Vintage clothing is a term that is used interchangeably with pre-owned or second-hand clothing but the two are not exactly the same. While vintage clothing is likely to be pre-owned it has a lot more to do with timeless style. So while all vintage clothing may be second hand, all second-hand clothing is not vintage. None the less, the principles for success in vintage clothing are the same in the high-end second-hand clothing businesses. Having made that distinction let’s look at the keys to success for someone looking to start the vintage clothing in Zimbabwe.
Building a brand
This really applies for all clothing, in fact, lifestyle businesses – build a brand. This is not to be confused with branding which involves the visual aspects of brand representation. Building a brand is telling a story that identifies the business, it’s desired customers, competition, peers and partners. So you need to decide exactly who you are going to be and who you’re going to be for. This must carry in all your messages and communication.
There are various sources for your clothing and you’ll need to be creative with this. You can source clothing from large second-hand sales (this will involve a lot of sorting), thrift shops, garage sales and auctions. What you need is a keen eye for clothing that is consistent with your brand identity. One major tip here is to avoid spending big on stock early on in your business. Having money tied up in stock instead of looking for customers isn’t a wise idea.
Pricing and market
Your pricing strategy comes down to your market and your chosen niche. Ultimately you want a situation where clothes fetch decent amounts. If you’re lucky you’ll largely be selling unique and rare items hence that puts a little exclusivity in each piece and in turn you can put a little premium on prices. In addition to this one of a kind, items create a sense of urgency in customers.
One thing you need to get very good at is presenting your clothes. This applies to both online and in person. Develop a knack for presenting your stock in its best light. Dress up a mannequin and capture great photos. Whether you choose to immediately open up a shop or do pop up appearances at markets and fairs (the two options I recommend) you need to make sure the presentation of clothing is always top notch. This feeds into the idea of building a brand from earlier.
Regardless of the option chosen for your store you will definitely need the support of online resources. Consider a blog in addition to a strong presence on social media especially image and video-friendly platforms Facebook and Instagram. You can use the platforms to continue to tell your brand story while showcasing some of your products. In terms of clothing, people respond well to being told how to wear things and what to combine them with.
Image is important in this business and so are social proofs, working with influencers, or becoming one, should definitely be in your plans. While the vintage and pre-owned markets are starting to saturate you can still find stock at bargains which you can flip and make good money on.