soul Mates" algorithm that places buyers and sellers into sub communities based on style similarities.
Brands you can expect to find: Dior, Marc Jacobs, Lanvin, Givenchy.
How the selling process works: Sellers upload images and set a price, or send the item to Shop Hers and have them do the listing and shipping for a steeper 35% transaction fee.
Percentage of sale charged as commission: 18%
If buying, this site is best for: Finding real luxury designer steals (like these $65 Prada kitten heels) with minimal scrolling.
If selling, this site is best for: Getting excess designer goods off your hands quickly and cheaply.
Favorite item sold: "Probably my most surprising purchase is the Fendi bag that one of my style soul mates was selling and urged me to buy this month. I was hesitant but trusted her sense of style so much that I pulled the trigger. Now I can't put it down! I practice what I preach."—Jaclyn Shanfeld, founder and president
Superga sneakers, $27 on Threadflip.
What makes it different: There's a strong emphasis placed on the social aspect of the site. Users can gain followers with a similar sense of style who are notified every time a seller drops a price or adds a new item. Threadflip also absorbs the cost of any purchase over $100 found to be falsely advertised in any way.
Brands you can expect to find: Everything from Wet Seal and Chinese Laundry to Yves Saint Laurent and Dior.
How the selling process works: Upload pictures and set your own price via the web uploader or Threadflip app. The "White Glove" pre-paid shipping and listing service is offered for a 40% commission.
Percentage of sale charged as commission: 20%
If buying, this site is best for: Unique vintage/handmade finds alongside staple goods from the likes of Forever 21, Gap, and J.Crew.
If selling, this site is best for: Accepting the parts of your closet that got hit hard during your DIY phase.
Favorite item sold: "Of course we still cheer when a Balenciaga bag sells or someone scores a pair of Louboutins for an unbelievably low price, but I'm always pleasantly surprised at the one-of-a-kind purchases, like that awesome denim jacket that someone painstakingly studded by hand or that well-worn, hard earned band tee."—Leslie Fong, brand and merchandising manager
What makes it different: Tradesy functions as a marketplace that is open to all brands, plus there's a specialized wedding shop. Users can also curate a personalized style feed based on favorite designers and clothing sizes to cut down on browsing time.
Brands you can expect to find: Old Navy, Opening Ceremony, Cartier and everything in between.
How the selling process works: Sellers upload images and set price based on a suggested amount given. Tradesy professionally cleans the main image and when the item sells, the site sends the seller a pre-paid shipping kit. If the item is returned, the seller is not responsible for refunding the buyer unless the item has been misrepresented.
Percentage of sale charged as commission: 9%
If buying, this site is best for: The trendster whose closet is constantly refreshing itself.
If selling, this site is best for: Those looking for a place that accepts any brand (in good condition).
Favorite item sold: "We just sold a $35,000 Hermès bag the other day, which made our entire team swoon! We've also seen the same Vera Wang wedding dress bought and sold by four different women, who each wore it on their wedding day and each looked amazing and unique in it."—Tracy DiNunzio, founder and CEO
Lauren De Niro Pipher, a seller on Vaunte. Image via Vaunte, photographed by Christopher Martin.
What makes it different: Strong editorial content and design gives the site a different spin on the usual marketplace feel. It also has a menswear and home goods section.
Brands you can expect to find: Michael Kors, Thakoon, Jil Sander, Band of Outsiders.
How the selling process works: Upload photographs and descriptions of items for submission. If accepted, Vaunte sets the price, professionally photographs the item, and ships it to the buyer upon purchase.
Percentage of sale charged as commission: Up to 40%
If buying, this site is best for: Satisfying picky shoppers.
If selling, this site is best for: Accepting a wide variety of designer merchandise.
Favorite item sold: "Fanny packs! To be more specific, vintage Chanel fanny packs that are super difficult to find."—Leah Park, co-founder and CEO
"A black and white Chanel cat suit from Veronica Beard's closet, it was just so unique and so rare."—Christian Leone, co-founder and CCO
Isabel Marant cream top, $180 on Walk In My Closet.
What makes it different: Users can literally take a peek into each other's closets. Photograph yours and upload images (even if you aren't selling and it's just for bragging rights), or create a virtual dream closet. Many items come from discerning Parisians.
Brands you can expect to find: Alaïa, Hermès, Chanel, Oscar de la Renta.
How the selling process works: Photograph and submit your luxury designer item for consideration (images will be professionally cleaned for actual sale) or utilize the concierge service for a 35% commission.
Percentage of sale charged as commission: 25%
If buying, this site is best for: Getting to shop the closets of selected "influencers," including Charlotte Ronson, Elettra Wiedemann and Julia Restoin Roitfeld.
If selling, this site is best for: Knowing your items will be well presented.
Favorite item sold: "Everyone in the office wanted a vintage Hermès Birkin travel bag that was just beyond beautiful. While we were trying to figure out who was going to get it—it was sold! Right now we have a few vintage Kellys that to me, are more beautiful than any new Hermès and perfect to be carried around as an everyday luxury."—Ambre Dahan, co-founder
· The 38 Essential Online Shops, Winter 2014 [Racked]