Don't blame op-shops for the shocking rise in second-hand prices

Gone are the days of dirt-cheap recycled fashions, but we shouldn't point the finger at stores like Vinnies.


Would you pay $500 for a pair of second-hand shoes you found at Vinnies? Even if they were designer? According to the internet, the idea is outrageous. We've seen a rise in anger over op-shop prices of late – from a $75 ski jacket to those $500 designer shoes, and even a $350 T-shirt (which turned out to be a mis-price of $100, but still). It’s a far cry from the old days when you could pick up a cute little number for a fiver, or even a whole new wardrobe for less than one of these single items.

Louboutin shoes retaining for $500 at Vinnies; Op-shop counter
A pair of Louboutin loafers were discounted to $500 after failing to sell at a Gold coast Vinnies op-shop for $1,483. Source: Facebook

But while it's easy to rage against the op-shops for their supposed price gouging in light of the current state of the economy, we really only have ourselves to blame. As the cost of living has us all looking to second-hand and vintage clothing in search of a bargain, myriad factors are contributing to the rise in the second-hand clothing market, driving prices into the stratosphere. And, more often than not, people are happy to pay.

For every person whinging about inflated price tags for various vintage whatnots over at Reddit, there are even more enterprising bargain hunters posting videos on social media showing off their second-hand flips. These op-shop hauls feature "thrift slays" (i.e. outfits or items that are particularly notable or excellent value), while also providing tips, tricks and hacks for others to create a business out of reselling the most prized items on resale sites such as eBay.

Viral videos abound, detailing exactly how much profit these thrift hackers can make on single items through resale – so much so, it has become a thriving side hustle for many young people struggling to make ends meet. And, in the end, with the increasing demand for good quality second-hand clothing, the supply is barely keeping up.

Roxy ski jacket retailing for $75 at Vinnies op-shop
A Roxy jacket was being sold for $75 at a Vinnies op-shop in Newcastle. Source: Reddit

According to, in 2022 alone, the global market value of second-hand and resale apparel was estimated at almost $270 billion, and it's projected to double in size by 2027. It's no wonder op-shops have become the middleman in a thriving new market where lucrative profits can be turned over with little effort beyond a quick visit to your local Vinnies.

As a result, op-shops have struggled to keep up with demand, often increasing their prices in response to the influx of buyers. And when you consider the aforementioned $500 designer shoes – Louboutins, no less – in reality, they're actually a bargain. Luxe resellers, which proliferate sites like Instagram with their profitable resale businesses, would probably be asking a lot more – only, when it comes to Vinnies, at least it's going to charity.

Front of Vinnies op-shop
Vinnies Shops profits go to the St Vincent de Paul Society's services for people experiencing disadvantage. Source: Google Images

Add to the interest in '90s and '00s fashion throwbacks of late, an uncertain future for the environment when it comes to clothing waste (more than 3 million tonnes of textile waste are dumped annually in Australia), growing concerns over unethical fast-fashion practices, and an increased demand for sustainable clothing options, it's no wonder we're all hooked on second-hand haute.

So, don't blame the poor op-shops – they're just meeting demand. And considering the huge news this week about Cosette's alleged designer fakes being passed off as a discounted version of the real deal, you might be best to stick to second-hand if you're looking for a designer discount – even if that $500 price tag sends you reeling.

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