HOW TO START A VINTAGE CLOTHING BUSINESS

Jackson Thomas

I get asked most days a variety of questions, all pretty similarly worded, from people trying to start a vintage clothing business.

This will tell you how.

But firstly, I didn't reinvent the wheel. 

There is no cheat sheet or hack for how to do this thing.

Plenty of people did it before me (better) and will do so after (also, hopefully, better).

My way is not the only way to do this, is basically what I'm saying.

But for those wanting to know my process here it is;

In the beginning

One of things I hear most from people who say they want to start their own vintage business is 'oh I'm just waiting until I have enough cash for 100+ tees' or 'yeah just saving up for a good camera'.

If you're in that boat, print out this from Ice and glue it to your bedroom wall.

 

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A post shared by ISAAC JOHN (@iice_) on

 

 

For context, I launched Vintage Kit in March 2019 with 10 t-shirts, $30 and an iPhone 8 (still running that bad boy).

In short, you don't need a lot to start.

Talk to people smarter than you.

Passion for fashion is one thing, but you need some basic business plans/structures in place. Otherwise you just end up swimming in circles.

Gather as munch information as possible, but not at the expense of creativity.

If you can't get in front of people in the business space, talk to your parents. Talk to your mates. 

Anyone who can help you put a plan in place for where you are, versus where you want to be.

Lock in on brand

Name, vibe, content.

Those three things will be your mother-ship.

Figure out what you want the feeling of the brand to be. 

Come up with a name and incorporate the business (creates momentum and stops it just feeling like a pipe dream). 

Don't be precious with your content - just post it ffs.

Nobody cares what your page looks like - or rather nobody cares if you post a selfie next to a selfie.

Just document the journey and the content will come organically. 

Un-boxings and that are cool, but show you trying the kit on, sizing it up, pulling shit you don't like, driving to the post office, customer feedback - show everything!

Source kit

The biggest hurdle - and mine by far.

This is a marathon not a sprint.

People I speak with try this for a week and then quit. Wrong business for you then.

Finding a good supplier takes a long time.

For me, about 8 months, a bit of coin and over 300 emails/DM's.

If you want American kit, you need to go to the states.

How?

eBay and Etsy are good starting points, but again, this is just my process.

Other people use places like FoxVintage etc and do bulk buying.

Nothing wrong with that. In fact it can be a good jumping off point if you just want stock.

But if like me you only want to sell cool shit you would wear, you have to hand pick.

It's a slog and can wear you down but trust me, once you lock onto a good supplier(s) it's all worth it.

 - Go on eBay and  Etsy (ebay probably better).

 - Find someone selling cool shit that you like. 

 - Message them.

Ask if they would considered discounted shipping etc on bulk buys.

Cop 10-15 and see if you rate it. Then go back for more, if you do.

Build a relationship. You're helping each other.

From there the dialog (hopefully) evolves into a business partnership and before you know it, they're hitting the streets in the US hunting gear for you.

It's up to you to negotiate prices, and workout what's worth getting to you.

Okay, so then actually selling it

I started selling just on Instagram.

I'd post clothes on my stories and sell through the DM's (day ones know the game).

Firstly it's free, and it's an easy way to build an engaged audience. 

There's nothing personal about a website so you have to have brand identity before jumping to that.

Start on Insta and once you're moving 30-40 pieces a month, maybe look at Shopify. 

But don't rush it.

Getting people to spend

It doesn't matter how sick your vintage gear is.

If there's no story, or no content, you won't even get it in front of people.

Your social content and ability to tell your story is what's ultimately going to get people to buy.

Your gear's not that cool to sell itself. Trust me.

Content can be hard for people, but you don't have to be the guy in front of the camera talking shit like me.

There's other ways to do it, it just has to align with your brand!

Look at @thesocialvintage.

One of the coolest players in the game right now. 

Very rarely do you see the people behind the lens (good cunts btw) but their brand has a story.

It's instantly recognizable and you can feel it in their content - so you (I) buy.

Influencer marketing

There's a reason everyone does it, it works - I did it.

But be careful about who you decide to try and align with.

For me, I love sport. And sell sports kit. So that's the route I went initially.

If you have a cool product you'll find a simple message to like minded people, who you think will be into it, can go a long way.

This is what I would send to athletes and content creators whom I thought would be about my gear;

"Hey bro, hope you're well.

Jackson here, staring a small vintage biz in Auckland and reaching out as I reckon you'll rate some the gear!

If you're down I'd love to send you some (send pics). 

And if you rate it, a shout out on insta would be dope.

If not, free clothes anyway to throw in the back of your drawers.

Let me know man!"

Feel free to copy and paste that.

Hopefully this helps anyone out there looking at coming down this road too.

No secrets. 

I wish there was a million more vintage businesses out there - then it's just a game of content.

Game on.



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