Ah, the ‘80s. Big hair, big sweaters, high rise jeans, sweet pastels, and playful neons…

Whether you remember those years fondly or cringe at old pictures – one thing is certain: your old closet is most certainly worth something.


What better place to turn a profit on your old garb than the internet? Numerous sites offer the opportunity to show off once loved denim, leather, and more – and the market is booming. Let’s take a look at five ways vintage fashion is shaping e-commerce and how you can make some bank.



  1. Know How to Manipulate the Nostalgia Loop

Today’s millennial market crave some good ‘80s fashion, even though some of them barely lived it. Why? It’s called the Nostalgia Loop, and it happens just about every 30 years. Hints of sentimentality influence purchase decisions for shoppers looking to bring back trends of their youth. What’s great about the 30 year loop is that it pairs perfectly with just about the time young consumers are entering their first comfortably salaried jobs. Nostalgic shoppers now have a little spending money at an age where they can still make a fashion statement. For individuals with some clothing from about 30 years ago, now is your chance to drag out old gear and resell for significantly more than you purchased the good for. Start up your own online shop on eBay or Etsy for low selling fees. Note that the ‘80s are in now, but they’re quickly on their way out, as the 2020s will bring a new sentimentality attached the the ‘90s.



2. Capitalize on Vicarious Nostalgia

Some buyers are influenced by what is called vicarious nostalgia, wherein shoppers experience a sense of bittersweet sentimentality of years gone by… even if they never lived those years. The age of Instagram has never brought a truer sense of this emotion, as users are equipped with filters to really give a sense of “being there.” Because of this, a rise of vintage fashion has allowed users to carefully style pictures to capture all the details of an era. That means even the little accessories that may be crowding your junk drawers are worth something to users looking for spot-on era-specific looks. To really capture the attention of consumers looking for a specific aesthetic, consider adding a filter to the images you use to advertise your vintage wear, or opt for assembling a “look” featuring your vintage item (or items). It’s all about helping consumers visualize the clothing in the context of a complete outfit.



3. Know How to Use Keywords

Know the language the kids are speaking to get found. That means using buzzwords that will spark interest in your vintage wear. Instead of simply putting “high-rise jeans” try tagging the item with buzzwords like, “mom jeans.” Or, if you have an item that was defined by a celebrity, consider including an image of that person wearing the item of clothing and also tagging them in the searchable keywords. For example, a pink ladies satin bomber jacket is defined by none other than Olivia Newton-John, so consider including her name in the search terms, or simply, “Grease,” for shoppers who may not know specifics.

How To Use Keywords To Sell Clothes

Check out this example, where a seller has included just about everything someone could be looking for in the item description. Note the celebrity and immense description. Awesome!



4. Find a Model

The absolute best way to make your vintage wear look great is to style it on a model. This may be an initial investment – finding a model can be tricky. Snoop through Instagram to find models in your area who may fit the bill. Make sure to take high-resolution images of your items on a digital camera. Use soft light to make sure colors are true-to-life and include all measurements in your description. Do NOT lay your items out flat on a scratchy table in a poorly lit area. This will not attract views and will likely not flatter your attire, either. An initial investment in high-quality photos will pay off. If possible, opt for consistency, as well. This will create a visual “brand” in your products and identify you as a reliable seller.

How To Sell Clothes Online

Here’s an example of an outfit that was carefully planned. Although this picture is only for a bodysuit, the seller has created an outfit that is era-specific and found a well lit, consistent backdrop. Nothing to distract the shopper from the outfit (windows, pets, messy rooms, etc).



5. Instagram is Your Best Friend

As with the filters, we’ve seen a rise in sponsorships with folks who aren’t necessarily famous. Instagrammers that hold a particular influence in the vintage fashion market could be a good option if you’re looking to attract attention to your shop. Reach out to users with followings of engaged users (make sure to double check that the users have not bought their followers… check comments sections to see that users are engaging with content.) Offer the influential user a free goodie or payment in return for a “tag” or link to your website. Instagram influencers are everywhere. When in doubt, reach out to someone in their early twenties or even late teens for guidance on Instagram.