By Karoline Gonzalez – Student Journalist
Thrifters are often people in need of clothes for a cheap price—the single parent living paycheck to paycheck, or the homeless man trying to buy a coat with spare-change from strangers. These, perhaps, are the people one expects to see browsing through the aisles of a second-hand store, not the group of teenagers that decided to spend their week’s allowance in on cheap finds and proceed to then resell them for double and triple the price.
Over the years thrifting has been redefined as a way to get old fashionable clothes for cheap by pop culture, creating a new fad for fashion amongst younger generations. The art of shopping second-hand clothes has become quite the mainstream hobby amongst the newer generations—but such popularity could also bring upon its demise.
Thrifting is not only accessible to communities of low income and a great source of rare vintage finds, but also a highly ethical choice of fashion that helps reduce the carbon footprint on the Earth. If you are looking to indulge in the journey of a sustainable lifestyle, thrifting might just be the best option for you, instead of supporting fast fashion corporations such as Forever 21, SHEIN, and Fashion Nova.
Fast fashion refers to the manufacturing of cheap, mainstream clothes through means of rapid, mindless fabrication. Not only is the industry one of the world’s largest polluters due to the amount of toxic waste that is released through the fabrication process, but also a highly exploitative corporation. Overtime, an obscure connection between fast labor and worker exploitation has come to light. From extensive work hours, inadequate and unhealthy working conditions, lack of benefits and below average pay, many of the mainstream fashion brands hide the crude truth of what happens behind closed doors in order to have their clothes make their way into your closet. On the contrary, amongst the many benefits of thrifting, few include reduced waste matter, affordable clothing and good quality, rare, vintage finds as well as developing a unique sense of fashion.
Studies have found the younger generations to be more environmentally conscious than their older counterparts, partly because they have grown up with direct changes derived from global warming. Because of their inherent concern, they are more likely to resort to second-hand resources to furnish their clothing needs.
It is often said that history repeats itself and the same can be applied to fashion trends. There seems to be a resurrect of garments dating from the 00s and 90s all the way back to the 60s thus sparking an obsession with what would be considered “vintage” clothing amongst Millennials and Gen Z. But what exactly falls into the category of vintage and is worth paying a high price for?
The rise of thrifting popularity paved the way for a surplus in online thrifting. Apps like Depop make second-hand clothing accessible for people all around the world, even those who may be deprived of local thrift stores. On the downside, this highly requested online commerce has sparked controversy amongst many of its users who question the true purpose and morality of reselling clothes.
When browsing through Depop, you mustn’t scroll much before finding a listing for a “Y2K rare” labeled crop top going for $40 dollars when an exact copy could be found in the kids’ section of most chain clothing stores. Teens and young adult alike are making a living through the start of a personal business, which is really just thrifting in bulk and reselling at expensive values hoping that many fall for its “one-of-a-kind” ruse.
What the new self-proclaimed business owners fail to understand is that their actions result in a decline of accessibility for those who genuinely rely on second-hand stores to sustain a living. As a result of online sellers buying in bulk, pieces become scarce, causing prices to rise and taking away from those in need. Now, what I’m saying is not that online thrifting is ultimately bad—in fact, it is an opportunity for those who lack access to shop in person. The problem that remains are the overconsumption and overpricing on behalf of self-made sellers, which slowly defeats the true purpose of thrifting.