This Vintage Lover Flew Across the Country to Meet Her Favorite Seller

Rachel Chen, eBay News Team

Emily O’Brien is a 28-year-old vintage clothing collector and seller whose TikTok videos documenting her impromptu trip went viral last year.

When Emily O’Brien received the invitation from bydenise — which sells vintage fashion on eBay — to fly out and see their clothing warehouse, she knew she had to document the trip on TikTok

“In my mind, I was like, ‘This is one of the craziest things I’ve ever done — I kind of want to tell people about it,’” said Emily. “I documented it because it was a cool experience, but I didn’t expect it to go viral.” 

The three-part video series now has over 3 million views and almost half a million likes on TikTok. Although many commenters were concerned for Emily’s safety as she embarked on her solo cross-country adventure from California to rural Pennsylvania, she revealed that she did keep her friends and family informed of her whereabouts, but felt very comfortable making the trip alone. After all, she’d been buying pieces from bydenise for years and had been interested in meeting the owners in-person for a while. In truth, the trip was more like meeting an old acquaintance than a complete Internet stranger. 

“Every time I bought something, I’d ask, ‘Do you have anything else like this?’ because they would keep posting things every few weeks that I really, really liked,” Emily said. “At some point, I bought so much from them, and we’d messaged back and forth so much that they just invited me out to see their entire warehouse of clothing.”

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A lifelong fashion lover, Emily’s fascination with vintage clothing began in high school, when she noticed how the older clothes she found in thrift stores and on eBay were often more unique, better made, more sustainable and more affordable. The sheer amount of textile waste she witnessed in her college dorms at UC San Diego and University of the Pacific — as trends faded and people threw away the clothing they’d purchased only months ago — reinforced her commitment to buying vintage pieces secondhand. 

And Emily, who is 28 years old, has noticed it’s also an outlook many of her peers share. “There’s so much discourse and anxiety about climate change right now, so a lot of millennials and Gen Z are looking for ways to be a part of the solution even though they’re young and can only do so much,” she said. “Buying vintage clothing is almost countercultural now; it’s the complete opposite of fast fashion.” 

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Getting to explore a warehouse full of vintage clothing in-person was a dream come true for Emily. She was able to pick out all of her favorite 19th- and 20th-century antique clothes, buy them on the spot to bring home and show off on her TikTok page. Best of all, she made some new friends. 

“I spent a full day at the warehouse,” said Emily. “It was really cool getting to know the eBay sellers — we ended up chatting for hours, and I’m still in touch with them.” 

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These days, Emily’s own wardrobe is made up almost entirely of vintage clothing. While some enthusiasts specialize in what Emily calls a “hyper niche,” like Victorian-era lace trims or Pendleton wool flannels, Emily prefers pieces from all eras that are feminine but feature a comfortable silhouette, like Gunne Sax dresses from the 1970s (pictured above). She also collects rare and historical clothing that are too delicate to wear, storing them in archival, museum-quality storage boxes for preservation. 

Professionally, Emily runs her own vintage clothing business, Hello Vintage, where she focuses on helping people find high-quality, unique pieces that can be worn out the door — many of which she sources from eBay. 

“Vintage clothing sellers on eBay are so knowledgeable and friendly, and they’re always eager to talk about the clothes that they love,” she said. “If you see something you like, don’t be afraid to reach out — there’s a good chance the seller might have other items from the same estate or collection that would fit you perfectly.” 

And who knows? Your next interaction on eBay might lead to more than clothes that last a lifetime; just ask Emily.