A Second-Hand Wedding Dress Can Save You Thousands: Here Are The Most Popular Styles

According to the experts, pre-loved fashion is here to stay.

While a wedding dress has traditionally been one of the most expensive clothing items a woman will buy in her lifetime, these days, more and more brides are prioritising their funds elsewhere.

Whether they’re saving for a house or focusing on enjoying a stellar honeymoon, spending big on the dress is essential to some, but not to all.

Enter stage left: the pre-loved wedding dress market.

We can’t all have three custom Chanel dresses like Sofia Richie-Grainge’s trending wedding. (Credit: Image: Instagram)

A glossy term for second-hand dresses, it is a polarizing idea for some brides who have always dreamed of finding their very own white gown. Yet, others see the reality of the situation. It’s a dress you’re only going to wear once, so why does it need to be new?

Speaking to eBay Australia’s Head of Fashion, Brooke Eichhorn, she says that increasing financial pressure and a heart for the environment is driving a bustling pre-loved wedding market.

“As Australians face the pressures of high living costs, pre-loved fashion has become their cost-saving couture. eBay’s research showed that affordability is a major driver for pre-loved fashion, and with Aussies increasingly feeling the pinch, we believe pre-loved fashion is here to stay,” she tells marie claire.

“It’s not just financial reasons though. When you shop pre-loved fashion, you can find unique items that are one-of-a-kind treasure, or items that are sold out in retail stores,” she adds.

“Plus, it’s a sustainable choice that aligns with the growing awareness of environmental concerns. By choosing pre-loved fashion, you’re not only reducing waste but also contributing to a more circular and eco-conscious fashion industry.”

So — there are a lot of things driving the pre-loved market. But what do you need to know about buying and selling in it? And what are the items that are most popular, and therefore most likely to guarantee a return?

Let’s get into the nitty gritty behind this modern take on the bridal industry.

What Are The Most Popular Designers For Pre-Loved Wedding And Bridesmaid Dresses?

(Credit: Image: Getty)

The best part about buying pre-loved is that because it’s more affordable, you can often level up in the labels you choose. According to eBay data, the three most popular pre-loved labels are as follows:

  • Rachel Gilbert
  • Rebecca Vallance
  • Vera Wang

Wedding parties are also turning to pre-loved gowns for their big-day ensembles. The most popular labels for bridesmaid dresses are:

  • Jadore
  • Jenny Packham
  • Monique Lhuillier

Which Gowns Guarantee The Most Return On Investment?

If you’re buying pre-loved or new and intending to resell, we can’t help but wonder which labels are going to give you the most return.

While we don’t have exact data on it, experts say that buying and selling in labels with bigger demand will increase the resale chances.

“The value of an item is often influenced by its uniqueness and demand, making it a dynamic market with opportunities across various brands and styles,” Eichhorn says. “While we don’t have specific data on which designers consistently get the highest return, renowned names like Rachel Gilbert, Rebecca Vallance, and Vera Wang are popular choices for buyers.

“Equally, some of the most-sold Australian luxury brands on eBay Australia include Alemais, Aje, Mister Zimi, Scanlan Theodore, and Zimmermann so if you have one of these branded dresses sat gathering dust in your wardrobe, you might want to head onto eBay to resell it and make a bit of extra cash.”

When it comes to the resale market, it’s apparent that labels matter.

“There’s a clear allure to wearing famed designer brands pre-loved. It allows individuals  to have that special, branded dress they’ve always dreamed of at a more affordable price point. It’s about getting that ‘wow’ factor without compromising on quality or style,” says Eichhorn.

(Credit: Image: Unsplash)

Are There Also Options For The Groomsmen?

Yes! Apparently Ede Ravenscroft, Hugo Boss and Union are the most-searched for options in men’s suiting.

Is There Still A Stigma Against Second Hand Dresses?

While the second-hand market may have once been overlooked by the weathier fashion sense, the ‘thrifting’ wave has firmly placed pre-loved items back into the cultural zeitgeist.

“It’s not just about savings; it’s a style revolution. Our research revealed one in three Aussies now embrace pre-loved pieces, proving that ‘second-hand’ no longer means ‘second-best.’ It’s a movement where sustainability meets individuality, and conscious consumers redefine chic,” says Eichhorn.

What Do I Do About Sizing When It Comes To Pre-Loved Dresses?

We can’t talk about the second-hand fashion market without mentioning the obvious issues it has with sizing and inclusivity. There’s no sizing range on a singular find, so often it can be hard to find the style you want in the size you need. It’s a common complaint from thrifters in the marie claire office.

The good news is that scale helps, and shopping second-hand online allows you to search by size.

“Many sellers provide detailed sizing information in their listings. This ensures that buyers can make informed choices based on their measurements,” explains Eichhorn.

While you can’t always try things on, most brides getting married would have their dress altered to fit them in any case.

“Make sure to check the information in the listing or ask the seller about how it fits or whether they made alterations,” she advises.

We spoke to eBay Australia’s Head of Fashion, Brooke Eichhorn. (Credit: Image: eBay)

Is There A Problem With Authenticity In the Second Hand Market?

There’s no denying that superfakes and dupes are rife these days, so it’s important to do your research when it comes to label-shopping online.

“If in doubt, message the seller and ask them to provide proof of authenticity, like receipts or certificates of authenticity,” guides Eichhorn. “If, for any reason, the item you receive doesn’t match the description in the listing, eBay’s Money Back Guarantee has you covered. You can shop with confidence knowing that if the item isn’t as described, you’ll get your money back without any hassle. It’s part of our commitment to ensuring a trustworthy and secure shopping experience for our customers.”

Where To Find Pre-Loved Wedding Dresses In Australia?

  • eBay
  • Still White
  • Love Me Twice
  • The RealReal
  • Little Bird Bridal
  • Vestiaire Collective
  • Etsy

What Is It Really Like To Wear A Pre-Loved Wedding Dress On Your Big Day?

eBay Australia’s Head of Fashion, Brooke Eichhorn
Sasha Gersohn on her wedding day. (Credit: Image: Alicia Heatherington)

While most future brides could agree that wearing pre-loved is a smart choice, there may be sentimental hold ups about ‘having your own dress’.

That’s exactly how recent bride Sasha Gersohn felt, until she started trying to plan her nuptials.

“Growing up I always pictured myself on my wedding day in the white dress at a beautiful venue, but it was only once I started the process that I realised the astronomical cost of a wedding,” she explains.

“A few of my friends had mentioned that buying a pre-loved wedding dress was an option. At first I thought I needed a new special dress for my special day, but then I thought it was worth having a look at a few different sites to see what pre-loved options are available and how much it would save me compared to buying a new dress.”

Gersohn eventually bought a pre-loved option, getting the dress for half the price of it’s retail value.

  • Recommended retail price (RRP): $2,000
  • Pre-loved price: $1,000

Gersohn has also decided to sell her dress onto another bride-to-be as she says “fashion trends are continuously changing and I can’t imagine my daughter will ever want to wear something that I wore.” This will mean that all up she will have paid very little for the original $2,000 gown, putting the money towards wedding expenses (venue, photography) but “most importantly, our honeymoon!”

“I know some people can feel uncomfortable about buying something that someone else has already worn, but given wedding dresses are usually only properly worn once on the big day and most sellers will offer dry cleaning, it’s a no-brainer really,” she says.

“I think every bride-to-be should at least give pre-loved wedding dresses a chance when looking. I think it’s worth trying a few options to see what you do and don’t like and how much you could potentially save, as most sites will offer free returns.”

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