Tag Archives: ebay

Currently (Not) Viewing – #Girlboss

I watched part of #Girlboss on Netflix so you wouldn’t have to.  Yes, that does make me a martyr to the cause.

This thirteen episode series on Netflix is more about the vintage clothing industry than it is about old clothes.  In particular, it addresses the big changes that occurred in the vintage market starting around 2005. It is the story of one vintage seller, Sophia Amoruso, the founder of Nasty Gal Vintage, who turned her ebay store into a major e-commerce site selling trendy new ready-to-wear. The story is a mix of fiction and the truth as Amoruso wrote it in her 2015 book, #Girlboss.

I have not read #Girlboss, and I only started watching the series after reading a discussion of the series in a facebook group of vintage clothing sellers. It seemed as if Amoruso was telling her version of why she got kicked off ebay in 2007, and it did not jibe with my own remembrance of the events.

This is not the first bad review #Girlboss has received.  Many of them focus on the main character, a fictionalized version of Amoruso, and her complete depiction as a “garbage person”.  She steals, she lies, she takes advantage of her few friends. She has no redeeming qualities at all.  But in spite of her complete lack of character, I found myself not even caring. Is it because we as a society have become so used to narcissistic, despicable people who are only interested in what benefits them? Something to think about.

So I found myself skipping several episodes.  I was, after all, only in it for the vintage. So Sophia floundered around, looking for direction when she sold a few things on ebay. She quickly realized there was a buck or two to be made, so she started studying the sellers who were the most successful.

This came at a time when eBay was changing rapidly. I first started using eBay to buy vintage around 1998.  For several years I could come home from work, sit with a cup of coffee, and go through all the new vintage clothing listings in about thirty minutes.  By 2006, when this story starts, that was no longer possible.  The category had grown, sub-categories were put in place, and eBay started community chat boards, including one for vintage clothing.

Until around 2005, most vintage sellers were were experienced dealers who had been in the business for years.  Many owned brick and mortar stores. Prices were good for both buyer and seller.  And most buyers seem to have been interested just in the wearing or collecting of vintage clothing.  Then, some very smart young women realized that by selling old clothes as fashion, they could make a lot of money. Styling and tall, thin models replaced hanging mannequins and clothes spread out on the floor for photos.  Overnight the game had totally changed.

Sophia found she was very good at this game, which often involved taking thrift store finds, many of them from the late 1970s and the 1980s, and cutting them up to make them more in tune with the styles of 2006.  By this time, the cutting up of old clothing had come to the attention of other sellers, and it was being discussed freely on the Ebay Vintage Clothing discussion board. Most of the comments were critical, though there were defenders of the practice.  I was of the opinion, which I stated several times on the board, that cutting up 1970s JC Penney polyester dresses designed for someone’s grandma was not a big deal, but that from what I could tell, some of the scissors-happy sellers seemed to have no experience with clothing, and so the possibility of valuable or historically important pieces getting ruined was high.

Amazingly, there is quite a bit in #Girlboss about this criticism.  In one episode, another seller, one of the “protectors of vintage” traveled to Sophia’s apartment to shame her for the practice of destroying old clothes. By the end of the episode, Sophia and the other seller seemed to have bonded, and the other woman gives Sophia a treasured dress,which turns up on Nasty Gal Vintage, chopped up beyond recognition.

I’m pretty sure that never happened, and was just written for the Netflix series. I think this episode is a metaphor for the online criticism Sophia was getting for her slash and trash selling tactics. But it does continue with the on-going “feud” between Sophia and her eBay haters. Probably the most imaginative thing in the entire series is the episode shown above, showing the Vintage Fashion Forum as people in a dark space, talking around a circle as though they were speaking through their computers, bashing NastyGal for cutting up the vintage. Occasionally NastyGal shows up, along with her friend, who is acting as a white knight.

The portrayal of the other vintage sellers is pretty funny, and I’m thinking that is probably how the young and smug Sophia really viewed the people on the forum. Or rather, how she wanted them to be. All are seriously up-tight, dowdy, and socially inept.

But they get their revenge by getting Sophia kicked off eBay for having external links to her MySpace (2006!) page in her item listings. From what I’ve read, this is also what Amoruso tells in her book, but although this was against the rules, I really do not think it was enough to get a person kicked off the site, especially one who was making so much money for eBay.

The was another, and much more serious discussion about NastyGal and some of the other newer sellers – that of shill bidding.  Before Ebay tightened up its rules and procedures, one could have any number of bidding ids.  And bids were shown by bidder on the sales page.  Some people on the Ebay Vintage board were actively following all the auctions of those suspected of bidding on their own auctions.

I do not have personal knowledge of why she was kicked off, but there were lots of complaints, and people were investigating the alleged shilling and reporting it to ebay. But while she bragged about the petty shoplifting in her book and in the program, shilling is a serious matter, which may be why she glossed over that part of the story. She did deny that she ever shilled on eBay in a 2014 interview.

It looked as if Amoruso had the last laugh though.  She went on to start NastyGal.com and she made a fortune. In 2014 Forbes estimated her personal worth as $280 million. But it wasn’t to last.  In 2015 the company began to implode, and at the end of 2016, Nasty Gal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company was purchased at a discount, and Amoruso was out.  She’s now started a new company, Girlboss, which, according to the site is “connecting smart women through content, community, and experiences.”

Photos copyright Netflix.

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One of a Kind??

One catch-phrase that some vintage sellers love to use is One of a Kind.  I guess the thought is that a buyer thinking that she can buy  the only one in the entire world makes a vintage garment more desirable.  That may be so, but the truth is that even vintage is rarely “one of a kind.”  Clothing has been massed produced for over 100 years.

When I first started buying on eBay in 1997, I’d be really distressed to lose out on an item to a higher bidder.  But as time went on, I realized that if an item surfaced once, chances are there are lots more of them out there.  In my early ebay days, I was the runner-up bidder on a Dalton Scottie doggie intarsia sweater.  I would have bid higher, but the sweater was green, a color I rarely wear.  Ten years later, the very same sweater finally resurfaced, this time in black.  It should be arriving any day now.

So claims of “one of a kind” need to be taken with a grain of salt.  Unless the item is couture (another misused idea, unfortunately) or custom made, its very unlikely to be ooak.

Another example is the great skirt above.  I’ve been collecting novelty border print skirts for about  four years now, and I’d never seen that Paris print except in my skirt.  But several weeks ago I found the very same print, but in blue.  To prove that I’m really not as greedy as I sometimes seem, I put the grey version up for sale.

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Filed under Novelty Prints, Shopping, Viewpoint, Vintage Clothing

How Not to Sell

Before you read any further, you should be advised that I sell things on the internet.  Not, many things, but until a few months ago I was selling quite a bit.  So I’m very sympathetic to internet sellers.  I think my real problem here is that so many more people are doing it now, and, well, I’m getting ahead of myself.

I also buy a lot from interent sellers.  It is much cheaper than filling my car with that liquid gold aka gasoline.  It helps out small business people and it is great knowing I’ve given old things a new life, far from the landfill.  So I get lots of packages in the mail.  But it was quite a shock to open one of my latest finds and to see this:

The cutest 1970s novelty knit ever – with the Salvation Army tag still attached.

First, it does not bother me in the least that the fabric came from the Salvation Army.  I’m no stranger to that chain of stores.  It does not bother me that the seller paid .99 plus tax for an item that I turned around and gave her $6 plus shipping for.

In fact, I’m exactly sure what bothered me about this.  It is that the seller didn’t care enough to remove the tag.  It wasn’t at all hidden, so she must have seen it.  Can you imagine walking into a retail store and on the tags was the actual cost of the item to Gap or Ann Taylor or Armani?  Most people would put the item back and wonder why they were being cheated!  You can be darned sure these big companies do not want consumers to know that the sweater you are thinking about plunking down $98 for, actually cost them $8.67.

And then you have the thrift stores who have decided they do not want to sell to resellers.  It doesn’t matter that thrift stores are booming in a time when retailers are struggling.  And a lot of that is due to the 1000s of people who are shopping thrifts for items to resale.  Some thrifts have put up signs saying they do not sell to ebayers, and so on, and others simply deface the merchandise:

Frankly, I’m of the opinion that any efforts to reuse old objects should be applauded.  One of the great things about the internet is that it has allowed people to sell millions of items that might have otherwise ended up in the trash.  The thrift store gets the same amount of money whether the buyer is a reseller or not.

And unfortunately, some thrift stores still have not heard about the resurgance in home sewing, as I know of at least three stores near me who refuse to “fool with” old patterns.  I’m doing my best to enlighten them.

Comments:

Posted by Jessica Umana:

First of all I’d like to say I love your blog, I have only just found it. I did’t realise I was a vintage lover until I started looking at places on the net and comparing them with my collections. Secondly I agree with you about the still attached tag. It was bad manners along with everything else. Well take solice in karma, it will catch up with that person. Anyway, keep up the good work!
Regards Jess (Australia)

Friday, June 13th 2008 @ 10:46 PM

Posted by Lizzie:

Jess, thanks so much for the kind words. I’m so glad you are enjoying my blog! I’m still shaking my head in wonderment at that seller! Lizzie

Saturday, June 14th 2008 @ 10:00 AM

Posted by missvintagelove:

I have one word for that tag left on – TACKY.

Tuesday, June 17th 2008 @ 1:19 AM

Posted by Holly aka Haute Country Vintage:

Hi Lizzie, Love your blog. Your knowledge is inspiring! It never ceases to amaze me when people do this, and it’s not uncommon anymore, at least when buying on ebay:-? Best regards, Holly

Tuesday, June 17th 2008 @ 10:38 PM


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Actually, It’s NOT a Funky Plaid Turban Rain, Beach Hat Very Cool


I found this on eBay – Heaven only knows how as it was in the wrong category and even worse, in an eBay store.  The seller was on the right track, as this is a beach hat, or cap, but it is much older than she suspected.  I’ve been looking for one for a very long time, and this one just popped up on my screen.

When I first discovered eBay eight years ago, I’d come home from work, pour myself a cup of coffee, and sit at the computer for 30 minutes and read through ALL the new vintage listings for the day.  And this was before gallery images, so I had to actually read the titles.  All vintage items were in one category – shoes, clothes, accessories, and there were no era divisions.  Rarely was anything newer than 1965 even listed, and for the most part, items were correctly dated.

But as eBay grew, so did the interest in vintage clothing.  People saw how much money was to be made off what was perceived as thrift store finds.  In the early days of eBay, most people selling vintage clothing were long-time vintage dealers.  Now it’s anyone who finds something that looks old and funky or cool.

After the listings started to grow and I could no longer look at each one, I came up with some search terms.  One I used was “Mod.”  I found some great stuff using that word – a Mary Quant dress from 1966 and several pairs of great mid 1960s flats.  But now, try using “Mod” as a search term in the vintage category.  As of this minute, it returned 4887 items, including one in the 1920-1937 sub-category!  Of course, the dress in question is not mod, nor is it from the 1920s – it’s an early 70s maxi dress!

Needless to say, I don’t use Mod as a search term any longer, but I do have a few that I use regularly, and THAT is how I found this not funky but definitely cool swim cap!

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Filed under Shopping, Sportswear, Summer Sports, Vintage Clothing