Here’s the lowdown from an incurable fashionaholic on how to find and buy some Australian designer labels for very reasonable prices, complete with the some of the best designers’ names by style, and top buying tips.
1. Keep up with the labels.
This may involve some legwork (real or virtual) outside of eBay. Sadly, there’s no getting around this, and it can be a bit more difficult for girls who live in out-of-the-way places. Melbournians can sashay through fabulous Fitzroy taking note of labels, and Sydneysiders just have to wander up Oxford Street, but there are lots of options for the rest of us. For instance:
- it’s easy to check out Vogue or InStyle or similar online or in print (and guess what? You can even buy a copy of Vogue Magazine on eBay!)
- check out the labels you already own. Does Gorman dominate your wardrobe? How about Mazi? Are you Ms Moss & Spy or Madame Milk & Honey? This should give you a clue about what you should be looking at initially.
- Australian Fashion Week is another fantastic source for inspiration.
2. a) Browse for labels where their style seems to match yours.
OK, I’m not going to be exhaustive here, I’m just going to give you some ideas to start you off.
Are you a:
- funky kind of gal (One Teaspoon, Kookai, Sass & Bide, Kinki Gerlinki, Dangerfield, Akira, Zimmermann, I adore Roisin Dubh but it's very rare)
- feminine style aficionado (Leona Edmiston, Collette Dinnigan, Rebecca Davies, Fleur Wood, Hannii)
- casual style-o-phile (Blue Juice by Seduce, mink pink aka minkpink)
Are you into:
- sophisticated, tailored shapes (Marcs, Chelsea Design, Kate Hurst, Brave by Wayne Cooper, Dogstar)?
- classics (Carla Zampatti, Lisa Ho, Scanlan & Theodore, Charlie Brown)?
Do you love:
- tee-shirts? (Mermaid Sister, Metalicus)
- jeans? (Roy, Tsubi, Bettina Liano, Sass & Bide)
- swimwear? (Seafolly, Tigerlily, the ubiquitous Billabong)
Are you a bit:
- gothy? (13Tears or see this fabulous buying guide - no I didn't write it)
- rockabilly, perhaps? (Wheels & Dollbaby)
- hippy? (Joveeba, Peace Angel, Tree of Life, Enchantress, Banajara)
- cutting edge? (white suede, buddhist punk, sisnme)
Ooooh my head is spinning… how’s yours?
2. b) … not to mention size and fit.
I have to face that I’m never going to be able to wedge my curvaceous hips into Sass & Bide, but Tsubi, on the other hand, will always be my friend. If you’re bigger than a size 12, you've probably already worked out that some designers think of ‘large’ as being sparrow-sized (grrrr). Conversely, I’ve heard that if you’re smaller than a 10, Country Road can be a problem, as their sizes run notoriously large. If in doubt, ask the seller of the item you've fallen in love with to provide the key measurements. I've always found sellers to be incredibly helpful in this respect.
3. OK, I’ve got a list of my favourite labels. Now what?
Once you find a designer you love, type it into your eBay favourite searches. If you don’t do this, it can the most frustrating thing in the world (I was in Sydney a few months ago and found a superb boutique which made lovely stuff out of vintage kimonos. Could I remember the label upon returning to my trusty computer? No!! Argh!! *beats head on desk*)
The great news is that the ever-vigilant Ebay people have thoughtfully created a ‘related searches’ function. Once you’ve typed in the name of one clothing label you like, you can just click on the link and be transported to a whole new range of deliciously synonymous clothing. The less-than-great news is that EVERYONE now searches using ‘related searches’. You often need to be cunning in order to find what you want!
4. So here are my 6 top tips for buying delicious designer gear cheap on Ebay:
- If you find an individual seller who’s got something that you like, check out their other items. Not only will the other items often be in your size, they may also be in your style! And the seller might be a complete darling and post multiple items to you at once for a discount.
- Once you find a seller who’s your fashion soulmate, add them to your favourite sellers list. Never, ever let them go.
- Sellers’ spelling can be an issue that you can turn to your advantage. I recently bought a fantastic “Suduce” top for next to nix, and it’s amazing how much cheaper “allanna/ alana/ alanah hill” can be than the alternative.
- When you’re on Ebay browsing for labels, have a go at sorting by price -- top-down. No, I’m not kidding. You don’t have to actually BUY that delicious Willow evening dress (a steal for $799.00), but you CAN take note of the label. Perhaps there’s a gem out there by the same designer for $7.99. OK, well perhaps not. But you get the idea.
- Go and try the item on. Once you’ve found the perfect pair of jeans on Ebay for a fraction of retail price, toddle on over to DJs and try on the selfsame pair. If you can’t find an identical item, at least try a few other styles by the same designer. This is ultra-ultra-ultra important when it comes to jeans and anything fitted… $150 for a pair of jeans that doesn’t fit is NOT a bargain, and unless you’re unlike any woman I’ve met, you won’t lose (or gain) that 5 kgs to make it a perfect fit. No, you won’t. Trust me on this.
- Bid on items at non-peak times if you can. If something you love is finishing at 2pm on Tuesday, you’re much less likely to get into a bidding war with someone than if it finishes at 9pm on Sunday. Watch the item and bid on it as it’s finishing. Of course this sage advice won’t help you if the item you LOVELOVELOVE and MUST HAVE is finishing at 9pm on Sunday. Sorry about that.
In closing: I daresay I’ve missed a mega-important designer or misclassified someone or something equally hideous. Deepest apologies in advance, and I hope this guide is somewhat helpful to you all!