One day, as I was scrolling through Instagram, I saw one popular blogger post pic after pic of various dresses on hangers on a wall rather than the pretty, staged minutiae of her day-to-day life.
I was confused. I scrolled back up to the caption on the first dress. It said: FOR SALE. This blogger was selling a bunch of her swag.
It’s no secret that popular fashion bloggers get a lot of free clothes and accessories, which their followers fall in love with and buy for themselves; and thanks to the wonders of shilling, this brings more traffic, more money, and more free stuff to bloggers. (Not a bad gig if you can get it.)
The clothes on Instagram were things this particular blogger had clearly gotten for free, because all of them were new, with or without tags. And an hour or so later, they were all sold. She made hundreds of dollars for a few simple photo posts.
Soon, there were "Shop My Closet" Instagram feeds showing up everywhere. (Search the #shopmycloset hashtag on Instagram today, and you’ll see around 700,000 posts.)
Initially, I wanted nothing to do with Insta-selling. I was irritated by the whole thing. My sister and I spent five years building our vintage business on Etsy, growing a client base and blog. And then these bloggers quickly take a photo of some twee dress and make big bucks off their thousands of followers (who are often really just desperate to connect with them in hopes that they’ll become blogger BFFs)?
It didn’t seem fair. Not to mention, we had to pay Etsy a percentage of our sale earnings and pay for individual vintage postings, while via Instagram, these people were doing it all for free.
I tried not to judge their business savvy. And I knew I was just a little jealous. (OK, maybe a lot).
I eventually found myself following a few closets of people who wore the same sizes as me, just to get an idea of what people were selling. The items were cute, and for the most part, the prices were really reasonable. I started to see online vintage shops like ours using Instagram as a forum for selling -- and I didn’t blame them, as our own vintage sales had fallen tremendously since the oversaturation of the Etsy vintage market.
Everyone and their mother was jumping on the free, fast IG seller bandwagon. Some of my friends started their own shops, too. I didn’t begrudge them wanting to make a few extra dollars easily, and being that I advocate secondhand clothes shopping, this was a good thing.
Maybe this whole Insta-shopping thing wasn’t so bad?
And one day, not long after, I found myself scrambling frantically to comment on a post with my email. I bought something! Then another thing! Two beautiful pieces for cheap that would not end up in the trash. Did this make me a hypocrite? I don’t care, these things are so pretty, and they’re on their way to my doorstep!
We started an Instagram account for our own vintage shop, and once we made it to 300 followers, we planned our first Insta-sale. I’ve seen enough shops in action to feel confident putting the sale together, and I’m actually excited about it. There’s a thrill/rush to selling online in real time, waiting for comments to pop up. It almost feels like more fun than work.
So maybe Instagram is the selling platform of the future. At least, until they get wise and start charging people.
Do you shop or sell on Instagram? What do you think about the #shopmycloset trend?