Consigning in the UK has a special name

March 26, 2019

This post has been updated from May 2015

If you’re traveling across the pond, check out consigning in the UK

An article in The Guardian made the shocking statement, “UK shoppers own £10bn worth of clothes they do not wear.” In American dollars, £10bn is well over $13 billion. That’s a lot of unused clothing. The reasons for not wearing them sound very familiar. Like Americans, some were hoping to lose weight.  Others were hoping the styles would come back into fashion. Regardless, unused clothing makes for a vibrant resale industry…with a different name.

Dress Agencies

The term “consignment” isn’t generally used in the UK. If you are a women’s clothing consignment shop, you call yourself a “dress agency”. In my research, I was surprised to find several online conversations where some Brits never heard of the idea of consignment. One woman said she generally “swished” her used clothing. I’m not sure what that means, but I doubt it has to do with a toilet (or the “loo” as they say over there). However, others in the United Kingdom are very familiar with buying and selling secondhand. Indeed, Brits know where to find the deals. One such company is The Pandora Dress Agency. Selling only designer label merchandise, this shop is located not far from Britain’s infamous Harrods department store. Or, seek out luxury goods at Sign of the Times Dress Agency. The shelves are filled with Prada, Chanel, Hermes, etc.

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Buy Outright

Like our Buffalo Exchange, the British offer “typical” American buy outright options like the MGE Shops. MGE stands for Music & Goods Exchange. They currently have 7 stores including the Retro Woman Clothing Exchange and the Retro Man Clothing Exchange. Interestingly, their tagline is “Nothing Legal Refused!” Another store is Cash 4 Clothes. This company offers cash based on the weight of items your bring in.

Online sales are booming

Like America, Europe has its share of online resale opportunities as well. In London, you’ll find HEWI, translated as Hardly Ever Worn It. This company began out of Monaco where (as their website states), “outfits are never repeated.” Their vibrant website lists items for women, men and kids. Rebelle is another popular online site. They allow you to enter your items on their site or have them do it all for you. Before anything is sold, however, your items go through a rigorous authentication process.

Not everything’s the same though

Many of these shops use the same social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, but there were a few things a bit different. For instance, you don’t hang your clothes on a rack, you hang them on “rails.” You don’t stand in the checkout line, you get in the “queue.” Finally, when giving directions to your shop, never say you’re close to the subway. You’re close to the “tube.”

Their love for resale is just one more reason to appreciate the Brits. I, for one, would really enjoy making a visit to a “dress agency” across the pond. Wouldn’t you? Cheerio! If you enjoyed reading about consigning in the UK, read Consignment Around the World.

It’s fun to see how others are running their resale shops. If you’d like to hear more about how SimpleConsign customers run their businesses, visit them here.

Deb McGonagle

I have been a writer for various forms of marketing for over 40 years. I've written my share of radio and TV scripts, magazine and newspaper ads as well as direct mail brochures and newsletters. Currently, as the Marketing Director for Traxia, home of SimpleConsign software, I've moved into blog posts, eBooks and website text. It's been an ever changing and ever challenging journey but I've loved it all along the way.