Our definitive guide to finding designer pieces for a deal.
Online shopping, while becoming the dominant avenue in which we satiate our seemingly limitless need to have Balenciaga or Céline in our lives, can be downright stressful. We mean, aside from playing it safe by buying a brand-spankin’-new Paula Mendoza ball choker or straight-out-of-the-box block-heeled brocade Valentinos on NET-A-PORTER, which we’ll admit happens slightly too often for our bank accounts to withstand properly, we’re always down for a deal. Especially when that deal has something to do with rare archival Alaïa or Givenchy circa 1994. The truth is, though, as much as our hesitation about buying on eBay followed us for some time, it’s since (and we’re talking lots of “researching” hours of browsing and bidding) changed our entire perspective on shopping for vintage online. As in, it’s pretty hard to deny the pull of getting global access to one-off CHANEL.
And with that we’ll throwback to our dozens of anxiety-driving questions from way back when and answer every.single.one. Because guys, like we said, we did our research. Take notes and finally press Check Out—trust.
Know what you’re looking for
Think of it this way, you wouldn’t step into a Saks sale without scoping out the merchandise days before, would you? You’d go in with a plan.
Same goes for eBay. It’s a vast, vast, vasssttttt world out there in the eBay-sphere, guys, so be prepared with at least a vague idea of what you’re looking for. “Use the subcategories and sort options so you’re not wasting time passing through shoes when you’re looking for a bag, or $5,000 items when your budget is $500,” advises Cov-alum and search expert (as coined by us) Jayne Min. “And if you’re on the hunt for the one that got away (or just lazy like me), you can always set saved searches and get email alerts when they pop up.” Hypothetically, let’s say you’re looking for Manolo Blahnik mules; search “Manolo Blahnik” (just assume not everyone knows sartorial parlance) and use eBay categories to narrow down the results.
Research the shit out of it
The ultimate fear is to end up with faux anything. Research is key here. If the item is still available in-store, go to the brick-and-mortar and touch and feel it. Look at the details, because ultimately, that might be the telling feature to spot a fake replica. If it’s limited-edition, or, you know, from before you were born, take your time and Google. “Sometimes we ask for more photos, just to ensure it’s exactly what we think it is,” say Callie and Samantha Beckerman. “We also check if there are any negative comments regarding their items.” Most items have distinct date codes and identifying features, so do what you can to suss them out and have them on hand when you do your cursory eBay search. It’ll ease that anxiety when finally placing a bid.
Try it on IRL
Unless you plan on solely purchasing accessories for the next 5 years, at some point you’ll need to know size and fit. Trying on a similar piece from the designer you’re hoping to score, either at your fave luxury department store or at your go-to consignment shop, will give you a pretty good idea of how their garments are crafted.
Unless you desperately need to have that kaleidoscope Mary Katrantzou for your BFF’s upcoming nuptials, you’re better off being patient. Set yourself a budget (hard to do, trust us, we know) and don’t budge. We’ll bet, with a bit of commitment, you’ll get your hands on it for a fraction of the cost.
Use the watch list
Hands-down the best tool eBay’s got, friends. Think of it as your ultimate wish list; setting aside the seriously amazing finds you’ve come across. eBay will ping you to let you know when the auction is coming to an end—aka drop everything and bid.
Ratings are key
Just like your Uber driver, you’re going to want the seller to have a :dizzy: and as close to 100% as possible. A few negative ratings doesn’t always mean you should avoid making your purchase—just like there are shady sellers out there, there are also shady buyers—so take your time and read the reasons behind the not-so-good feedback. “I usually check for how many transactions they’ve had. Zero? Pass! And their feedback score: the higher the better,” says Min.
You’ve finally found a couple of Hèrmes Jiges for under a G (yay!) but shipping is extra $$ and takes 5 weeks to arrive. Yeah…weigh out the cost versus time and figure out what’s best for you.