Wholesale Vintage Clothing 101


vintage warehosue supplier clothing

Are you a buyer for a Vintage Clothing Store? Or are you a vintage clothing shop owner looking for a new supplier for your store? If this is you first time purchasing Vintage Clothing Wholesale for your store, then there is a few things that you should know.

Buying Vintage Clothing Wholesale 101

Where do all of those clothes come from?

Often times vintage clothing suppliers process thousands of pounds of clothing either each day or each week looking for the one of a kind items that store buyers are looking for. The first question that many people new to the vintage clothing industry ask is, “Where do all of the clothes come from?” The quick answer is that they come from all over the world, but the long answer is that they come from donations.

1. It Starts With the Donation

Donated Vintage Clothing

You see each time someone donates clothing either in a donation bin, or by having someone pick up the apparel it is sent to a processing plant where the clothing is broken down into different grades. Lets take the Salvation Army for example, because they are one of the larger clothing recyclers around. Now I am aware that there are many other charities like the Good Will and Chalk, however for the sake of explanation we will use the Salvation Army for our example.

2. Donation Center Processing Plant

Vintage Clothing collections

The first place donated clothing ends up is at the clothing recycling bin or center. These clothing recycling bins are picked up and dropped off at the local distribution plant. At the processing plant, everything is placed on a conveyor belts, I mean everything. This includes everything that was donated, clothing, accessories, household goods, sheets, textiles etc. These processing plants usually have graders or pullers if you will, that pull out modern items that will be sold in the local  Salvation Army Thrift Stores, or whatever thrift store the processing plant supplies. Just in case you are wondering, this is not the Vintage Clothing, this clothing is going to thrift stores, so the puller in most cases are looking for modern or contemporary clothes, not old stuff.

These processing centers only use 5% of the clothing that they process, the rest of the clothing is moved on. After the pullers at the processing plant are done pulling out items for the local thrift stores, the rest of the clothing is put into large containers, or bales and sold by the pound to under privileged countries or to Rag Houses.

3. The Rag House

Now many Rag Houses or Recycled Textile Facilities, have their own way of taking in donations, if they do not they can purchased used clothing in bulk by the pound from larger charities that break down the grades even more. When the clothing arrives to the Rag house, it is usually packed into large 1000lb bales with specific grades or style. Different Rag Houses play different roles when it comes to recycling clothing. Some Rag houses just process the cottons and linens to be turned in whipping rags, other process different grades to be sold over seas, and some do all of this but also pull out vintage for local buyers. It is these rag houses that process Vintage Clothing that we will talk about today.

Rag Houses that Process Vintage Clothing

Vintage Clothing grades that are processed at the rag house specifically for Vintage Buyers is the next step in following the trail of Vintage Clothing. These grades are usually broken down into Women’sMen’s and children mixes. Some even go as far as breaking down the clothing from different era’s I.E. Women’s Antique Dresses, Branded Three Button Polo Shirts etc. Others do more of a style breakdown, vintage clothing vs modern clothing.

Some times the mixes come as credential grades. This means that the mix has never been touched or handled by anyone. Often times credential grades are nice to get because you know that you are the first person to process the grade. However this means that you have to process everything, the good the bad and the ugly. You will be lucky to be able to use 5% of a credential grade, but you may find just one piece in that grade that is worth it, or not, it is always a gamble when you are recycling clothing.

4. The Vintage Clothing Wholesaler

how to buy vintage

Vintage Clothing Wholesalers and Suppliers work hand in hand with the rag houses that process vintage clothing, teaching their workers and buyers what is valuable for resale as Vintage. These mixes are then processed and sold to the Vintage Wholesaler so that they can begin processing the mixes for retail buyers.

At Dust Factory we then process the clothing even more breaking down each grade into a specific style and quality. The graders in the Dust Factory processing plants are more advanced when it comes to Vintage Clothing retail, then the graders at the Rag Houses. This is because each grader has had a minimum of three years experience working Vintage Retail before they can start grading for Dust Factory. We have found over the years that this ensures a quality mix for our buyers. What is damaged or stained is then sold to vintage refurbished companies so that the items can be re-constructed into a new garment. What is considered modern or undesirable for vintage buyers is donated to local charities or disaster relief organizations.

The clothing that is used for our mixes is then broken down into size and style runs. This gives our buyers the opportunity to get the same high quality mixes each time. Because we are a bulk wholesaler we do not pull out rare or desirable items for buyers with a limited market, but instead leave these items in our mixes to ensure the quality of our mixes for our bulk buyers. Over the years we have found that it is better not to let buyers hand pick mixes from our grades, this is so that we can keep the quality of our grades up.

If you are looking for a quality bulk supply of vintage clothing for your store, then Dust Factory Vintage Clothing Wholesale could possibly the solution that you are looking for.

What to Look Out For When Buying Vintage Clothing Wholesale

Now there are a few Vintage Clothing Suppliers out there that may operate a little differently. Some Vintage Clothing Warehouse Wholesalers have their own retail stores, I would be very cautious of ordering wholesale form these type of suppliers for good reason. In most cases these suppliers are getting their Vintage Clothing in bulk from the Rag House, then take out the rare and good selling items and put them in their own retail shop or shops, leaving the rest of the un-desirable items to be sold as wholesale. A good quality vintage wholesaler does not do this at all, but instead leaves the hard to find rare items in their mix so that their mixes and grades are desirable by everyone.

Other things to Remember When Purchasing Vintage Wholesale :

  • Look out for Vintage Clothing Wholesalers that let buyers hand pick from their location – this will always mess up the quality of their grades.
  • Look Out for Vintage Clothing Wholesalers that have their own retail shops or online retail stores –  they will keep the good products for their shops and sale the rest to you as wholesale
  • If you have a limited market, purchasing Vintage Clothing Wholesale may not be the best investment for your funds – you will need to find you products another way.
  • Look Out for Rag Houses that wholesale vintage clothing– If they sale used and vintage clothing, often times their vintage grades are mostly modern, and not resealable as vintage.


Frequently Asked Questions: For more information about Ordering Vintage Clothing Wholesale for you store check out our FAQ’s .

Why Vintage Clothing: A series of informativearticles about the wholesale about vintage clothing industry

What Type of Vintage Clothing Buyer are You? Understanding how the industry works and what type of buyer you are is important if you plan to make any money in the used clothing industry. It will also help you learn how to source for your limited or growing market.

Vintage Clothing News Blog:  Find out more about vintage clothing and the culture that it encompasses through music, fashion and art. Become part of the solution and follow the revolution that is taking place today through Fashion and Recycling.

Open A Store: Learn the ropes on how to open and operate a successful vintage clothing store.

Open a Store

You might also like:

4 responses to “Wholesale Vintage Clothing 101”

  1. christina Avatar


    I would love to open my own online vintage store, i am looking for wholesalers like yourselves to get me up and running, i am located in spain, barcelona.
    Could you provide me with a full price list of products.

    I look forward to hearing back from you,

    Christina Rodriguez

  2. mamuna altaf Avatar
    mamuna altaf

    I am thinking of opening up a store that combines modern vintage styles with genuine vintage items / material and gifts. I have been doing my research into the area where I would like to open my small shop. I am worried about the economical climate but I don’t think it will stop me from taking the risk.
    I have looked at the local town centre where I live now and many of the shops in the town centre are closing . As an outsider new to the area I am not surprised as many of the shops are really outdated and have not kept up with trends and people have tended to go to the large multi complex shopping malls. I was expecting more boutiques , clothes shops etc unique gift stores and have found non in the local town centre. How can I open a shop that sells vintage clothes times and can keep unto date with present fashion and be successful.

  3. cindy bonny Avatar
    cindy bonny

    I’m opening a little vintage shop in Ireland, and I’m looking for the best place to purchase in Europe.
    If you can send me on any information on how u operate and how you charge? By weight or buy peice!!any infoformation for this would be great thanx for your time.
    kind regards

  4. lee tae hee Avatar
    lee tae hee

    Hope all is well with you.
    My name Tae-hee Lee from Korea, who is operating the clothing business in domestic wolesale market. Currently, We are seeking for an european supplier dealling with various kinds of vintage items, in order to expand the market share in Korea. Meanwhile, we found your products on your web and interested in them. We’d like to import some of your items from you, if it will be agreed terms & condition between us.
    Thus, It would be much grateful if you could inform us as followings :
    – Merchandise lists with price.
    – Puchasing procedures and your terms & conditions of the transaction.
    Trust to have informed you well and really looking forward to haering from you soon.
    With best regards.
    Tae-hee Lee

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *