Money hack: how to sell shalwar kameez on eBay

Let me preface this by saying this post is entirely about detailed intricacies of Pakistani clothing, feel free to skip! 

We all have them in our closets. Forgotten, suppressed, stuffed in the dark corners, sometimes in a suitcase under the bed, or worse, a bag in a forgotten closet, rotting, useless, but haunting the back of your mind. Just me? It can’t be. 

I’m talking about old Pakistani shalwar kameez, of course. 

The wonderful, incredible thing about Goodwill and similar thrift stores is the ability to offload your on clearance sequined blazer from express that you convinced your mom you would wear all the time but in reality wore only once. You can drop off the farmhouse table you convinced your husband needed only to find out that surprise! We’re moving! And we need to clear out this apartment in three days. Goodwill takes your items, cleans, sorts, tags, and puts them on the floor for sale. 

But shalwar kameez are a little more complicated. 

Generally, I’m a fan of reselling pretty much anything and everything online on either eBay or Craigslist but it gets a little tricky with older Pakistani clothes. I’ve successfully sold a lot of my older clothes and I’ve learned a few things that I’d like to share. 

Start with the easy sells

There’s a pretty decent market for used Pakistani clothing, and based on the addresses I’ve sent outfits to, these are primarily women living in much smaller cities in the US where access to clothes is limited, or they don’t wear them often enough to justify the cost of buying new. I will say, it’s easiest to sell the following: 

  • 3 pc suits. The people who purchase these outfits typically do not have a large wardrobe or access to other pieces to mix and match with. 
  • Semi Formal or Embroidered Lawn. I’ve found it difficult to sell super fancy outfits without selling for a LOT less than I bought it for.
  • Brand name outfits. It is what it is, but Khaadi, Sapphire, and Agha Noor were the quickest to sell, with most other brands a close second.
  • Ready to wear pret. This ties in with the point above, but since the sizing on pret wear for brands is more consistent, I’ve learned outfits I’ve bought stitched sell better
  • Trendy items. It is almost impossible to sell a kamdaani anarkli but an organza shirt with pearls will be sold within days. 

Put the work into the listing

There’s simply no way around this. If you’re looking to get rid of clothes, you’ll have to really go through and start with outfits that are recent, branded, or more popular styles. I recommend taking stock and finding what fits with the guidelines above for your first outfit. Here’s what people are looking for in a listing:

  • Accurate descriptions. It is unfortunately really easy to get ripped off online, since many use ‘khaadi’ and ‘agha noor’ as keywords in their listing. Add the condition, brand, who it was stitched by (darzi vs ready to wear) and why you’re selling (because if it’s perfectly good, people are generally suspicious that something is wrong) 
  • Detailed size information. I measure everything you would have to give to a darzi, and this reduces the number of questions you will get. 
  • LOTS of clear, daylight photos of every angle, including the label (if branded). Close up photos to show stitching and any embroidered details are helpful, and I recommend ironing or steaming and hanging on a hanger for photos.
  • Price when purchased new. I think this helps in justifying your price, a lot of folks don’t realize how expensive these outfits are. 
  • If there’s room inside for alteration, plus a photo of how much

Set your price to be competitive 

The best way to figure out pricing is to search for similar items on eBay and figure out the range. From there, I’ll take a look at how much I spent originally on the outfit, and try to recover at least half. I set the number a little more than the lowest I’d be willing to sell for, typically 15% more. 

That’s it! Answer the questions that come in and ship as fast as possible for a good seller rating, which makes it easier to sell going forward. 

My experience with selling clothes changed the way I buy them

Now that I know I can potentially recover some of my money, I’m careful and picky about what I buy. I now only buy branded Pakistani pret, and I buy far fewer clothes than I did before. 

I fully consider these clothes investments, and have shed the guilt I used to have around spending $100-250 at a time on clothes. I am able to really browse around on instagram and figure out exactly what I want. For so long I went all over Karachi looking for a Farah Talib Aziz style semi formal outfit until it hit me: what if I just support the art and buy an original? Luxury brands retain their value and once I’ve worn the outfit a few times, I can resell it. 

Luxury pret wear is almost always worth the money: the material and stitching is far superior, and the style is unique. There are no corners cut, the back of the outfit is also embroidered/designed, and the cut of the outfit fits better (I’m looking at you, Agha Noor, with your boxy one size fits all styles). Plus, I now take screenshots of the outfit on the brand’s website to use in my listings in addition to my own photos.

Here’s how much I’ve bought and sold outfits for to give you an idea of how much you can make: 

  • 3 piece stitched semi formal outfit from a random shop on Tariq Rd. Bought for: $68. Sold for: $45
  • 3 piece pret Junaid Jamshed. Bought for: $47. Sold for: $32
  • 2 piece prêt Khaadi embroidered lawn shirt with dupatta. Bought for: $48. Sold for: $45
  • 3 piece Farida Hasan semi formal pret. Bought for: $230. Sold for: $180. 

What’s your experience been? Do you buy used or sell your own clothing?

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