I remember the first time I saw the “fashion side” of TikTok. It was a young woman showing her viewers how to style various items she had recently purchased at a thrift store, mainly early 2000’s style clothing. In the comments, users raved about her tennis skirts and oversized sweater vests, demanding to know where she got them. The woman posted links to Depop stores and named a few local thrift shops, and upon further investigation, I learned she had many videos just like this. From this point on, I was hooked, thrifting videos filled my page. I began to get a lot of videos like this in my feed, mainly young women showing thrifted outfits or new styles, which also typically were upcycled clothing items.
The surge of the aforementioned type of videos presented audiences with a resurgence of old styles, but they all had one thing in common for the most part- and that was the use of recycled/thrifted items, or items from small business owners through sites like Depop. The wave of popularity was swift, and soon more and more creators were showing their thrifted fits to their audiences, large or small. The result of this was teenagers and young adults flocking to thrift stores and online sellers alike, making off with items that aligned with the aesthetic of their choosing. At a glance, this may seem like a great thing- young people going out of their way to purchase goods from sustainable sources rather than funding fast fashion. However, there are pros and cons to this new trend, and they should be considered by consumers.
Thrifting and buying from small businesses are well-known ways to take a step towards sustainable living. The environmental positives of shopping upcycled are enormous, from lowering emissions from factories by creating less demand to be supplied, to less pollution from runoff into water sources- the impact is clear. This is a sustainable lifestyle, as it is fairly easy to obtain secondhand clothing.
A Shortage of Affordable Items
Everyone loves a good deal; whether it be on clothing, furniture, food, or anything else a shopper wants, nobody is going to turn down a discount. Thrift stores largely provide affordable clothing, being as it is not new. For a long time, thrifting was more popular amongst those who were unable to afford higher priced items. In the past year, thrifting has become more of a trend than a vital source of clothing for people of lower incomes. With the rise in demand for clothing from thrift stores, the prices have gone up along with it. This has in turn forced those that rely on thrift stores to be boxed out, leaving them with fewer options.
On top of that, there is the problematic nature of reselling thrifted items. While there is nothing inherently wrong with reselling items on sites like Depop or Etsy, the problem arises when people purchase these goods at an extremely low price, and then resell them at double or triple the original price. This once again prevents those who genuinely rely on cheap clothing to accessing those products.
Supporting Online Sellers
While reselling items with a mark up that makes them unaffordable to the general public is problematic, there are creators that make it worth your while. A lot of people have taken to purchasing cheap clothing, and then altering the item to match their signature brand or style, and then selling it. The work the artists put into the clothing is worth the extra cash, and you are supporting a small business by making those purchases. With sites such as Etsy, Depop, and The Real Real, there are options for anything from streetwear to luxury clothing and accessories.
With concerns about ethical buying and sustainable consumerism at an all time high, it is important to know what options you have as a buyer, and the impact of those options. Old styles from previous decades are making an enormous comeback, so thrifting has been a great way for younger people to get ahold of some older fashion items instead of buying new. It is important to weigh your choices when you make the decision to shop sustainably, and knowing the pros and cons can help you make an informed decision before your purchase any items for your wardrobe.
Thrifting is a fun way to sustainably amp up your wardrobe, but it’s important to thrift and buy responsibly. During these uncertain times, thrifting and shopping in general have become harder to do, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get back out there sometime soon!