An Honest Review of ThredUp
There are nearly 21 million people worldwide trapped in some type of forced labor situation. Forced labor takes many forms and occurs across a wide variety of industries. One of the most common industries using forced labor is in manufacturing, especially in electronics and apparel, where exploited laborers are forced to work extensive overtime and are trapped by their oppressors through the use of debt bondage. Instances of forced labor in manufacturing are not uncommon, nor is it rare for such practices to constitute as primary sources within the supply chains of the apparel stores we come in contact with, even purchase from, on a day-to-day basis.
A great alternative to purchasing from stores that may be engaging in forced labor is to shop secondhand. With more aspects of our lives undergoing the shift from physical to virtual, locating worthwhile thrift stores - and finding the time to visit them - is becoming increasingly challenging, not to mention the process of digging through unorganized racks of clothing in search of your size can be a frustrating and ultimately fruitless endeavor. This is where web-based secondhand clothing stores have begun to gain their relevance and popularity. One of such stores is thredUP, an extensive virtual marketplace that has been providing shoppers with easy access to women’s and children’s clothing and accessories since 2009, subsequently earning the title of the world’s largest online thrift and consignment store.
After using the iOS app for seven days, I was primarily satisfied with both thredUP and its app. Judging based on thredUP’s selling processes, products, prices, purchasing methods, app platform, and as a company overall, I concluded a rating of 4.6/5 stars, which constitutes as only slightly more critical than the comprehensive rating of 4.8 stars in the App Store.
Our rating: 4.6/5
thredUP is an extensive virtual marketplace that has been providing shoppers with easy access to women’s and children’s clothing and accessories since 2009, subsequently earning the title of the world’s largest online thrift and consignment store.
So how does it work?
All of the products sold through thredUP have been sent to the San Francisco-based company by users just like us. To submit items for sale, users request a “Clean Out Kit”, which is a bag and shipping label sent by thredUP. Users who wish to receive a commission from the sale of their items can either request a Standard Bag, which is free of charge and requires up to two weeks to be processed, or an Expedited Bag, which includes a $16 charge but is processed within seven days.
If you don’t wish to make a commission off of your items, you can order a Free Donation Bag. Like the Standard Bag, this particular type of Clean Out Kit is free of charge, but users defer the payout from their items; instead, the bag is sent to one of the company’s four charity partners (Feeding America, Big Brother Big Sister Foundation, Help a Mother Out, and Girls Inc.) from whom thredUP then purchases the bag’s contents. Thanks to this incredible opportunity to give back, thredUP has donated a cumulative amount of over $13,875 to these charities.
Products and Payouts
There are over 35,000 different brands accepted and sold by thredUP. The company highlights their “Top Brands”, which include J. Crew and Theory. Within the realm of “Luxe” designer brands, thredUP accepts more 300 labels, including Chanel and Louis Vuitton.
To provide satisfactory quality in all items sold by thredUP, the items they receive are carefully inspected by thredUP’s team of style and authentication experts. These specialists check to ensure that all items are in excellent condition and are in line with the current fashion trends.
Due to the careful processing of each product, a number of items are not accepted. If users want their rejected clothing or accessories to be returned to them, they must purchase return insurance when requesting their Clean Out Kit. If no return insurance is purchased, unaccepted but still wearable articles of clothing are passed down to third-party sellers. Unaccepted clothing that is no longer wearable is given to textile recycling plants, which find new uses for the fabric; this practice was adopted in 2016 when thredUP entered a partnership with Macy’s to promote sustainability.
For accepted items, the sender receives a payout based on the item’s price in the thredUP marketplace. Payout for items that are likely to sell quickly is immediately available to the sender, while commission for those that are expected to take longer to sell is not received until the item is purchased.
Although I have not attempted to sell any products through thredUP, I came across a number of App Store reviews that included complaints about thredUP’s acceptance rate, which is a selective 40%. While I can understand the frustration of sending a large number of items to thredUP only to have them all rejected, I appreciate the strict standards against which thredUP compares its items, and these standards make me more likely to purchase items from the marketplace.
Products for sale by thredUP are available at up to 90% off retail prices. While browsing the app, I found the lowest clothing price to be $1.99, (for an Xhilaration top) and the highest price was $1,579.99 (for a Giorgio Armani leather jacket). This, of course, creates an incredibly vast range of prices; however, I found the pricing to be reasonable overall, with quality items such as Banana Republic blazers listed at nearly 50% off original listings. Furthermore, thredUP maintains a reasonable flat shipping rate of $5.99, with free shipping for purchases over $79.
Overall, I have been content with the usability of the thredUP app. Creating an account is made easy by the option to sign in through Facebook; however, after creating an account, the app goes directly to the home page without providing any further information about its services. Considering the fact that I had no previous knowledge about thredUP, I felt as though I was expected to jump right in and start buying products when I didn’t know exactly how thredUP worked, or whether it was a dependable platform for making purchases. It took a notable amount of exploration across the app and an extensive dig through the FAQ list before I felt as though I had a satisfactory understanding of the company and its marketplace.
Despite having some difficulty getting started with a clear understanding of thredUP’s processes, and a few areas in which the app lacks specific options available on the website, I still feel as though the app provides a solid platform for buying and redistributing clothing and accessories. The extensive options to filter products, the user-friendly navigation for browsing, and the clean and bright layout all work in tandem to create a positive experience for customers.
My favorite aspect of thredUP lies within the company’s ethics. Not only do they provide the option to support charities that are creating profound change, they also promote sustainability and environmentalism as core foundational values by utilizing options for recycling textiles and by advocating for the sustainability of purchasing clothing secondhand. According to the app, the process of creating a single article of clothing uses an average of 700 gallons of water, and, by selling over 300,000 items each day, thredUP has played a role in preserving more than 3.5 billion gallons of water. Furthermore, buying products through secondhand marketplaces like thredUP allows shoppers to purchase the clothing and accessories they love without supporting shady production processes that may involve the labor exploitation.
You don't have to wait until December to be a part of the impact. Join the Dressember Collective and become part of a powerful community of advocates and donors furthering the work and impact of the Dressember Foundation through monthly giving.
About the Author
Morgan Wiersma is a student at Chicago City Colleges, where she plans to finish her Associate in Arts this spring before beginning to pursue an undergrad in Creative Nonfiction and Social Sciences. She calls her cozy apartment in downtown Chicago home and lives with her dwarf rabbit, Lola. A coffee enthusiast and avid writer, Morgan also enjoys small art projects, tea candles, and oversized flannel shirts.