All My Designer Clothes Are Secondhand From Xianyu
Secondhand clothes? You might be balking at the idea right now, and maybe feeling a little itchy from imaginary cooties, but how does the idea of paying USD 20 for authentic Lululemon leggings sound? Because to me, it sounds pretty good, and totally worth the small, vaguely possible, risks of secondhand shopping.
Firstly, an introduction is in order. You know Taobao, but do you know about its sister app, dedicated to secondhand shopping, called 闲鱼 Xianyu? The name itself is curious enough, as it translates to Bored Fish, but it catches on quick. I suppose if I’m a bored fish, then I’m glad that Beijing is a huge shopping pond with truly diverse offerings. As of today, I have made 174 purchases on Xianyu, from my kid’s Balenciaga shoes (one-sixth the retail price, worn once indoors, and in practically new condition) to the Linksys router that provides WiFi in my house (mint condition with box) and my dog’s Westpaw chew toys (brand new from a closing-down pet store). When my neighbor’s US Xbox power adapter went kaput here, I went on Xianyu and bought one for RMB 50 (as opposed to RMB 150 on Taobao), which they received within three days.
If the shopping experience sounds as seamless as it does on Taobao, it truly is. But I hear your questions, so let’s start with the one I get most often – How do you know it’s authentic? The short answer is I don’t, not really. But I know what I’m willing to pay for. I have discovered that generally, people don’t really want to lie and cheat you, not for a few bucks anyway. Most sellers will say the item is authentic, or that they don’t know, or avoid the issue altogether. In the case of the latter, they usually declare that the item is from the same factory as the “real” goods, and may concede that it was rejected for manufacturer’s defects, akin to the goods that end up at outlet malls. In such cases, if they weren’t already provided, I may ask for photographs of the defects and then decide if I’m willing to accept them for the price.
On Xianyu, I’m looking for secondhand goods, not cheap knockoffs. No worries if you are, however, because there are plenty available, though I would rather go to The Pearl where I can try on the goods myself if cheap is what I’m going for. If you are after truly authentic secondhand goods, then you’ll want to avoid the sellers who list the same item in multiple colors, or with multiple listings of the same item, which is highly unlikely to be secondhand and much more likely to be knockoffs.
I’ve shopped on secondhand apps since my child was born (he’s 6 now), and the secret to my success is knowing exactly what I’m looking for. I search for a specific brand in a size that I already know I fit, for example, “Patagonia female winter jacket M” will definitely whittle my search to only tens of items rather than hundreds of Patagonia goods. The more details the better: materials such as “goose-down” or a specific model, “Fall collection 2020,” or even a specific color will all help narrow your search to better target your shopping.
Personally, part of the reason I shop secondhand is also to mitigate the environmental impact of retail shopping. Thus, it only makes sense that I also try to avoid the heavy carbon footprint of shipping, which I accomplish by setting my search parameters on Xianyu to within Beijing. Follow the steps in the photo below to do the same!
Pro Tip: To minimize costs, I like to check for free shipping, which is generally the case for most items, even when they’re shipped from beyond Beijing. Here’s how to check if shipping is free for your item.
When you’ve found an item you like, save it by clicking the star button on the bottom, which puts it into your list for later. Plus, check the seller’s other listings for more items you may also like, as you could ask for combined shipping or a discount for more items! You can do this by clicking on the seller’s profile photo. After you’ve discovered a seller you really like, you could also follow them by clicking the large yellow button with the plus sign on their main page.
Yes, there is the caveat that Xianyu operates entirely in Chinese with no easy option for translation. But truthfully, once I find what I’m looking for, I click the red Buy Now button, pay with Alipay, and voila, a package arrives at my doorstep within days. Sometimes, I’ve had to give the item away because it didn’t fit the way I wanted it to, but my success rate is way higher than the disappointments. Also, the successes have been so satisfying because of the money I saved, and more importantly, the resources I didn’t use or the human capital I didn’t incur from buying new.
I’m happy to help you navigate Xianyu to make your secondhand shopping journey a little easier! Just scan the QR code below to be added to the Xianyu Xperts group.
KEEP READING: How to Watch the Tokyo Summer Olympics for Free, and Other Tips
Images: Unsplash, Vivienne Tseng-Rush
How to Watch Tokyo Summer Olympics for Free, And Other Tips
In Search Of Beijing's Best Reading Cafes
How An Artist's Brush With Acupuncture Made Painting Possible Again