When I was younger, the only thing my parents could afford was pre-owned clothing from our local thrift shop. To my younger self, the thrift shop was just as good as a mall, if not better. I would spend hours there, picking out clothes that I would proudly wear to school the next week. I would pick out trendy denim skirts, adorable graphic tees, and sparkly, pink sneakers. I lived out my princess fantasy by acting like it was my very own walk-in closet. For me, thrift shops were my little heaven.
Buying second-hand items is the new wave. It allows consumers to be more environmentally friendly, help their communities by buying locally, and also able to create new styles for themselves. The fight against fast fashion is as strong as ever. Consumers are deliberately choosing not to support fast fashion brands after learning about their working conditions and their environmental impact. Sustainable and small-owned brands rose to fame and alongside them rose the thrift stores.
Thrift stores allow people to explore different aesthetics without hurting their pockets. Because thrift stores are all pre-owned items, you never know what you’ll find. Some people stumble upon vintage designer items that scream “90’s runway aesthetic,” while others get a good deal on day-to-day basics, like sunglasses and t-shirts. One beauty blogger, Macy Eleni, documents her finds in short 60-second TikTok videos. She gained a large following due to her magnificent fashion finds and contagious positive energy. Her videos show her exploring various thrift shops in the Los Angeles area in search of items that fit her aesthetic. She thrifts things from clothing to accessories to home decor. Her most notable finds are her vintage bags, sunnies, and her iconic, shimmy shake tops (button-downs that evokes a vibe that makes you want to move and shake around!)
Although the current pandemic situation calls for people to stay home as much as possible, the thrifting world is not discouraged. ThredUp, the world’s largest online thrift store, allows people to continue thrifting even during this pandemic. Through ThredUp, people can donate their old items rather than throwing them out and contributing to the 14 million tons of unused fabric produced each year, according to Road Runner WM. Customers can look through ThredUp’s inventory, as they would in a traditional online store. Other thrift shops with physical stores, like Plato’s Closet, are also starting to rely on online platforms to sell their products. There are now thrifting-style apps to help people buy and sell their old clothing items. Apps like Depop and Poshmark have become driving forces in the thrifting world. These apps help connect people from different parts of the world to fashion items they might never even known existed.
The new attention on thrift stores has been met with some criticism. An article written by The EconReview of UC Berkeley dives deeper into this topic. People were worried that the popularity of thrift stores may cause a rise in prices, causing the customers who do their regular shopping at thrift stores, unable to do so. Some concerns specifically surrounded the reseller’s app Depop. In some cases, Depop sellers would go to their local thrift stores and buy items at a low cost only to resell them at a higher price on their Depop account. While these practices have been deemed unethical, they have still contributed to the rise in popularity of thrift stores.
I’m so excited to see thrift stores making a comeback with this new generation of buyers. There are definitely treasures within second-hand clothing stores that cannot be replicated by fast fashion. You’ll stumble upon unique finds that are going to inspire you to try out new fashion ideas. As long as we shop responsibly, there will be enough hidden gems for all of us to find!