WHY I THRIFT
This past weekend I participated in a Blogger Closet Sale, at which I sold of my old clothes that I don't wear anymore. I was really excited to be asked to be part of this event because not only was it a great way to meet some of my followers and make a little bit of extra money, shopping consignment and thrift is something that I'm super passionate about. Most of my favorite items in my closet are pieces that I've found at vintage and thrift stores. And shopping thrift promotes a much more sustainable fashion cycle. So, in honor of all this, I thought I'd share with you guys why I love thrift shopping so much.
For as long as I can remember, thrift shopping has always been a part of my life. And I think my love of thrift shopping stems from my love of discovering hidden treasures. Growing up, my neighborhood would hold a community-wide garage sale every summer; my family almost always participated. Towards the end of the day, one of my parents would take me and my brother throughout the neighborhood, stopping by house after house, to see if we could find anything special we wanted (we usually did). And after the sale was over, we would drop off boxes of whatever we didn’t sell to the various different consignment and thrift stores by our house. And you better believe I tagged along and did more searching for treasure during those drop offs.
When I was younger, my treasure searching was more for fun items like stuffed animals, games, and movies. The older I got the more I searched for books, clothing, purses, and shoes—more practical items. But no matter what I was searching for the thrill of the search was the same—I loved having to look through tables or racks of items in order to find something unique. And that feeling that I got when I would find that something unique, it’s not quite something I can put into words, and has gone completely unmatched by any other shopping I’ve ever done.
Ultimately, I do think it was this thrill of the search that led me to shop at thrift and consignment stores as much as I did when I was younger. I grew up in a middle class family in the suburbs of Ohio, so it’s not like we couldn’t afford going shopping at the mall (we did that pretty often) or that our cost of living was especially high (because it wasn’t). We didn’t NEED to go thrift shopping because we couldn’t afford anything else; we just went sometimes. And I think out of all my family members, I enjoyed thrift shopping the most and went the most often, especially during and after high school.
During high school and college I started to thrift shop more because that was when I started to buy my own clothes. And because I was broke AF, I needed to find a cheaper way to shop for clothes. I found that I could still find good brands, but not break the bank when I was thrift shopping. And eventually, thrifting became my go-to way of shopping.
And now we’re up to today. Today, about 75% of the shopping I do for clothing is at a thrift store. I know some of you are probably going to think that that percentage is extremely high or I’m overexaggerating, but I’m not. Ask my friends how often I go thrift shopping and they will tell you I go all the time. Ask me where things in my closet are from and I can tell you the brand, but I’ll tell you what thrift shop I bought it at first. I’d say at least 50% of the items in my closet are thrifted, and I’d like to make that number higher.
When I first started thrifting pretty regularly, like I mentioned above, I did it because I didn’t want to spend as much money on clothes. The amount of markup that we pay on our clothing is quite ridiculous, but retail companies are especially greedy and really only want to boost profits (but that’s a whole other discussion). And I wasn’t, and still am not, here for it. Don’t get me wrong, I do understand that sometimes you have to pay more to get better quality clothing. I can differentiate between fast fashion brands and those that take the time to make quality product and foster creativity, and I will indulge myself in items from these such brands if I find my interests are aligned with them or if they inspire me.
But now, the main reason I thrift is because of how bad the fashion industry is for our environment. This past year, so many people were shocked when the news came out about Burberry burning millions of dollars worth of excess inventory. That is not a new practice and it’s only one of the many, many ways that the fashion industry pollutes the environment: the dyes we use to color our clothes are polluting waterways and making it undrinkable; millions of tons of discarded clothing ends up in landfills each year, further adding to our waste problem (not to mention all the packaging, if you order from online); the synethic fibers that we use in our clothing are made of microplastics, which are being shedded every time we wash our clothes and are polluting our oceans and global water system (yes, even to the point that we are drinking these microplastics in our own water supply)—I literally could go on and on.
If you’re interested in reading the facts about how un-eco-friendly the fashion industry is and getting real statistics, I’ve written a few pieces about it here, here, here, here, and here. And there are some great pieces that have come out from larger publications who have the resources to do more research, here, here, here, and here.
The main point I’m trying to get across here is that the fashion industry is so pollutive to our environment. And if we keep going the way that we’re going, it’s going to lead to the downfall of our ecosystem. Because of fast fashion, we end up buying more clothing, wear it less, and discard it sooner. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. By buying vintage and thrift, you support the cyclical life of clothing; you keep it from going into an incinerator or into a landfill. But also, by buying less from giant retailers, you signal to them that they don’t need to make as much clothing. Which leads to less waste during the production process and less textile waste leftover. If I’m going to buy something, I’d rather buy it from somewhere that isn’t going to tell a company to produce more, more, more.
I hope that none of that sounded too preachy because all I really wanted to get across in this post is that I have a love for thrifting and urge you to reconsider how much you shop at a traditional retailer. Most people have some idea that the fashion industry is pollutive, but they have no idea HOW MUCH it really is. Climate change is such a hot topic right now, but when it comes to actually curbing carbon emissions or trying to reduce global warming, everyone’s first thought is green energy. Then carbon emissions from transportation. Then the meat industry. We need to look at and drastically change our fashion industry NOW. Companies like Amazon are putting more trucks on the road to get you things faster, and adding more to carbon emissions. Most garment factories are not using green energy. And people around the world are throwing out clothes like it’s their business. We HAVE to change this.
I think one of the reasons that people don’t shop thrift or vintage enough is because there is a certain connotation attached to it. Because it’s used clothing, it’s seen as gross, like you’re a lower person for wearing clothing that’s secondhand. It’s not and you aren’t. It’s completely normal and you can find amazing brands like Ralph Lauren, Free People, Calvin Klein, and Coach (just to name a small few) at lots of thrift stores. And now they even have upscale resale stores like The RealReal, What Goes Around, Tradesy, and A Second Chance that mostly sell luxury consignment items from top designer brands (aka Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton). And because of these luxury resale stores I do think the stigma is starting to diminish.
I consider myself very fortunate because we had 3 thrift stores within a 5 minute drive from my house growing up, and at least another 3 within 15 minutes of my house or by my high school. In college, we had a student-run thrift store actually located on campus. And now I live in NYC, where there are vintage, thrift, and consignment stores galore (if you know where to look for them). So thrifting was always an option for me, and it always will be. I hope if it isn’t one for you already, this post will make you reconsider (and also because you can find really cool pieces there, and who doesn’t want to be cool?).
I’m so sorry that this post is so long. And if you read all the way to the bottom, thank you. This is something that I’m very passionate about, and I hope that you found this informational and that you really do take the time to read the articles I linked in this post.
Keep on the lookout for a future post about my fave thrift stores in NYC—it will be coming your way soon. And if you have any thrift stores you love, let me know what they are in the comments below!