For the past few years, I’ve been combing through eBay on a mission. I’m not looking for first edition books, rare albums, or vintage Swatch watches (well, maybe sometimes…). I’m trolling eBay for stories. Specifically I’m looking for stories that people share about the clothes they’re selling: what they did while they were wearing them, why they’re selling them, who specifically owned them.
From my perspective, eBay has emerged as an unexpected storytelling platform. And so, for the past few years, I’ve been gathering the clothing-related anecdotes I’ve amassed from the auction site all in one place on Sentimental Value.
Since I began collecting these stories (and occasionally bidding on the clothes as well), I’ve seen various themes emerge from my findings. For example, I encounter auctions that include stories of tragedy, rich historical provenances, celebrity tie-ins, and documentation of transformational life experiences.
I’ve also come upon many stories involving teenagers, usually posted from the parent’s perspective but occasionally posted from the former teenager. Puppy love, break ups, fashion missteps, and angst find their way into the text or subtext of these auctions. What follows are my top five Sentimental Value teenage-themed posts, in no particular order, from eBay.
—Emily Spivack collects stories about clothing and memory from eBay posts for Sentimental Value, edits stories about clothing and memory for Worn Stories, is the editor-in-chief of PopTech, and the founder of Shop Well with You.