I am not a wealthy man, I used to have far more disposable income than I do now but circumstance of the industry in which I work along with increasing real life costs and the responsibility of a family have eaten away at what used to be my personal playtime budget and what is more I am completely sure that there are many others, just like me, in a similar situation. So what do you do when the money is no longer there to buy a $350 pair of jeans or a $400 pair of boots when you want them? Well, quite a few things actually.
Personally speaking I am happy to buy second hand clothing, I am not happy to buy clothing (or anything really) that has not been ethically manufactured. Unfortunately, as I have already pointed out several times in previous articles, quality denim and work wear is expensive, especially if it is made by one of our favourite Japanese or North American brands. So where do we find Samurai jeans for less than $100? What about White’s semi dress boots for $50? A pair of Aldens for free ? Iron Heart work pants reduced by £70? Let’s take a look.
Forums – Forums have always been, and continue to be, the home of many a bargain. I know that in the days when I was more flush I sold some quite expensive items for a relatively poor amount of money simply because I didn’t want them any more, and there are plenty of people doing this right now. The best advice I can give about buying from a forum is see how long the poster has been around, check out any dedicated threads for good and bad feedback (both the IHF and SuFu have these), ask for pictures of the actual item and not stock pics and ask for actual measurements rather than a link to the manufacturers measurement table. To get a real bargain on a forum you have to be lucky, check as often as possible for new listings and sometimes you have to ignore every other piece of advice I have given and just take a risk, but prepare to be burned if you get it wrong.
Example – Nicely worn Samurai S710 Jeans $100 shipped.
eBay – The bargains are still out there trust me. Earlier this year I bought a vintage 60’s Belstaff jacket for £40 and sold it a week later for £270 simply due to a miss spelling in the title. Ebay is hard work these days, it’s a market that has had its potential for bargains almost totally drained by educated buyers and sellers vastly over estimating how much their stuff is worth, but that doesn’t make it worthless just much harder to find what you’re looking for. Be prepared to put in the hours, search internationally, check spelling mistakes and trawl through page after page of generic crap by typing in broad terms such as “leather jacket”. It takes time and effort and is not made appealing for buyers or sellers by the arcane postage pricing system and the exorbitant fees, which hit you once from eBay and again from Paypal, the same company. Imagine it as a giant online yard sale, which charges you to enter. Good luck.
Example – Vintage Belstaff Trialmaster £40, sold for £270.
Go Vintage! – All the cool stuff that we wear didn’t just miraculously come into being in the last few years, much of it is inspired by clothing from years gone by and some of those original designs are still pretty cool today. There are dangers in doing this, people are really catching on to this market and prices are steadily on the march, but if you educate yourself with the better brand names from years gone by you can still pick up some really cool stuff with a simple search. Knowledge is key in the vintage clothing game and it is what separates a bargain from a dud, you have to be aware that vintage clothing was cut much differently to modern clothing, you will generally find that the waist on jeans is higher, whereas shirts are cut wider and shorter, the original 50’s silhouette was much different to today’s interpreted version.
Example – American made flannels by Frost Proof and Five Brothers for an average of £10 each.
Pay it forward, get freebies! – If I buy an item for not much money and it doesn’t work out for me I have no issue handing it over to a friend for free, similarly if I have owned an item for a long time and end up getting a replacement I like to pass it on to someone else. Now, I don’t do this all the time I’ll admit, if something has a reasonable amount of value or I need money for something else then I will sell, but in some circumstance, when you can, it’s good to move things on for free and sometimes you can be on the receiving end of this kind of thing. I have been given some incredible things for no money, things which I still wear today, items which have been listed here as true FWA’s. Never underestimate either peoples capacity to be an asshole, or their capacity to surprise you in a great way with their generosity.
Example – Alden Indy’s and White’s SD, Free!
Compete! – Contests can be a great of getting a sweet discount on an exclusive item. For the HWDC2 Iron Heart released a new version of the Beatle Buster jeans in their super heavy 25oz denim at a reduced price for competitors, and in the HWBC we got great discount on the White’s Bounty Hunter boots for contestants. These days you see quite a few brand specific contests where a group buy is organised through a forum thread for a specific pair of jeans from a certain manufacturer, and by joining this group buy you get to enjoy whatever discount is applied for the small inconvenience of posting a few pictures every month or so, plus you then get the added opportunity to win yet more free jeans !!! How could you refuse?
Example – Iron Heart Mega Beatle Busters 25% Discount !
So, as you can see, it can be done if it has to be. It takes a little research, some good friends and enough spare time to put the hours in to find what you’re looking for, but it isn’t unreasonably hard to do. Now get out there and save some money.