On buying second-hand garments online, with Drop93
Updated: Sep 28, 2020
I don't have a lot of experience in acquiring second-hand garments.
Growing up in a Chinese-speaking culture and environment, pre-owned/ vintage clothing tends to be associated with a range of negative connotations. Meanwhile, a strong emphasis is placed on newness, such that we would even celebrate Lunar New Year by wearing new clothes.
Naturally, it was only until I became more eco-conscious about the garments I wear and, more importantly, more appreciative of vintage tailoring that I get to have more chances to buy second-hand.
Now, while I am certain that my experience in second-hand shopping would only become more enriched over time (and that I will be writing more extensively on this topic hereafter), I am pleased to say that my first two purchases with Drop93 have given me a good impression so far.
In today's write-up, I'll first introduce you to Drop93 ― what the brand does and offers, followed by a review of the garments I've acquired from them, lessons learned from my purchases, as well as how this links back to sustainability. Hopefully, my experience can offer you some insight into buying second-hand sartorial goods. Enjoy.
What is Drop93?
OK, long story short, Drop93 is a sister company of The Armoury, which is considerably the first and, hence, one of the most renowned haberdashers that brings together sartorial and artisanal goods from around the world and offer it in one place. (Well, they have stores in both Hong Kong and New York so that makes two?)
Drop93 extends this concept of bringing closer distant artisans and consumers through offering vintage, pre-owned, and new old stock items (from The Armoury that is), all at a more economically-viable price point.
In other words, say, if you are fond of acquiring vintage pieces from luxury brands (from when they used to make quality garments in timeless designs), or getting a taste of bespoke tailoring from heritage houses such as Anderson & Sheppard or Liverano & Liverano but aren't quite willing to pay for that price tag, then this is the perfect place for you.
The site is also constantly updated with new items, in contrast to some other second-hand platforms. So don't worry about being forced to choose among a few imperfect or ill-fitted products ― there will always be more coming along the way.
With the first question out of the way, the next question would be how is my experience with Drop93?
As of writing, I have purchased firstly, a grey double-breasted suit from Anderson and Sheppard, and secondly, an ivory raincoat from Prada. To my knowledge, they are both pre-owned and subsequently sold to Drop93 by some of The Armoury's most loyal customers. (This is usually how the shop acquires its garments.)
Now, considering I have quite a contrasting experience and lessons learned from both purchases (a tale of two garments?), I will discuss them separately in the following sections, starting with the raincoat.
Long-term followers of the blog would most likely know that I have an obsession with sheepskin/ fur-lined collar. I have infinite affection for my polo coat that I've designed together with Whitcomb & Shaftesbury and I am certain that it's a piece that would last for a lifetime.
The only downside is that the overcoat is not waterproof or water-resistant, qualities which are essentially a must-have for at least one of your garments if you live in the UK.
Hence, when I encountered this piece on the Drop93 site - seeing how it fits my measurement, as well as resonates with my personal style and what I have been searching after for a while - I acted immediately.
Like with anything, it was surprising to me initially that such a beautifully designed coat would be sold for 1/10 of its original price. I pondered, perhaps, this is too good to be true.
Nevertheless, this mystery was solved as soon as I unboxed the garment. While the raincoat looks sublime and well-worn as encapsulated by Drop93's photos, it regrettably came with a somewhat damp stench.
It was likely the result of the raincoat being stored in an attic/ vacuum-sealed bag for a prolonged period without the use of sandalwood wardrobe fresheners. (In Drop93's defense — it was very briefly mentioned in the product description that the raincoat shows some sign of wear and smell.)
Luckily, after the coat was properly drycleaned - thanks to the team at Michael Norman - the stench is now reduced to a faint scent, perhaps even unrecognizable.
If anything, the key takeaway from this raincoat is that be sure you ask a sufficient amount of questions before purchasing second-hand garments. Problems like such are avoidable if you are shopping in-person, but less so if the shop is thousands of kilometers away in Hong Kong.
Plus, you could always test how knowledgeable the seller is by asking more questions.
The center stage of today's write-up, however, is set on this well-cut yet understated Anderson & Sheppard double-breasted suit. Why? Let’s just say the difficulty in buying second-hand tailoring and just any second-hand garment is on two different levels.
I have longed for a grey DB pinstripe suit that is more conservative than what I already own for some time now. Truth be told, I have focused too much on 'play-suits' for the past few summers, that acquiring a suit that is as sober as this piece is a great addition to my summer wardrobe and a well-deserved change of scenery.
Hence, when I came to realize that the measurements of this suit and what I already own are rather similar (except for the trouser, which was cut straight rather than tapered), I went on to purchase it soon afterward.