February 21, 2010

thredUp – Trade Out Your Clothes for Something Better

What if the number of people you could invite to a clothing swap party wasn’t limited by the size of your living room or event space? You’d probably invite a lot more people and swap a lot more clothes, right? That’s the idea behind thredUp, an online clothing exchange that lets users trade clothes with people from all over the country. Instead of wasting time hauling your used clothing to a vintage shop or selling it on eBay, offer it up for free on thredUp. When a member requests an item that you’ve got, you’ll ship it to her through the mail. In return, you’ll get an item in your size mailed directly to your doorstep.

Before you can get started playing around with thredUp, you need to buy some envelopes. For a $5 fee you can get a “quick-thred” pack, which includes an envelope that should be filled with an item of your choosing and mailed to the thredUp warehouse. Based on what it is in the envelope, ThredUp will do its best to look for a similar style it thinks you’ll like and mail it to you. You can also go to the Closet page and describe an article of clothing you’re willing to send out, and select preferences as to the type of items you’d like to receive in return. Each time thredUp finds a “match,” you will be given the address of a fellow user who has been selected to receive something from your online closet. At the same time, you will become eligible to receive another clothing item from the same “Brand Tier” as the item you sent out.

Users don’t need to take photos of the clothes they are agreeing to swap, and they aren’t given images of the items they are set to receive, either. Instead, they are submitting themselves to the accuracy of thredUp’s own matching system, which does its best to match users to the clothes they predict they’ll like. While it’s far from perfect, thredUp is a fun system that lets you get and receive slightly worn items just for the cost of a shipping envelope. You can’t get much cheaper or better than that.

Practical Uses:

  • Get rid of the clothes you rarely wear
  • Get new clothes in the mail without spending a ton of money
  • Play around with fashion and try wearing a style you might not otherwise buy
  • Clean out your closet by shipping items to others

Insider Tips:

  • Quickly add items to your closet by selecting the brand, color, size, and use
  • Matched items must be shipping by users within 48 hours of the email notice
  • Set your account to vacation mode if you will not be using the site for a while
  • Update your thredUp preferences to change the brands, uses, and sizes of clothing that you are hoping to get

What we liked:

  • Unique concept lets people get new clothes without wasting money
  • Matching process ensures users always get something in exchange for their shipped item
  • Ability to narrow down choices to specific brands and sizes
  • Prepaid envelopes are reasonably priced

What we didn’t like:

  • The site would be more fun if you could see the items you were about to receive in the mail
  • Currently, t-shirts and blouses are the only clothing items that can be swapped through the site


Company Info:

  • Launched: September 2009
  • Privately Held
  • Headquarters: Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Founded by: James Reinhart, Oliver Lubin, and Chris Homer
  • Web site:


  • Envelopes are $5 each


  1. Jim

    Don’t forget they have a service for parents coming out soon – thredUP kids. I see that being the most useful.

  2. Thanks for the great post! If you’d like to check out thredUP kids you can visit Invite-only launch is coming soon!

  3. janeen

    i just wanted to note that there is a ThredUp Facebook page that you can go on and talk to other people that use thred up and have custom boxes made. you can also post pictures of things in the box so you dont always have to be surprised/disappointed. its a great site and i highly recommend

Submit a Comment